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Wright Flyer Paper : On the Wings of the White Eagle; Poland’s Air Force Reform and Modernization, 1989–2001, Vol. 18

By Lt Col Pamela J. Wolosz, USAF

In 1989 years of Soviet control over political, economic, and military systems had left Poland unprepared to significantly contribute to NATO. However, Poland accepted the challenge of building a capable air arm for NATO as it began to reform its political system, modernize its air force, and strengthen its economic system to support air force modernization. This research paper analyzes Poland’s progress in implementing these reforms and is grounded in three themes: (1) the political progress of reforming the civil-military structure, (2) the economic progress of reforming Poland’s defense budget and defense industry to support air force modernization and, (3) the military’s progress in modernizing its air force weapons. This study does not provide specific solutions but instead gives a general understanding of the long road Poland has embarked upon to transform itself from a Soviet satellite into a valued, all-around NATO contributor.


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