DEBLIN, Poland - Poland wrapped up eastern Europe's largest arms deal ever on Friday to buy Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter jets for $3.5 billion and secure billions of dollars in reciprocal investments.
Polish and U.S. officials and Lockheed representatives signed three agreements -- a final purchase agreement for 48 planes, a preferential U.S. government loan and a package of at least $6.3 billion of U.S. investments in Poland for the next 10 years, known as offset investment.
The deal, under discussion since an initial agreement late in 2002, is a key part of NATO-member Poland's drive to beef up its armed forces, and the government is banking on investment to boost the high-tech sector and cut high unemployment.
"We are opening a new phase in Polish-American relations... not only in the political and military sense but also economic," Prime Minister Leszek Miller said at the signing ceremony in the south-eastern town of Deblin, whose plane factory stands to receive part of the reciprocal investment.
Investments confirmed on Friday include projects by U.S. firms such as General Motors, which plans to upgrade and boost exports at its Polish plant, and Motorola, which is set to build an emergency communications network in Poland.