Mid-air with an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle for a Polish F-16.
According to the reports published by several Polish media outlets, on Sept. 15 a Polish Air Force F-16 fighter stationed at Krzesiny Airbase, near Poznan, collided with a small drone. The mid-air impact, whose evidence was discovered by ground crews during the post-flight checks, exposed damages to the airframe protective coating and to the fuel tank.
The official version of the incident, given by major Dariusz Rojewski of the Krzesiny AB, is that the jet collided with an unknown aerial vehicle; damage assessment highlighted that the overlay of the Viper‘s fuselage and fuel tank (probably the CFT) were damaged. The Air Force refused to provide any further information. With free, unregulated access to the UAV systems, incidents like this can happen. The Polish legislation assumes that the drone operator is always responsible for the flights conducted by the UAV. Uncontrolled, unauthorized flights in no-fly zones around airfields are punished. According to the Polish Aviation Law Act and the Polish Civil Aviation Authority, a person charged with causing an aviation incident may be sanctioned with 12 years of imprisonment, while sole flight inside the controlled airspace of an airfield, may face 5 years of imprisonment. Polish media outlet Głos Wielkopolski notes that the only areas where drone are allowed to fly around Poznan include the Morasko, Suchy Las, Lubon and Komorniki regions, all of those are located far away from the Ławica (EPPO) and Krzesiny (EPKS) airfields. As a consequence, any drone-related activity in Poznan is banned, even in the areas that are relatively safe, as Mikołaj Karpinski of the Polish Air Navigation Services Agency (PANSA) told in an interview for Głos Wielkopolski. Any legal drone operation would require an authorization from PANSA , and this authorization must be obtained at least five days ahead of the planned flight.
Łask Air Base open day saw the first display of the Polish F-16 “Tiger” Demo Team.
On Sep. 26. 2015 we have attended the Łask Air Base open day.
Besides the Polish Air Force’s inventory (e.g. the F-16, MiG-29 or the C-130 airlifter) the static display also featured the historic aircraft restored by the Grupa Archeo – a group of enthusiasts gathered around the Łask base, restoring and maintaining historical aircraft, including the I-22 Iryda indigenous trainer, MiG-21 MiG-15 or the MiG-23 interceptor.
The dynamic part of the show was quite modest, even though it was the uniqueness of some displays to make the event extremely interesting.
The show began with the Artur Kielak’s display, flying the XA-41 aircraft. Being one of the best Polish aerobatic pilots, Kielak really pushed his propeller-driven airplane to the limit. However, it was not his display the most electrifying part of the show.
Next, a show of force was displayed by the F-16 jets stationed at the Łask base: a couple of jets performed took with full afterburner and then performed a “carousel” meaning that there was a series of touch-and-gos, each of which was finished or started – depending on the point of view – with an aggressive, high-g turn and climb. This was a very spectacular start for the military part of the show. It’s a pity that such element was not showcased e.g. during the Radom Air Show this year, because it really portrayed the power of the F-16 jets used by the Polish Air Force.
Among the displayed aircraft, the Polish Su-22 role demo team also performed a spectacular show, showcasing the abilities of the aging, but still capable aircraft.
The display program of the Fitter team features some interesting passes, with varied wing geometry, with one airplane flying in the landing configuration, while the other passes, within the same formation, with its wings fully swept back. The maneuver is not that easy to perform, since the speed overlap between the settings is quite small.
The third dynamic display, which took part during the show, was performed by the new Polish MiG-29 demo pilot – cpt. Bartek “Brawo” Kida. Adrian Rojek, famous for his vertical take-off during this year’s RIAT, did not fly on that day. The MiG display was spectacular, with a lot of flares launched throughout and a lot of afterburner used.
Unfortunately, Bartek Kida did not perform the famous tailslide, which is one of the most characteristic capabilities within the MiG-29 Fulcrum’s flight envelope. This was probably because of the low cloud altitude on Saturday, preventing the jet from performing maneuvers high enough to make the tailslide safe.
The Łask air show was also attended by the US Air Force C-17 Globemaster, belonging to the 105th Air Lift Wing of the New York National Guard. The American airlifter performed a few majestic passes over the base, and it also showcased its rough field capabilities, by performing a short landing with the reversed thrust.
However, the most important and the most awaited highlight of the Łask Air Base open day was the long-awaited display of Polish F-16 demo team. The jet also flew during the Krzesiny Air Base celebrations two weeks earlier, however, that event was not open to the general public.
The Polish F-16 demo programme is very much similar to the Greek “ZEUS” display – however, this is not a surprise, since Robert “Bluto” Gałązka, the Polish pilot flying the F-16 demo, was trained by Georgos Androlukais and Emmanuel Andriakanis, who are the members of the Greek “ZEUS” demo team.
According to lotniczapolska.pl, the demo team prepared three variants of the display – high, low and flat. The flat display is the one that is most difficult for the pilot, since during the 10-15 minutes of display his body has to cope with the g-load ranging from -3 to +9.5.
The minimum speed during the display is 115 knots, while the top speed attained by the Polish fighter during the performance reaches Mach 0.95. The altitude range for the display is contained between 60 and 5,000 meters. The display is said to feature a lot of flares, however, due to malfunction of the countermeasure system, no flares were released in Łask on Sept. 26.
Cpt. Robert “Bluto” Gałązka has accumulated 1800 flight-hours so far, with 1300 hours flying the F-16. Since 2009, he was involved in 14 international exercises, including the Red Flag, NATO Tiger Meet (five times) and Frisian Flag (attended twice), as well as the NATO Response Force operations and the Tactical Leadership Programme.
The author of the images, Wojciech Mazurkiewicz, working as a member of the Radom Airshow’s press team, told us that shooting the aircraft at night was extremely satisfying and quite exceptional: this is the first time in history such a photo shoot has been allowed.
After long negotiations with Lt. Col. Artur Goławski, the spokesperson for the event, Mazurkiewicz, along with the photographers of the press team, got the clearance to take the unique night photos. As it happens sometimes – not everything went smooth. In fact, due to a lack of communication within the chain of command, the guards securing the aircraft did not receive any information related to the photographers presence.
However, after 15 minutes, the issue was solved and the photographers were allowed to take the shots of the aircraft taking part in the Radom Air Show dynamic displays. Interestingly, only 3 photographers had a chance to take the night shots of the “sleeping” aircraft meaning that the images in this post are quite unique.
General public rarely gets up close and personal with the aircraft taking part in the flying display as these airframes are usually parked away from the audience area for safety reasons.
Along with an impressive line-up, what made Radom Airshow 2015 interesting was the fact that it provided an overview of some of the weapons systems involved, in one way or another one, in several Polish Armed Forces procurement programs.
Among the aircraft that took part in the largest airshow organized in Poland this year there was the T129 ATAK helicopter, offered by TAI within the scope of the Polish “Kruk” attack helicopter tender, that performed an interesting dynamic display.
Secondly, the ATK company presented its AGM-88E AARGM (Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile) which is offered as a complementary element of ordnance for the Polish F-16 fleet.
The main portion of the show belonged to the aerobatic teams. Radom flightline included the Polish Orlik and Iskry teams, as well as the famous Frecce Tricolori, along with Patrulla Águila and Patrulla Aspa from Spain, Swiss Patrouille de Suisse team, Baby Blue team from Denmark or the Baltic Bees team from Latvia.
Fighter jets also performed spectacular displays.
Both the Italian Eurofighter Typhoon, the Polish and Slovak MiG-29 and Belgian or Greek F-16 fighters, and the French Rafale took part in the air display with stunning maneuvers.
However, one of the most spectacular displays was performed by the Romanian MiG-21 LanceR, as this fighter is at least two decades older than the fourth generation jets. The MiG-21 display exhibited the raw power of the Cold War jet, with a lot of afterburner coming into play.
Two displays that are worth mentioning here were performed by the role demo teams – the Polish Su-22 aerobatic team which presented the capabilities of the old jet – including spectacular passes with varied geometry of the wings (which is quite difficult, considering the small speed overlap in case of the extreme wing positions). Second display was performed by a CAS-role demo team with the Polish F-16 jets performing a CAS (Close Air Support) demonstration, together with the Fitters.
Unfortunately, the F-16 solo display did not take place during the Radom show, even though the demo team is involved in intensive training activities over the Krzesiny airbase. The display is rumored to have a premiere planned for the Krzesiny Air Base annual air show, scheduled on Sep. 5.
The static display also featured numerous interesting airframes, as the above-mentioned MiG-21, two examples of C-27J Spartan transports, Israeli C-130 Hercules (open to the public) and the German P3 Orion.
The Polish Air Force showcased all of its inventory as well, including the Mi-8 and Mi-14PŁ helicopters and F-16, Su-22 and MiG-29 fighters. Even Kaman Seasprite helicopter of the Polish Navy was presented in a static display, unfortunately without the special color scheme painted on the fuselage.
Overall the air show in Radom was very interesting. The only thing lacking were the jets from beyond the Eastern border of Poland, such as the Ukrainian or Belarusian Su-27 Flankers or Su-24 Fencers.
However, in the current geopolitical situation, it is hard to expect that the Ukrainians would attend any air show east of Hungary. The Belarus’s Flanker fleet is in a really bad shape, on the other hand – according to some of the last year’s reports.
Along with the F-22s, four F-16s from the 480th Fighter Squadron, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, taking part in bilateral training with the Polish Air Force (during which they will be joined by additional F-16s from the 176th Fighter Squadron, Wisconsin Air National Guard, in early September) deployed to Lask.