The U.S. jets are going to be involved in joint training with the Polish F-16 fighters and information published by Głos Wielkopolski suggests that the Raptors are going to be stationed at the Polish 32 AB in Łask (a news confirmed by the base spokesman according to Scramble).
The arrival of the four F-22s marks the beginning of the inaugural Rapid Raptor package deployment in Europe: the type has often taken part in rotational deployments in the Asia-Pacific region since 2009, to show the presence of Washington’s 5th generation stealth jet around the disputed islands in the South China Sea, while some are also taking parting in the air war against ISIS.
Some analysts speculate the Raptors were not deployed in Europe earlier because of the risk of close encounters with Russian ELINT jets above the Baltics and the resulting disclosure of some sensitive information pertaining the Raptor, a risk the stealth jet face all around the world, actually.
Poland’s Ministry of Defense, in the light of the wide scope of UAV procurement programmes, decided to create a dedicated airbase for the unmanned systems. A base currently used by the Polish Air Force Su-22 jets.
The airbase, which is going to be referred to as the 12th Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Base, will begin its operations, starting from January 2016.
The Polish Army has six UAV procurement programs, the aim of which is to bridge the capability gap detected during the deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq, conducted throughout the first decade of the 21st Century.
So far, the Polish UAV arsenal has been quite modest, since it only features some mini-class tactical systems utilized by the Nil Special forces units. During the Afghan deployment, Polish Army also rented the ScanEagle systems from the Americans.
Polish UAV programs aim at procurement of the following systems:
• Zefir – MALE UCAV, with high level of autonomy – 12 vehicles are going to be acquired within the scope of this program; • Gryf – Tactical MALE recce UAV – 12 examples to be acquired; • Orlik – tactical short range UAV – 12 packages with 3 to 5 platforms in each are going to be procured; • Wizjer – mini-UAV, similar to the WB Electronics FlyEye – 15 packages with 4-5 UAVs in each package are going to be purchased; • Ważka – VTOL mini UAV program – need of acquiring 15 UAVs of this type has been expressed; • Micro-UAV – the smallest VTOL UAV which is going to be used by the special forces’ assault teams in order to increase their situational awareness.
Mirosławiec base is going to be equipped with the above-mentioned Gryf, Orlik and Zefir UAVs.
According to the reports published by a variety of the Polish defense media outlets, the facility will be reconstructed to receive new infrastructure needed to store the UAV systems and the armament.
When it comes to the UCAV (Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle) systems, British, Israeli and US offers have been submitted. 60 UCAVs are going to be stationed at the facility – 48 tactical ones and 12 heavy Zefir UCAVs.
According to the information released by tvn24 at the end of June, the tender is going to be won by the contractor who is going to provide Poland with a relevant transfer of technology.
Territory of Poland is scattered, besides the highway strips, with old, abandoned Warsaw Pact military airfields which have not been in use since the Cold War.
Since Jul. 20, according to the Air Force Times, the Warthogs from the 354th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron temporarily based at Lask to strengthen the U.S. presence in eastern Europe amid growing tensions with Russia, have practiced landings and operations at Nowe Miasto, where the runway, unused for years, is far from pristine conditions: not a problem for the A-10 which is practically immune to FOD (Foreign Object Damage) thanks to its engines mounted far from the surface of the runway.
The operations conducted by the American pilots included night operations.
In his interview to Air Forces Times, Lt. Col Ryan Hayde, commander of the 354th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, stated that the operations at the airfield were conducted with the help of the US Special Forces CCT’s (Combat Controllers), who acted as the air traffic control during the exercise, since the airfield has no ATC provided on regular basis.
Interestingly, the Polish Ministry of Defense kept the whole event in secrecy until the news was spread, post-factum by American sources. Even after the event, Lt. Col. Artur Goławski, spokesperson for the Polish General Command of the Armed Forced, denied the operation.
All of the Polish Su-22’s are stationed in Świdwin, at the 21st Air Base.
The modernization plan assumes that the jets are going to be fitted with new avionics, including the imperial gauges in the cockpit, along with a new radio and flight recorder.
Still, the change which is most visible is the new camouflaged color scheme: the Polish fighter-bombers received a new, gray-toned paint scheme.
All of the modernization works are being carried out by the Bydgoszcz Military Aviation Works, the same facility which performs the maintenance of the Polish F-16. According to the statement made by Waldemar Topol, Director of Operations at the WZL plant, works on a single jet will take nine months on average.
The works involve disassembly and general repairs of the critical components that have a significant impact on flight safety. Structural properties of the airframes are also being closely examined.
Secondly, the cockpit flight instrumentation is going to be rescaled into the imperial system. Even though the Polish crews are used to quickly perform the units conversion, the change of the instruments is going to improve standardization (as well as pilots comfort), especially in case of the operations conducted together with the NATO allies.
The color change will give the Polish Fitters a livery similar to that of the Polish F-16s.
A flight test program is going to be executed, before the aircraft return to Świdwin.
What is more, during the Bydgoszcz Air Fair event, a modernized MiG-29 with a new paint scheme, resembling the one utilized by the Polish F-16 was also presented. Images emerged on some of the Polish aviation-related forums.
Prolonging the lifetime of the 18 airframes will make it possible to continue the training of the pilots who would be assigned to other squadrons, and the Fitters would still be supporting the Polish Special Forces or the Navy, as Polska Zbrojna reports.
When it comes to the Su-22 airframes that are not going to be refurbished, the last one is to be withdrawn in 2018. The pilots flying the Fitters claim that despite their age, the airframes are still very reliable.
Some USAF A-10 “Warthogs” are stationed in Poland.
354th EFS (Expeditionary Fighter Squadron) has deployed again to Poland.
This time the A-10s maintain their presence at the Polish 32nd Air Base located in Łask, near Łódź, in the central part of the country. The aim of their presence, according to the statements made by the base press officer that emerged in a variety of media, is to participate in a joint exercise with the Polish Air Force, within the scope of the Air Force Theater Security Package.
The overall goal of the NATO initiative, undertaken in the light of the Ukrainian crisis, is to reassure the allies of the NATO eastern flank, and to maintain collective defense capabilities.
Earlier on, the Thunderbolts were stationed (temporarily) at the Polish Powidz Airbase. Notably, this time the Warthog detachment is larger (includes 12 examples), and the deployment itself is to be longer, as it is going to last until the end of July, according to the rumors.
It is worth noting that this time the deployment did not get that much media attention, in comparison with the previous presence of the A-10 in Poland. The spotters, who published the photos of the Warthogs online were the first signs of their presence in the region.
The A-10 that are currently stationed in Poland come from the 355th Fighter Wing which is based at the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, in Arizona. They have been operating in Mid-Eastern Europe for some time now, visiting Poland, Bulgaria or Romania, participating in a variety of exercises (e.g. the Dragoon Ride operation).