Author Archives: Jacek Siminski

Poland’s Cold War era Sukhoi Su-22 Fitter bombers to fly for 10 more years. At least.

Sukhoi_Su-22M-4_Fitter-K_of_Polish_Air_Force

The Polish Ministry of National Defense has eventually decided that the Polish Air Force Su-22 Fitters will remain active for at least 10 more years. The Cold War era fighter bomber has been in service in the Polish Air Force for nearly 30 years now.

As reported earlier this year, Poland was considering to get rid of its fleet of Su-22 attack planes, possibly replacing them with UCAVs (unmanned combat air vehicles).

eighteen of the Fitterss in best shape are to remain active, including 12 Su-22M4 single seaters and 6 UM3K trainers.

The Military Aviation Works no. 2 in Bydgoszcz is going to refurbish the aircraft’s equipment. It is the same facility that takes care of the more modern Polish F-16s.

The main aim of the refurbishment is to make the old fighter-bombers more interoperable with other NATO aircraft.

Additionally the Su-22 engines are going to be refurbished by Military Aviation Works No. 4. This facility is located in Warsaw.

The Su-22s are going to be used then in accordance with their technical status. The planned modifications are quite interesting, even though the scope of works is not so wide.

According to dziennikzbrojny.pl website the changes would include installation of an ICAO and Eurocontrol compliant communications suite (8, 33 kHz channel spacing).

There are also rumors that the Polish Fitters are to get new instruments, scaled in the imperial units. This would also make cooperation with the NATO aircraft easier for the pilots.

When it comes to application of the old fighter-bombers, they will be an  important asset within the special forces and anti-aircraft gunners training programs, taking over the duties already done by the Polish F-16.

Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist

Image Credit: Wiki

 

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These days, the Baltic region is a buzzing hive of NATO planes

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On May 1. the Polish Air Force will take responsibility for the Baltic Air Policing: four MiG-29 Fulcrums accompanied by more than 100 soldiers will deploy to Lithuania. Along with all the armament and equipment needed to keep the detachment active until Aug. 31.

What makes this rotation so special is the fact that the Polish Fulcrums are going to be supported by U.S. F-15 Eagles, RAF Eurofighter Typhoons, Danish F-16s and French Rafales.

According to various media outlets the massive deployment of NATO aircraft in the Baltic area is related to Ukrainian crisis even if Russian activity in the entire region has been quite intense and frequent well before the invasion of Crimea and the subsequent crisis.

The official aim of the deployment is to conduct air patrols and intercepts over Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia. Additionally the jet fighters will assist jetliners and fighter jets in case of emergencies.

As usual, most of the aircraft will be stationed in Šiauliai base, Lithuania.

Meanwhile, a Baltic Region Training Event (BRTE) is taking part at Šiauliai on Apr. 1 – 2.

The exercise features Swedish Gripens, E-3 Sentry, Lithuanian C-27Js and the USAFE F-15Cs stationed in Lithuania for the Baltic Air Policing rotation.

The exercise is a routine event organized by the NATO Allied Air Command (COM AIRCOM) from Ramstein and Combined Air Operations Centre Uedem (CAOC Uedem).

KC-135Rs operating from Germany provide the air-refueling support.

The exercise is focusing mostly on air-to-air training, especially within the scope of the coordination and emergency procedures during QRA (Quick Reaction Alert), e.g. in case of communication problems. One drill with Gripens and F-15C jet fighters in a renegade scenario has been already carried out.

Other missions to be conducted include SAR operations and low altitude passes over Palanga and Vilnus airports, in order to enhance the way the civilian staff and the air forces cooperate.

Fueled by an image posted on Facebook as an April Fools day joke, rumors spread on Social Network that F-22 Raptors were deploying to Poland. The radar evading planes were actually deploying to Al Dhafra, UAE for the usual rotation in the Persian Gulf.

Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist

Image Credit: U.S. Air Force

 

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Meanwhile, additional U.S. aircraft are amassing in Poland

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More U.S. aircraft have deployed to Poland amid growing concern for Russian presence in Central-Eastern Europe.

Last week, three C-130J Super Hercules aircraft deployed to 33rd Air Transport Base in Powidz, Poland.

The transport planes will take part in an exercise featuring also paratrooper drops over the Drawsko and Błędowska Desert ranges as well as launches over the Powidz base itself.

The joint drills are expected to include COMAO (Composite Air Operations) witn Polish F-16s and MiG-29s, as well as C-130Js, including grass runway training for the transport aircraft.

The Super Hercules turbo-prop transports come from Ramstein AFB in Germany and belong to the 37th Airlift Squadron, which is a part of USAFE.

Air Traffic Controllers and Command personnel is also going to participate in the event.

The official stance is that the Hercules deployment has nothing to do with Ukraine and is a routine activity related to the USAF rotation in Poland, but US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said that due to the Crimean Crisis, Washington is going to increase its military presence in Central-Eastern Europe.

Twelve F-16 jet fighters hailing from Aviano airbase, Italy, came to Task AB mid-march. So far, the exercise they take part in has lasted for two weeks and is still going on.

The General Command of the Polish Armed Forces also informed that an American Officer is to work at Powidz AB on a permanent basis. He is going to replace one of the Poles who is currently staying in Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina.

Another two Polish captains are serving in Luke AFB, Arizona. The personnel exchange is based on 2012 memorandum, and serves to increase the  experience exchange between the staff.

Image Credit: DoD

Jacek Siminski foe TheAviationist

 

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U.S. F-15E goes supersonic over UK: ceiling tiles come down in local Supermarket

Swift and lethal

A sonic boom probably caused by U.S. F-15E Strike Eagles shook homes and businesses in Wales.

The sonic boom that caused several ceiling tiles come down in a supermarket in the Welsh town of Aberystwyth, UK, was caused by U.S. fighter planes.

Indeed, according to the statement issued by the Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft from RAF Lakenheath had been training in the area when something went wrong.

Initially, the exercise was to be carried out over the sea, but due to the fact that the airspace the exercise was planned in was lost, the jets were directed to RAF military training airspace over the southern part of Wales.

The Strike Eagle which went supersonic broke the “sound barrier” at the altitude of 18,000 feet inadvertently causing the sonic boom.

Here’s  how the last part of the USAFE statement reads:

We offer our sincerest apologies for any disturbance or concern that this may have caused. We continue to emphasise airspeed restrictions in our pre-flight briefings to minimise the possibility of inadvertently breaching the sound barrier.

Supersonic flight over the land is usually forbidden for the military aircraft in normal, peacetime conditions except for specific areas.

In CONUS (Continental US) one of these areas is the HASSC (High Altitude Supersonic Corridor), located in Southern California. HASSC is used for flight testing, and it passes over Edwards Air Force Base. It is not the sole corridor of this type, but it is one of the few controlled by the military.

Most of these are within the FAA jurisdiction.

According to the FAA regulations the controlled airspace extends up to 60,000 feet. Anything flying above may fly at “unlimited speeds.”

There is no risk of noise pollution at these altitudes. Supersonic flights are of course permitted in special conditions, for example in case fighter jets have to intercept hijacked liners.

Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

 

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MiG working on a new interceptor, capable of Mach 4

Mig-31

The Russian Armed Forces are working on the Mig-41, a new supersonic  fighter based on the Mig-31 Foxhound.

According to the famous experimental pilot Anatoliy Kvochur, the MiG-41 is to be capable of reaching speeds above Mach 4, even Mach 4,3. That would make the plane faster than the (now retired) American SR-71 Blackbird. Currently, the Foxhound is capable of flying at speeds of Mach 2.8.

Nevertheless, while developing a Mach 4+ replacement for the Foxhound, the Russians will to continue the modernization program of the Foxhounds, overhauling over 100 aircraft.

MiG-31 is an interceptor based on MiG-25 Foxbat, with a combat radius of 720 km. A group of  four Foxhounds is able to control an area that is 1000km wide; 190 MiG-31s are currently in service within the Russian Air Force, 100 of those are still flyable. 

Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist

Image credit: oboudna.org

 

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