Author Archives: Jacek Siminski

Six U.S. Army helicopters make an unplanned landing in a rapeseed field in Poland

Six U.S. Army helicopters have made an impromptu landing in Poland

On Sept. 10, six U.S. Army choppers landed in the middle of a rapeseed field near Gruta, Poland. Since the pilots did not know their location they received information leafleats on the municipality, in English.

The group consisted of Chinook and Black Hawk utility helicopters.

The unusual event gathered around 100 spectators. According to the information provided by TVN24 the chopper pilots lost their orientation due to the foggy weather conditions.

According to the official statement of the US Embassy the choppers, belonging to the U.S. Army 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, stationed in Germany, got a much appreciated warm welcome: aircrews were greeted by the locals with cakes and coffee.

The helicopters departed again to their destination about 2 hours later.

Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist

Choppers in Poland take off

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Poland wants new Attack Helicopters to replace Mi-24 Hind gunships. Soon.

Poland has changed its priorities regarding acquisition of the helicopters. The general-purpose combat helicopter was to be the first purchase of the Polish Armed Forces, but now the weight has been shifted towards the assault choppers.

The original modernization plan for the Polish Armed Forces saw the Mi-24 Hind helicopters replaced not before 2020-22.

However, the ageing Hind gunships could make room to a new chopper as early as 2017, whereas the tender for the utility helicopter has been postponed.

There may be several reasons behind the decision to review the plans, including the Ukrainian crisis and the need to face Russian Mi-28 Havocs, several of those have been deployed to Kaliningrad Oblast, quite close to the Polish northern border.

According to Gazeta Wyborcza, one of the leading Polish dailies, the military officials claim that Mi-24 Hinds no longer have a high combat value. The trends in development of the assault helicopters are quite different from the concept that was driving the development progress of Mi-24 which could be treated as a beefed-up version of Huey with its 8-person transport capacity in the cabin placed within the fuselage. Contemporary assault gunships are more of CAS-tools, with much less transport-related capabilities.

Gazeta Wyborcza daily is quoting the Polish strategists who point out that in case of the Ukrainian crisis, the Ukrainian Army was unable to deploy units quick enough to face the Russian invasion.

Quick deployment is one of the key elements of the defensive operations, and this cannot be realized without CAS (Close Air Support) from the helicopters or assault aircraft. Since acquisition of the A-10 is quite unrealistic, assault choppers may be an appropriate solution.

The value of the attack helicopter bid is estimated to be 1 billion Euro, worth one of the biggest chopper procurement deal issued by a NATO member state.

Possible choices? AW-129 Mangusta and AH-64 Apache.

They are not to be produced in Poland, contrary to what is going to happen in case of the Polish utility helicopter tender.

The AH-64 is quite an expensive whereas the AW-129 is significantly cheaper. However, it will be the situation in eastern Europe and the diplomatic relations between U.S., Italy and Poland rather than the performance, payload and capabilities of the helicopters, to play a major role in the tender.

Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist

Image Credit: Wikimedia


Putin Denies Reactivation of the Cuban Radar Station

Vladimir Putin said that Russia will not reactivate the radar reconnaisance station in Cuba.

Last week Russian newspaper Kommersant reported the news (that has been circulating for at least a couple of years) that there were plans to reopen Russia’s eavesdropping station in Cuba, which has not been used since 2001.

However, reports about the reactivation of the facility were denied by Putin who spoke to ITAR-TASS news agency and said that “In agreement with our friends, this center was closed, and we have no plans to resume its work,” as Russia would “meet its defense needs without this component.”

The base was used from 1967 until 2001.  During the last decade of the 20th century, significant staff reductions took place.

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Russian Radars back to Cuba

Putin is about to reactivate a Russian radar reconnaissance center in Cuba.

The radar station is to use the existing infrastructure located just 100 miles off the coast of Florida used by the Russians until Jan. 27, 2002 to intercept the data from the U.S. satellites and U.S. Navy communication systems.

Raul Castro, who in 1993 was Cuban Minister of Defense, said that about 75% of the intelligence gathered by the Russians in overall, was collected by means of Cuban radars.

Nevertheless, at the beginning of the century, the infrastructure, which employed circa 1,000 people, was too expensive to maintain: 580 million USD (20 billion Rubles), including 200 million USD paid just for the presence of the Russians.

The situation and aims of the Russians have changed significantly since then, and according to the Polish defense outlet Dziennik Zbrojny, Putin is planning the reactivation of the Cuban radar installation, most probably to put some more pressure on the U.S. in the region, more than 50 years after the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Havana is going to take advantage of the renewed relationship: according to some media outlets, the Cuban outstanding debt towards Russia has been reduced by 90%, which equals 32 billion USD; the remaining 10% are to be paid by 6-month installments.

Image Credit: Wikipedia

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Russia’s fifth generation PAK-FA prototype catches fire on landing

Russian T-50 fighter plane damaged on the ground.

On Jun. 10, Russia’s 5th generation stealth fighter plane Sukhoi T-50 (PAK FA – Perspektivny Aviatsionny Kompleks Frontovoy Aviatsii—Future Tactical Air System) which since February has been a subject of state test programme in Zhukovski, caught fire on landing.

The landing was succesful and Sergey Bogdan, the Russian test pilot who flew the T-50 during the test flight, was unharmed. Sukhoi officials claim that the fire was local, and was quickly extinguished. The fighter is to be repaired.

Two remaining examples of T-50 are undergoing ground tests and static tests. According to the official stance of the Sukhoi company, the incident will not have an impact on the test program, and the proceedings are to be continued in accordance with the planned schedule.

Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist

Image credit: United Aircraft


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