Author Archives: Jacek Siminski

Polish Air Force to form a new F-16 Viper Demo team. And here’s the jets livery

The New Tiger Paint Scheme For Polish Air Force F-16s Is Going To Be the Livery Of  Poland’s Viper Demonstration Team!

Polish Air Force’s Tiger Squadron – 6th Fighter Squadron based in Krzesiny, near Poznan – is going to be involved in the NATO Tiger Meet exercise in Turkey, scheduled to take place at Konya airbase, between May 4. and 15.

According to the Polish media outlet Lotnicza Polska, 2 out of 6 jets taking part in the exercise received special color schemes.

Besides the NATO Tiger Meet Exercise, the Krzesinian pilots would also be involved in the Greek Squadron Exchange event (between June and July) and in the Israeli Blue Flag Exercise, planned in November.

Notably, the Polish Vipers have been painted, not covered with a film-overlay. It seems that the Bydgoszcz-based Wojskowe Zaklady Lotnicze No. 2 (Military Aviation Works) facility has already acquired a proper technology needed to cover the body of the jets with lacquered paint scheme. Now, due to the new cover there is no risk that the special paint scheme would disappear. Quoting Piotr Rutkowski, a representative of the facility, Lotnicza Polska claims that plans to create the new paint scheme for the F-16s date back to 2014. However, at that time, the paints needed to create the scheme could not be exported from the US due to legal restrictions.

More than the paint scheme what is really interesting of the story published by Lotnicza Polska outlet is the final paragraph, according to which, the Polish F-16 Demo Team will finally be created. The demo-pilot is apparently involved in the training activities.

According to unofficial information obtained two months ago by The Aviationist, from a source closely tied with the Krzesiny AB, the Polish Viper demo is going to be similar in shape to the Viper Team West of the USAF.

Our source suggested that the show is going to involve two examples of the F-16. It has been also said that flares may not be a part of the display, since the countermeasures used by the Polish Vipers have a too long burning-time. Noteworthy, the new display team will retain the Tiger livery that will make its debut in Turkey.

The above development is particularly interesting also for PR reasons. So far, the only appearance the Polish F-16 has made during air shows was in a form of a flypast – this created some doubts among the public opinion – a lot of people claimed that Polish Vipers are not combat-capable and that they are lagging behind the MiG-29, that regularly performs dynamic displays at airshows around Europe.

Even though the Fulcrum is an older jet – its capabilities are much less advanced than those of the F-16 Block 52+ jets – the Polish Vipers have often suffered from some bad PR , especially among the public who has no in-depth expertise in aviation. The general audience reasoned that there must be something wrong with the new Polish fighters, since they were not flying dynamic displays at airshow.

The debut of the new Viper team is probably going to take place during the Radom Air Show. We are planning to attend the show and provide you with a report.

Image Credit: WZL no. 2

 

Polish Air Force F-16s join one of the most important NATO exercises in central Europe

Polish Air Force F-16s take part in Frisian Flag 2015 exercise

According to a report published by the Polska-Zbrojna media outlet, six Polish F-16 Block 52+ fighters from Łask airbase are currently involved in “Frisian Flag 2015” exercise, taking place at Leeuwarden AB, in the Netherlands.

The Dutch-based exercise is considered one of the most important NATO training events this year. It will involve U.S. Florida Air National Guard F-15 Eagles (currently deployed in Leeuwarden), Dutch F-16 Fighting Falcons, Finnish F/A-18 Hornets, German and Italian Eurofighters, along with NATO E-3A AWACS component and flying tankers from France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.

When it comes to the Polish involvement, the PolAF has sent six F-16 jets to the exercise: five single-seater jets and one F-16D  two-seater aircraft.

Not only is the Frisian Flag exercise aimed at conducting training combat sorties, but it also aims to train COMAO (composite air operations), whose purpose is to practice sorties in large formations and to bolster the interoperability of the NATO air forces.

Notably, the exercise will also contribute to enhance skills in aerial refueling operations and in cooperation with JTACs (Joint Terminal Attack Controllers) in air-to-surface missions; all missions will be conducted in a dense EW (Electronic Warfare) environment.

After attending Frisian Flag 2015, the Polish F-16 fighters are also going to attend the NATO “Air Meet” and the NATO Tiger Meet in Turkey, the annual meeting of the NATO Squadrons that have Tiger  emblems.

Image credit: Tim Felce/Wiki

 

Russian next generation stealth fighter to fall victim to the Russian financial crisis?

PAK-FA may suffer significant cuts.

Russian Deputy Minister of Defence Yuri Borisov, has recently announced that the PAK-FA programme may be halted or adjusted, due to the dire conditions of Russia’s economy, affected by the Ukrainian crisis and the subsequent (proxy war and) EU sanctions.

Initially, the Russian Air Force was expected to procure more than 150 PAK-FA next generation stealth fighter jets, with the first examples to be delivered to the active squadrons in 2016. In December 2014, the RuAF plans was to receive the first 55 fighters by 2020.

However, as announced by Russia’s MoD last month, the production will be slowed down and the initial order cut to 12 jets: the nation’s economy has deteriorated and the aircraft troubled development and increasing costs have persuaded the Russian Air Force to retain their large fleets of fourth-generation Sukhoi Su-27SM and Su-35S to obviate to the reduced amount of frontline next generation fighter jets.

Indeed, the PAK-FA program seems to be quite costly, because of the troublesome childhood of the new Russian fighter and the problems associated with the fighter’s powerplant.

According to the Polish media outlet Altair, the production is to be started next year, and the Russian Air Force would stop the production after the first 12 examples are acquired for a period of operational tests. This would serve two purposes: first of all, it would enable the Russian MoD to plan the procurement of Su-30SM and Su-35 jet fighters to eventually save some money. Secondly, that period would be used to test the PAK-FA’s operational capabilities, and possibly to get rid of any of the problems that could emerge during the initial field operations.

Sukhoi planned to sell some 400 fighters to the Russian and the Indian Air Force; figures that seems to be well above the current sales forecast: India has considerably reduced the requirement from 200 to no more than 130-145 jets, and has recently expressed concerns over the raising costs, delays and technical issues that have plagued the 10.5 billion USD FGFA (Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft), that is based on the PAK-FA aircraft.

Image credit: Sukhoi via Airforce.ru

 

U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II jets have deployed to Romania

Four U.S. Air Force A-10s have arrived in Romania. More to arrive in the next days.

It looks like the USAF Warthog attack planes are rapidly moving across eastern Europe: after deploying to Germany, as part of the first Air Force Theater Security Package, some TSP A-10s were relocated in the UK, others in Poland and, more recently, at least four have arrived in Romania.

The infamous Warthogs, coming from Spangdahlem airbase, are currently stationed at the 71 airbase of the Romanian Air Force – Campia Turzii.

Notably, this is not the first deployment of the A-10 to Transylvania. The A-10 were involved in “Dacian Thunder 2009” exercise in the past.

According to numerous Romanian media outlets, including the ziuaveche.ro and ziarul21.ro websites, the tank-busters are going to be involved in a long “Dacian Thunder 2015” operation, planned for the period between Mar. 27 and Jul. 7. 2015, which will involve 350 soldiers and 12 A-10s.

Provided this is confirmed, the deployment in Romania would be larger than the recent deployment in Poland which saw 4 Warthogs operate from Powidz AB, supporting the Dragoon Ride exercise.

When it comes to involvement of the Romanian Air Force, four MiG-21 LanceR fighters and six IAR-330 Puma helicopters will be taking part in the operation, providing SAR (Search and Rescue) and Medevac support.

Aim of the Dacian Thunder exercise is to enhance interoperability and provide training for the Romanian and U.S. pilots, through joint air operations. Not far from Ukraine, Crimea and Moldova.

Special thanks for help with translation of Romanian language to Łukasz Domanski.

 

U.S. A-10 Thunderbolt attack planes have arrived in Poland

Four U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft have arrived at Polish Powidz AB.

Last month, when the U.S. deployed 12 A-10s to Germany as part of the first TSP (Theater Security Package) we wrote that the aircraft might be temporarily stationed in Poland. Apparently, our assumptions turned out to be founded: on Mar. 24, four Thunderbolts have arrived at the 33rd Powidz Transport Air Base, near Gniezno, in the Greater Poland District.

The purpose of the visit is yet unknown. Most probably the Thunderbolts will be involved in the exercises related to Operation Atlantic Resolve, which is a NATO programme aimed at providing reassurance for the Mid-Eastern European countries (against the Russian threat).

The arrival of the attack aircraft was preceded by arrival of two USAF C-130 Hercules transports, one from the 86th Airlift Wing stationed at Ramstein AB and another one from the 302nd Airlift Wing from Colorado Springs, both part of the rotational USAF Aviation Detachment.

We do not have any information related to length or plan of the unexpected visit. Notably, one of the Warthogs was piloted by a female pilot.

Image Credit: 3rd Transport Aviation Wing, cpt. Włodzimierz Baran, Polish Air Force. More photos here.