ZLOT (meaning the gathering) is the name of an annual exercise that takes place in Krzesiny AB near Poznan in the Greater Poland district.
Ending on Oct. 24, its peculiarity is that all the types of military aircraft flying with Polish Armed Forces take part in the drills; therefore ZLOT is one of the few occasions to spot them all in one place.
The exercise is a gathering of almost 50 commanders of aerial units together with flight instructors and serves towards better integration of operations.
The exercise has a character of a training course, including exams. The topics covered include the aviation law, mission planning, operational procedures, navigation, radionavigation, communication and servicing of the aircraft. The exams are taken not only by the Air Force commanders, but also by Navy Aviation and Army Aviation staff.
The last part of the course includes the methodological training that covers topics such as future of the Air Force, conclusions from training programmes, exchange of the experiences from the deployments and finally the introduction of the new AJT plane.
The course and exams of the armed forces aviation executive staff is a summary of this year’s training in the aerial units – the AF commander, Gen. Majewski said. The training focuses on the abilities of our aviation, quality of training, new system and procedures and all the other things that could be better.
The way the missions are conducted is also evaluated, including the time constraints of the missions, be it intercepting, transport or ground attack.
The flying took place over the Central Nadarzyce Aviation Range.
This year’s ZLOT was the last one that featured the traditional division of the armed forces (separate commands for Army Aviation, Navy Aviation and the Air Force). Air Force is to have one unified command next year, that will make it easier to deal with managing the aerial assets.
New aircraft appeared within the Polish Air Force as well – new VIP W-3 helicopters and the last C295 transport aircraft. M-28 Bryza and new AJT (Advanced Jet Trainer) are also going to be introduced in the AF soon. The AJT is to replace the TS-11 Iskras (Sparks), which are over 50 years old. Iskras are going to be retired in two years. The Orlik turboprops are also going to receive an upgrade – F-16’s avionics.
What is more the fate of Su-22‘s is being gradually clarified. It is possible that Poland will buy older F-16 jets, like Romania to replace the Fitters in the Świdwin AB. There are more and more rumours about possibility of creating third F-16 squadron within the Polish Air Force.
The Su-22’s will attend two more ZLOTs. The Su-22 is also going to be partially replaced by drones. Back in the 1980s Polish AF operated 110 Fitters. Now just 30 are left.
Image Credit: Piotr Łysakowski
Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist