Polish Cold War era Su-22 Fitters have received a new color scheme as part of a modernization package

Polish Su-22 Fitters Receive A Modernization Package Including A Change Of The Color Scheme

Last year, the Polish Ministry of Defense decided to extend the operational life, that has lasted for 30 years, of 18 out of 32 Su-22 jets used by the Polish Air Force: 12 Su-22M4 single-seaters and 6 Su-22M3K two-seat trainers will remain in active service according to the report published by the Polska Zbrojna outlet.

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.

Image Credit: Wojskowe Zakłady Lotnicze Nr 2 S.A.


About Jacek Siminski
Standing contributor for TheAviationist. Aviation photojournalist. Co-Founder of DefensePhoto.com. Expert in linguistics, Cold War discourse, Cold War history and policy and media communications.


  1. Will these updated jets have any operational practical value in a NATO combat environment? It would be better to sell them (and the other 18) to Iraq for a fair price.
    I guess that goes against American interests.

    On the other side calling “modernization”, the switch to the Imperial system is ironic… it should be the other way around, but I understand in aviation it works like that…

  2. There are many of us “Good Guys” (USA for me) who have always had respect for Soviet jets. They are rugged and reliable. If they’re inferior to Western jets all the better. However it’s never a smart thing to place your enemy in the role of the inferior. Those jets are made with a different set of specifications in mind. And yes, they were built by an inferior industrial sector. However ask yourself this, after the WP and NATO had destroyed each other’s airbases who’s jets would operate off dirt and grass better? I think if that had happened we in the West would have to be a bit more humble in our assessment of Soviet “junk”.

  3. Western aviation has, on average, used NM for distance, knots for speed, feet for altitude & pounds for fuel even in those countries which use the metric system in other domains. Imagine trying the pain in the ass of converting a NATO AWACS call of “Group, Bullseye 3-5-0/45 (NM)” into kilometers on the fly (pun intended). Plus, since since each degree of latitude/longitude is 60NM (at equator), navigating in NM/knots is 10x easier than in km. So, yes- an upgrade.

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