Defender 2020 Europe: Polish 6th Airborne Brigade in Airdrop Operations

The 6th Airborne Brigade of the Polish Armed Forces during an air drop. (Image: screenshot from YT video embedded in the post).

Polish 6th Airborne Brigade Drops Vehicles during the Defender 2020 Exercise in Poland.

The Defender 2020 Europe exercise, with some of its episodes happening in Poland, is one of the largest NATO exercises organized this year. From Jun. 5 to 19, 2020, it involves almost 6,000 Polish troops and 2,000 vehicles. Most of the exercise is underway in Drawsko Pomorskie, at one of the largest Polish military training ranges. The brigade got ready for the operation conducting some air-drops at the “Pustynia Błędowska” range near Cracow.

During the exercise, some new capabilities have been put to test. This includes air-drop of vehicles conducted by the Polish 6th Airborne Brigade – the drop of the Aero 4×4 all-terrain vehicles constitutes the first operation as such organized since 34 years: the last airdrop as such happened back on Apr. 25, 1986, and it involved two P-7 platforms with UAZ-469B vehicles dropped from An-12B.

Drops as such, involving the C-130s, usually take place at an altitude of 150 to 400 meters (500 – 1,300 feet), at a speed of around 230 kilometers per hour (120 knots). During the Defender 2020 exercise, the speed was 120 knots, and it took place at a much lower altitude – 150 meters. Three Aero 4×4 vehicles can fit in a single C-130.

The Aero 4×4 vehicle. (Image credit: 6th Airborne Brigade)

The Aero 4×4 is a new asset in the inventory of the Brigade and the unit is still optimizing the rigging methods – thus we can say that the exercise has been an important, yet practical, test for the new vehicles. The drop took place without any issues or problems emerging along the way. The brigade is also optimizing the methods to employ the Aero 4×4 vehicle. They are used to gather CDS (Container Delivery System) equipment containers after the air-drop, but the element is also talking about using the vehicle to carry Spike ATGM squads or the casualties.

Noteworthy Aero 4×4 has been developed, tested, and delivered in a record-breaking time of less than a year from the moment when the MoD signed the agreement with the manufacturer. The vehicle uses a Toyota Land Cruiser as its base platform (LJ71 model with a short wheelbase and 4.2-liter diesel engine). It has been developed by a consortium formed by Auto Podlasie, Auto Special Modlniczka, Hibneryt, and Kafar companies.

In this post you can find some awesome footage provided to us by the 6th Airborne Brigade of the Polish military, depicting the unit’s involvement in the Defender ’20 training exercise.

All In all, almost 500 paratroopers have been involved in the air-drop operations, with equipment and vehicles. The operations undertaken by the Polish airborne elements were also observed by the deputy commander of the 1st Cavalry Division, Brig. Gen. Brett Sylvia.

If you’re interested in activities undertaken by the leading Polish airborne element, make sure to check their facebook page.


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