Author Archives: Jacek Siminski

Polish F-16s prepare to take part in NATO Baltic Air Patrol mission for the very first time

Poland is about to support the air policing mission over the Baltic States.

The Polish Air Force is to commit some of its F-16 jets to the NATO BAP (Baltic Air Policing) operation beginning in May.

This is going to be the first time long-term deployment to Lithuania for the Polish Vipers: so far, Poland has contributed to the mission with the venerable MiG-29 Fulcrum jets.

Pilots and soldiers of the 31st Airbase of Krzesiny (in the vicinity of Poznan) are going to be tasked with operating four F-16 airframes during the BAP mission. Furthermore, as Polska Zbrojna reports, the operation is going to have a very joint and expansive character, since the deployment is to include personnel of the Łask 32nd AB (which is the second base hosting the Polish Air Force’s Lockheed jets), navigators and air traffic controllers, weather specialists, Polish military Police, as well as intelligence and counterintelligence servicemen.

This is the first time that the Polish F-16 replaced the Soviet-era Fulcrums in the Baltic Air Policing task. A few years back, doubts were voiced, as to why the F-16 could not deployed in the Baltics, ranging from cost considerations, to FOD damage risk.

It seems that tape M6.5 update, recently implemented, was required to have the jets deployed.

It is interesting to notice a change in the Polish F-16’s engagement doctrine: along with operating in the “recce role” against ISIS in the Middle East, they will also support BAP from Lithuania.

If you want to find out more about the Polish F-16 aircraft, check out our feature article published last year.

The “Orlik” Deployment is going to be stationed at the BAP MOB (Main Operating Base) in Šiauliai. Intelligence and ATC officers and navigators are going to be stationed at the control and recce center of Karmelava.

The Polish rotation is going to last from May 1 to Aug. 31, with the Polish pilots of the Krzesiny AB carrying out the QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) and air policing duties. Deployment of the forces is going to begin in late April, and it is going to be preceded with “Orlik-17” exercise, planned in Poland.

This is the seventh Polish rotation in support of Baltic Air Policing operation, with the Poles now taking over the responsibilities from the Dutch RNlAF pilots flying the F-16 fighter aircraft, who have been on duty in Lithuania since Jan 5, 2017.

The first ever Polish deployment took place back in 2006. The mission has been carried out since 2004, when Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia asked NATO to provide air assets to protect their airspace.

Image Credit: Wojciech Mazurkiewicz

 

Polish F-16s have received the first AGM-158 JASSM low observable standoff air-launched cruise missiles

Polish Air Force Receives the First Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles.

Based on the photographs taken by Cpt. Krzysztof Nanuś of the 31st Airbase in Krzesny, and subsequent publication of the aforesaid imagery by Bartosz Kownacki, Polish Deputy Minister of Defense, Poland has already received the first AGM-158 JASSM missiles.

Just recently, in December, a contract concerning the acquisition of the extended range AGM-158B variant has been signed.

As Dziennik Zbrojny notes, the blue stripes visible on the missiles depicted by the photographs suggest that the ordnance presented is inert. More importantly, the release probably refers to deliveries related to the contract signed by the former government, back in 2014.

There was no mention of the modernization of the F-16 jets in the release though. The MLU program in question assumes that the Polish F-16 software suite would be upgraded from the 4.3 up to the M6.5 variant. The upgrade integrates new armament, Link 16 net-centric suite, IFF system and updates and modifies the AIDEWS defensive suite.

Moreover, the new software also implements simulation capabilities and, finally, allows the jets to use the modified SniperXR targeting pods, as Mariusz Cielma of Polish media outlet Dziennik Zbrojny reports.

AGM-158A missiles are expected to achieve initial operational readiness, within the Polish Air Force, in March this year.

Poland currently operates 48 Vipers in the Block 52+ variant. The JASSMs will significantly increase the their strike capabilities:  the large, stealthy long-range weapon is able to destroy targets at distances of 370 km (ca. 220 miles). This allows the Viper to destroy the target outside of the SAMs (Surface to Air Missiles) envelope, which is a major step in comparison to the current Polish A2G armament which has a maximum range of 70km.

The AGM-158 has been used by the Americans since 2003 and it is one of the most modern missiles in the world. The new missile uses its inertial navigation and GPS (global positioning systems) to find its target, and an infrared seeker for pinpoint accuracy right before impact.

Image Credit: Cpt Krzysztof Nanuś via Bartosz Kownacki’s TT account

 

Boeing 747-400 on a DoD mission lands at Poznan airport for the first time in history, bringing 300 US troops to Poland.

An Atlas Air Boeing 747-400 on “a military passenger charter flight” for the U.S. Defense Department’s (DoD) landed for the first time at the Polish airport of Poznan.

An Atlas Air B747, operating for the Pentagon, was used to transport more than 300 US soldiers to Poznan, in western Poland, on Jan. 11, 2017.

The soldiers were then transported to Żagań, Świętoszów, Skwierzyna and Bolesławiec from Poznan by buses, while the jet later flew to Wrocław, transporting some of the troops to an alternate destination.

Noteworthy, this was the very first time that the iconic Boeing’s airliner landed at the Poznan Ławica Airport.

According to the soldiers speaking to the press, the weather in Poland now is similar to the one in Colorado, except for more humidity and milder winds.

Originally, the Jumbo Jet was to land in Poznan (flying from Colorado Springs) on midday, however, due to bad weather it arrived at the Polish airport (with a stopover in Frankfurt) around 4.50 AM at night.

The troop transport carried out by the Atlast Air, one of the largest carriers of air cargo for the U.S. military, is part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, whose aim is to provide support and reinforcement on the NATO Eastern Flank threatened by Russia since the Ukrainian crisis.

The U.S. units deployed to Poland include medics and CRBN specialists, as well as the communications experts.

The Aviationist had a chance to be at the Ławica airport in Poznan at the night of the Boeing’s arrival, which has been possible thanks to the Airport’s marketing team. Many thanks go to Witold Łożyński, who hosted us at the departures.


Image credit: Jacek Siminski

This video shows the Polish MiG-29 Fulcrum air display at RIAT from inside the cockpit

Here’s How The RIAT Display of the Polish Air Force MiG-29 Fulcrum Looked Like “From the Office.”

In this video, you can watch, from the inside, the display routine performed by the Polish Air Force pilot Adrian Rojek during the RIAT 2015 at RAF Fairford in the UK.

The clip includes the high-performance take-off and other maneuvers that are peculiar to the Fulcrum, such as the famous tailslide.

Even though the Fulcrum is gradually becoming obsolete, it is still an agile airframe with a quite impressive flight envelope.

Despite its age, the Polish Air Force MiG-29 has become a desirable attendant of the RIAT show, thanks to the vertical take-off routine included in the display, which is beyond spectacular. The video shows this maneuver from the perspective of the “driver.”

Notably, the video also provides an insight into the effort that is required to perform such aerobatics in a fast jet.

 

Salva

Impressive photos of the Polish Air Force MiG-29 Fulcrum Night Operations at Minsk Mazowiecki

Awesome Photos Show the Polish MiG-29s during Night Ops.

Here are some shots taken at the 23rd Tactical Air Base of the Polish Air Force where MiG-29 aircraft are stationed. The set of photographs shows the night operations of the Fulcrum jets of the  stationed in Minsk Mazowiecki.

The 23rd Tactical Air Base continues the traditions of the famous RAF Squadron 303., which made great contributions to the Battle of Britain. This is shown through the unit’s emblem, taken over from the famous Kościuszko squadron.

The 23rd at Minsk Mazowiecki is one of the two Polish bases that operate the Fulcrum. The other unit is located in Malbork, in the West Pomerania district, by the Baltic Sea – the 22nd Tactical Air Base.

Beginning on Dec. 1. the base has been commanded by Air Force Col. Piotr Iwaszko, who is also an instructor pilot and test pilot. Moreover, Iwaszko has also been working as a Polish Fulcrum Demo pilot. He has logged around 1,400 hours of flight time so far, with more than 830 flying the Fulcrum.

Notably, Polish MiG-29 jets have undergone a minor upgrade in the recent years. The modernization works also resulted in application of a new color scheme.

When it comes to the operational role ascribed to the MiG-29, within the structure of the Polish Air Force, it is tasked mainly with air policing and intercepts. However, ground attack training sorties are also flown to the PolAF training ranges in a variety of regions of Poland.

In order to maintain their proficiency, the pilots are involved in night and daytime training, across a variety of weather conditions, including snow, as the stunning photographs, taken by Wojciech Mazurkiewic show.

Image credit: Wojciech Mazurkiewicz