Tag Archives: Polish Air Force

Polish Air Force MiG-29 Fulcrum Crashes Killing Pilot

A Polish Fulcrum crashed last night. Pilot found dead.

On Jul. 6, a Polish MiG-29 (reportedly: airframe bort no. 4103) has crashed in the village of Sakówko (Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship). The cause of the crash is unknown. The pilot ejected but did not survive. According to the Polish MoD the pilot was declared dead at 2.30 AM. The disaster happened at 1.57 AM. The Fulcrum belonged to the 22nd Airbase in Malbork.

According to the foreign media quoted by a former Polish jet pilot, Michał Fiszer, in his interview for the TVN24 outlet, the pilot belonged to the demo team showcasing the Fulcrums on air shows. The MoD release suggests that the late pilot was quite an experienced aviator, with 800 hours logged in the air and 500 of those were logged on the Fulcrum. The wreckage has been found around 500 meters from the residential buildings, while the body of the pilot was 200 meters from the wreck.

The circumstances are being investigated now by the Polish Committee for Investigation of National Aviation Accidents (Polish: Komisja Badania Wypadków Lotniczych Lotnictwa Państwowego; KBWLLP), which is the aircraft accident investigation agency of Poland regarding state and military aircraft. It is distinct from the State Commission on Aircraft Accidents Investigation, which investigates civil aviation accidents. The MoD asked the journalists not to comment and speculate on the disaster, until an official report is issued.

Notably, this is the second crash of a Polish Fulcrum in little more than 6 months. Last one happened occurred to the other Fulcrum base in Minsk Mazowiecki. In that case, however, according to ‘off the record’ sources, the pilot, who did not eject and landed the jet in the woods – survived.

Top image: composite photo showing, on the left, the wreckage of a Polish Air Force MiG-29 jet that crashed in the fields in the country’s north during a night training flight, near the town of Paslek, in Poland (credit: AP Photo/TVN24) and a Fulcrum at Radom Air Show last year (credit: Siminski).

Watch this: Polish Su-22 Fitter Deploys Drag Chute Before Touching the Runway

This is something you don’t see too often: early deployment of the drag parachute.

Last Saturday something unusual took place at the Polish Air Force’s 21st Airbase in Świdwin, during the airbase’s open day. As a part of the display routine a Su-22 Fitter jet intentionally overshot the landing: the pilot deployed the drag chute prematurely, causing the aircraft to hit the runway very hard.

It was also an unusual sight to see the jet with the chute trailing behind it, still being up in the air. This also gave the photographers and spectators at the base to witness this unique sight.

Drag (or drogue) chutes are a quite common design trait of the Soviet-made jets. The system consists of a single or several parachutes placed in a special pod located in the rear section of the fuselage. The chute is ejected with the use of a smaller parachute, spring-driven or compressed air based system. After the aircraft comes to a halt, the chute is separated to prevent the aircraft from being dragged on the runway. Moreover, the chute often comes with a safety system, with a ring that breaks if the braking system is deployed at a speed which is too high. In the case above probably the speed was low enough to keep the said element intact and the chute stayed in its place.

Notably, the drag created by drogue chutes is lower than the one experienced in case of the conventional drop-parachutes in order to prevent damage to the aircraft.

The one in the video is one of the techniques used to land on a damaged runway: the chute is deployed about 7 feet above the runway and the aircraft only needs 350 meters to stop.

Behind The Scenes Of An Amazing Air-To-Air Photoshoot With Two F-16C Block 52+ Jets

Ever wondered how some of the air-to-air photos which appear in aviation magazines are taken? This video will give you an answer…

The following clip was filmed by world famous photographer Sławek Krajniewski, best known as “Hesja“, from a Polish Air Force CASA C-295 during NATO Tiger Meet 2018, that took place at the 31st Tactical Air Base in Poznan-Krzesiny, Poland, between May 14 and May 25.

The air-to-air photo shooting involved two Polish Air Force F-16C Block 52+ Fighting Falcon jets from 6th Tiger’s Fighter Squadron somewhere over Kołobrzeg and Bagicz airfield.

As you can see, the two “Vipers” flew extremely close to the photo-ship, so much so it seems the photographers could almost touch the F-16s. The video is also interesting because it shows the maneuvering and work required from both sides (pilots and photographers) to get the cool shots you can find on aircraft magazines and websites all around the world.

In case you were wondering what kind of lens Hesja used during the shooting, here they are: 70-200mm and 24-120mm. One of the shots resulting from the multiple “breaks” that you can see in the last part of the clip can be found here below:

Make sure you visit Hesja website and like his Facebook page here for more amazing photographs!

Almost Unnoticed, U.S. Air Force Begins MQ-9 Reaper Drone Operations out of Poland

USAF deploys its MQ-9 Reaper Drones to Poland.

USAF issued a short release, suggesting that the service has deployed MQ-9 Reaper UAV systems to Poland. The drones would be stationed at the Mirosławiec Air Base, which is the Poland’s airbase dedicated to host the unmanned platforms. The release issued by the Americans reads as follows:

The United States and Poland have a standing relationship to address issues of regional and global security. To advance those interests, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, the air component of U.S. European Command, is operating MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft at Miroslawiec Air Base as a visible expression of U.S. efforts to enhance regional stability. This mission, starting in May 2018, has been fully coordinated with the Polish government. It is designed to promote stability and security within the region and to strengthen relationships with NATO allies and other European partners.

The release, as we can see, is laconic and went by virtually unnoticed. It was issued on May 21 and does not specifiy how long the deployment is going to last. The Mirosławiec Airbase only operates smaller UAV platforms, hence Reapers would be a major addition to its capabilities.

The news issued by USAFE sparked some doubts and questions among the experts and defense media practitioners in Poland. Since the Polish MoD cancelled some of its drone procurement plans some time ago, shifting the priorities, the USAFE assets may act as a complementary measure filling in the capability gap – this is an opinion that has widely circulated in the Polish defense media public sphere. The experts suggest that no further procurement in the area of ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) would be pursued by the Polish MoD, making use of the US assets to complement the capabilities at hand even though, for what deals with JASSMs (Joint Air-to-Surface Strategic Missiles) that have been acquired by the Polish Air Force, there is concern about a capability gap when it comes to actually designating targets for this strategic weapon.

Dawid Kamizela who works an analyst for the Polish Dziennik Zbrojny outlet expressed his concern that the UAVs in Poland may not even boost the Polish ISR capabilities. In a conversation, he told us the following:

According to what we have seen when it comes to operational practice pertaining to the MQ-9, the detachment in Poland, most probably, solely deals with maintenance of the assets and take offs and landings. The core of the operational activities would be controlled from CONUS, and the intelligence gathered when the UAV is flying in the Polish airspace is also being sent to CONUS directly – it is not being collected in Poland, it does not even ‘touch’ any part of the Polish infrastructure. As worrying as it is, the above would mean that even if Poland receives any intelligence, it would not come in a form of raw data, but rather as an interpreted report. Taking the local awareness into account, along with the knowledge of local conditions and geopolitical factors, the US interpretation may differ from the conclusions that could potentially be formed by the Polish analysts in Warsaw. This sparks numerous doubts, when it comes to the actual boost of the Polish ISR capability.

The Polish military has no MALE UAVs at its disposal now, procurement is being planned as a part of the Zefir programme that has not, fortunately, been a subject to cuts. MQ-9 and Israeli Hermes 900 platforms are viable candidates here. The Israeli drones, as the Defence24 outlet notes, have already made their operational debut in the Polish airspace, during the NATO Summit hosted in Warsaw and the World Youth Day. Two Zefir packages, as Defence24 recalled, are to be acquired until 2022, with procurement of another two envisaged as an option after the aforesaid deadline.

An-124 cargo aircraft were used to transfer the MQ-9s in Poland.

According to the unofficial information we have obtained, the Reapers arrived in Poland on May 9 and they were transported via the NATO SALIS solution by two An-124 airlifters that landed at the Poznan airport.

Image Credit: USAF, An-124 Image Credit: Jacek Siminski

NATO Tiger Meet 2018 and Poznan Air Show – Aviation Feast in Poland

We attended both Poznan Air Show and NATO Tiger Meet. And here’s a detailed report.

NATO Tiger Meet

This year’s edition of the NATO Tiger Meet exercise took place in Poland, at the 31st Tactical Air Base in Poznan-Krzesiny, between May 14 and May 25, with the media day being held on May 18.

We were given a chance to participate in the distinguished visitors and media day at the base to watch the operations undertaken by the Tiger squadrons gathered at Krzesiny that, throughout the course of the operation, has been responsible for planning, preparing and conducting, as well as managing the training operation. The base is a part of the 2nd Tactical Air Wing of the Polish Air Force.

Polish MiG-21 special.

The story of the Tiger Meets dates back to the year 1960. Back then USAF’s 79th Tactical Fighter Squadron and RAF’s 74th Squadron got themselves involved in a joint training operation, and then, one year later, a new tradition emerged to gather the squadrons that have a tiger in their emblem together within a single training event. The meetings were successful and Mike Dugan, who was the main initiator of the undertaking, has founded the NATO Tiger association.

Tiger Hornets taxing during NTM18.

6th Fighter Squadron is the Tiger squadron of the Polish Air Force. The unit is based in Poznan-Krzesiny and it flies the F-16 “Jastrząb” Block 52+ fighter aircraft. It made its debut during the NTM event back in 2011 – it was also a Tiger Meet that marked the NTA 50th Anniversary at Cambrai airbase, France. It did not take long for the Poles to succeed, as in 2014 they were voted the Best Flying Squadron, also becoming a full member of the NTA.

Polish Air Force F-16 “Jastrząb” Block 52+.

Within the structure of the Polish Air Force the unit is tasked with air-to-air and air-to-surface missions. It is interoperable with the NATO assets, and it has been proven, as the Polish officials suggest, during numerous international exercises, including: Red Flag Alaska, Frisian Flag (Netherlands), NATO Tiger Meets, Brilliant Arrow (Norway), Tactical Leadership Program (Albacete, Spain), Blue Flag (Israel), Eagle Talon, Cobra, Anakonda or Raróg.

The main objectives of the NTM18 training event included gaining more knowledge about combined air operations through active involvement in mission planning. Force integration is a result of the above – the participants learned to solve different problems throughout the course of the exercise. The event is also largely focused on conducting COMAOs (Combined Air Operations).

Italian Typhoon as seen from the back.

Indirectly, the training is aimed at improving and enhancing the skills of NATO cooperation, in line with the relevant procedures (SUPLAN M, SUPLAN D, 80-6). The fighter aircraft also had to work together with airlift and helicopter and missile and IADS (Integrated Air Defense System) assets, within the scope of COMAO scenarios. Land component was also involved in the exercise, for the sake of deepening the level of interoperational cooperation. Finally the training also involved FACs/TACs (Forward/Tactical Air Controllers) – within the scope of CAS (Close Air Support) sorties.

The training adopted a scenario of an international crisis set in a context of conventional and hybrid warfare settings. IADS, massive offensive strikes behind the enemy lines and short-term targeting were all a part of the missions flown, assuming that air support would be provided to the land assets.

Eurofighter Typhoon “Bavarian Tigers”.

The training involved defending of a designated area or border defense. The aircraft were also used for protection of high value assets, and the operations between IADS and airborne assets were closely coordinated to gain and maintain air superiority and protect own forces. Strike missions involved destruction of the critical infrastructure and SEAD/DEAD (surpression/destruction of the enemy air defense) sorties. Time-sensitive targets were also involved in the scenarios with pilots also tasked with self-searching the targets and working together weith JTACs. Finally, the operation also involved some scenarios in which the fighter aircraft were supporting untrained personnel.

NTM 18 involved around 2000 persons, hailing from Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Spain and Turkey, as well as Switzerland that plays a role of the partner nation. The formations have carried out 8 COMAO sorties (integrated ones) and more than 50 training missions as a part of shadow waves.

Tiger!

As NTM is an integrated operation it, alongside the air force, also involves land and airborne assets, special forces, artillery, IADS, ground recon assets, unmanned systems, logisticians, liaison personnel, medics, civil-military cooperation group as well as a PsyOps component.

Finally, it shall be noted that NTM took place at several Polish bases, with the Krzesiny airbase acting as the main hub for the fighter assets. Other locations involved include Powidz, Mirosławiec, Świdwin and Malbork. Drawsko, Ustka, Nadarzyce, Żagań and Biedrusko field training ranges act as the operational areas, along with other airspace sections dedicated for the training operation.

Alongside jet aircraft (mainly Typhoons and F-16s), Gazelle, Merlin, Super Puma and AB212 helicopters provided CSAR support for the exercise. A GFD Learjet was another interesting asset that simulated the Electronic Warfare aircraft during the operational activities. NATO AWACS platform, also supporting the exercise, were deployed to the Poznan International Airport, not at Krzesiny, which posed an interesting challenge within the scope of civil-military cooperation.

Unfortunately and sadly, organization-wise, both the media day and the spotters day were less than ideal.

When it comes to the spotters day, numerous mixed opinions emerged, especially in case of the foreign attendees, complaining about the logistics (transport operation – spotters were transported via buses to the base, from the M1 mall car park in Poznan – the procedures were too slow, too little buses and too little personnel were assigned to handle the transport of around 1200 people to the base), position for the photographers (heavily backlit one, near the old MiG-21 hangars), shooting space (too short span along the runway) or security guards who entered the field of view of the photographers. Also, it was impossible to include the undercarriage in the shots at some spots in that position. Finally, the place where the spotters were located made it impossible for them to capture the essence of the NATO Tiger Meet open days – taxing jets and the pilots assuming tiger poses in their cockpits. Tiger spirit also could not have been felt in the spotters’ area, at least not to a usual extent associated with the NTM.

Tiger-painted Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Sight.

It is also unclear as to who has been responsible for the chaos, as the event was organized jointly by the MTP (Poznan International Fair) and by the Polish military. Last, but not least, the spotter day ticket confirmations were sent out late due to the military counterintelligence verification required to access the base. This has been a major stumbling block for foreigners who could not have planned their trips to Poznan in advance. The question that may be raised is why the verification process took so long? Media communications pertaining to the event could have been better globally, and this is undoubtedly a domain where there is a lot of room for improvement, given the reputation the NATO Tiger Meet brand entails.

Poznan Air Show – Tigers saving the day!

Notably (and unusually as well) the NATO Tiger Meet exercise was coordinated in time with the Poznan Air Show event (formerly known as Aerofestival), organized at the Henryk Wieniawski Ławica International Airport in Poznan. The Aviationist has been attending the said event since its very inception, and we were, with a major satisfaction, observing the two editions grow and get better. After the first two editions (2015 and 2016), a gap year occurred, with the rebranded show coming back into existence this year.

According to the official press release issued by the organizers, the show grounds were visited by almost 70K people, with 80 aircraft being showcased in the air and on the ground – 720 minutes of dynamic displays could be watched by the audience. The dynamic display portion of the show was divided into three thematic blocks: 100th Anniversary of Poland’s Independence, 100th Anniversary of the Greater Poland Uprising and 100 Years of the Polish Military Aviation, as well as a NATO Tiger Meet section of the show.

Polish F-16 solo display.

Within the static display, decisively, the AWACS was one of the highlights, alongside numerous NATO Tiger Meet fighter aircraft wearing the tiger liveries.

Meanwhile, the dynamic displays were varied, yet undoubtedly the program was not as rich as the one back in 2016. Several warbirds performed their displays in the air – CAC13 Boomerang was the most unique one. Also, Artur Kielak, one of the best known Polish aerobatic pilots, besides performing his own crazy display, also flew a duo with the Yak-3U replica. Another highlight was the “Pterodactyl Flight” WWI reenactment group, whose display was, even though less dynamic, quite interesting, as it featured, for instance, the famous Fokker Triplane replica.

The NATO Tiger Meet themed section of the show featured a dynamic Spanish Eurofighter demo and two Gripen displays (Czech and Hungarian ones), as well as a demo display of the Austrian Saab. The French Navy sent its Rafale role demo team to the Poznan air show and, undoubtedly, this was a highlight of the NTM portion of the show. The jets made a simulated carrier approach with their landing hooks down at Ławica, which was an interesting sight to see. Finally, the Czech Air Force Mi-24 Hind demo closed the NTM themed part – unfortunately, the Alien-painted Mi-24 was presented on the static display, not in the air.

The last portion of the show that commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Polish military aviation included Spitfire display – referring to the famous RAF Squadron 303, and Polish TS-11 Iskra. The displays also included a MiG-29 solo display and F-16 Tiger Demo – nicely outlining the history of the Polish military aviation.

Swiss Air Force Hornet late afternoon take off.

Overall, the NTM section saved the show. Had it not been for the military jets hailing from the Tiger squadrons the Poznan Air Show event would have been less than impressive. Let’s hope that next year the organization is going to be better and the flying programme – more interesting. The event bears some significant potential and this potential has not been used fully during this year’s edition of the air show.

Summary

Summing it up, last weekend in Poznan, or in fact, last two weeks, have been quite intense for any avid fan of the military aviation. It was also a good way to start the air show season this year. We hope that the main centenary event that is going to be held in Radom in August will be even more impressive, display- and organization-wise.

All images: Jacek Siminski

More NTM18 Images can be found here, more Poznan Air Show images can be found here.