Tag Archives: Polish Air Force

Polish Air Force MiG-29 Fulcrum Jets Return To Flight

Polish Air Force MiG-29 Fulcrums back in the air.

On Nov. 5, 2018, at 2:36PM, MiG-29UBM ’28’ of the Polish Air Force took off for a mission which marked the end the suspension of the Polish Fulcrum operations. The operations of the jets were suspended due to the crash on Jul. 6. 2018, that turned out to be fatal for the pilot, Lt. Krzysztof Sobański (posthumously promoted to the rank of a Captain) belonging to the 22nd Tactical Air Base in Malbork.

Only one jet got back to flying after practical implementation of the recommendations made by the Polish military aircraft accident investigation authority, the KBWLLP body (Komisja Badania Wypadków Lotniczych Lotnictwa Państwowego – Commission For Aircraft Accidents Investigation in State Aviation).

The KBWLLP has not disclosed its findings to the public. The timeline related to suspension involves two crashes, one that happened on Dec. 17. 2017 and the other one, fatal, mentioned above. Some rumors suggest that one of the main issues that led to the death of the pilot relates to the ejection seat, while the aircraft also had problems with its fuel system.

Our photo-correspondent, Wojciech Mazurkiewicz, was at the Minsk Mazowiecki Airbase on Nov. 5., providing us with imagery related to the MiG’s return to the sky.

MiG-29UBM ’28’ of the Polish Air Force took returning from its first mission after the stand down on Nov. 5. (Image credit: Wojciech Mazurkiewicz).

Notably, the Polish Air Force is looking forward to replace the Fulcrums and the Fitters, with the latter type operated by the 21st Tactical Air Base in Świdwin, through the Harpia program. The potential replacements include designs such as Gripen, F-16V, or F-35.

Image credit: Wojciech Mazurkiewicz

Radom Air Show – Polish Air Force’s Centenary – A Birthday without the Main Guest?

Radom Air Show 2018 report.

Last week, on Aug. 25. and 26., the Polish Air Force celebrated its 100th Anniversary, during a special Centenary edition of the Radom Air Show. Even though the occasion was quite spectacular, the event left somewhat a bittersweet taste with the audience. The Polish Air Force, the celebrant who had his 100th birthday organized in Radom, was not fully present at the show. Due to the richness of the programme, the airshow had its flying organized from two airfields: whilst most of the display aircraft were taking off from Radom, some of the flying machines had to use a nearby airbase in Dęblin (home of the Polish Air Force Academy, which is the main pilot training facility of the Polish Air Force)

Most of the Polish fighter force – the MiG-29 and Su-22 fighter aircraft – have been grounded, hence they did not participate in the flying portion of the show. This is quite significant – Su-22s have been in service with the Police Air Force for 35 years, and the MiG-29 has been the prime fighter of the service  for almost 3 decades. Neither were present in the static display.

The Polish AIr Force F-16.

When it comes to the Polish presence, the honor of the service had to be saved by the aerobatic teams: Team Orlik and Team Biało-Czerwone Iskry – both of them staged a usual breathtaking performance in the air, with the Orlik Team making a double appearance, one with a regular program, and the second one in formation with the Harvard trainer aircraft, commemorating their being used as a historic training platform by the Polish pilots in the old days.

Team Iskra.

The fast jet community of the Polish Air Force was underrepresented, solely by the F-16 Tiger Demo Team stationed at the Poznan-Krzesiny airbase. M-346 Master trainers, known under the name ‘Bielik’ in Poland (white-tailed eagle), which also are the latest acquisition of the service, also made an appearance at the event, performing a formation flypast. Finally, the Polish Aviation Museum from Cracow brought the only surviving example of the P.11C pre-war fighter aircraft to Radom. The vintage airframe has had its engine restored and, being a highlight of the Polish portion of the show, performed a taxi run in front of the audience.

P.11C (Image credit: Michał Wajnchold).

The special treats, in case of the Centenary-related portion of the show, also included a formation flypast involving a PLL LOT Polish Airlines 737 and the White-Red Sparks aerobatic team.

LOT B737 and the White-Red Sparks aerobatic team.

The civil participants included aerobatic teams such as Cellfast Flying Team, 3AT3/Fundacja Biało-Czerwone Skrzydła formation flying team or Żelazny aerobatic teams. The program also included displays made by autogyros or a night display of paraglider team featuring pyro elements, closed the display on Saturday. Artur Kielak, on the other hand, performed his always stunning solo display routine.

The list of foreign participants of the show was quite rich. However, despite the rumors, the F-22 Raptors, the participation of those was very much hoped for in Radom, did not attend the show. The organizers announced that the United States would be involved in the event. Apart from a C-130 Hercules in the static display, no signs of American presence could be noted in Radom. NATO sent its E-3A Sentry AWACS platform to Dęblin and this aircraft made a flypast over the Radom field during the show.

However, certain highlights still appeared in Radom, with the Pakistani JF-17 Thunder being one of the most important and rare points of the flying display. This jet, whose roots go back to the times of the MiG-21, uses a single RD-33 engine, which is evident when we look at its back. It is surely a rarity in the European skies, and it has been a nice addition to the flying program. The Pakistan Air Force has quite significant historic connections to the Polish Air Force who virtually established the Pakistani service following the WWII.

The quite rare for the European airshows JF-17 Thunder.

Foreign aerobatic teams that showcased their display in Radom included the Baltic Bees Jet Team, Croatian Wings of Storm, Finnish Midnight Hawks, Patrouille Suisse, Frecce Tricolori, and Royal Jordanian Falcons. Here one should refer to the Swiss team, as the soloist of this group has inspired a round of applause around the Skaryszewska street ( spotting location south of the airport) breaking the sound barrier slightly and causing a sonic boom, accidentally on Saturday. Frecce Tricolori’s show announcer, also made the audience love her – she actually was performing the whole commentary in Polish.

The Frecce Tricolori display team.

When it comes to the remaining soloists, the Radom show also included displays of F-16 demo teams, including Belgian, Greek and Turkish solo displays. Out of the three, the Belgian display flown by ‘Vador’ is undoubtedly the most spectacular one and, in the author’s opinion – the best one of the showcased.

Belgian F-16 solo display team.

Czech Air Force has presented a very interesting role demo display involving its Mi-171 and Mi-24 helicopters, demonstrating a CSAR operation. Poland’s southern neighbours also brought their Gripen solo display to Poland, with the jet wearing the Czech Air Force’s centenary livery.

Czech Mi-24 Hind.

The RAF sent its Typhoon demo display to Radom. Considering the upcoming Polish Harpia programme, Radom has been a perfect arena to showcase the products that could be potentially offered. Within the static display Lockheed had its stand deployed, with F-16 and F-35 mock-ups and an F-16 simulator. Typhoon and Gripen were both a part of the flying display. Additionally, Leonardo brought its M-346FA aircraft to Radom, which was showcased on the stand of the Italian company that is also responsible for marketing the Typhoon in Poland.

The RAF Typhoon during its display routine.

A separate paragraph needs to be devoted to the Ukrainian Air Force’s involvement in the show. First, the Ukrainians came with a rarity to Radom – the Su-25UB Frogfoot jet that was displayed in the static display. Secondly, they also brought the classic Su-27 Flanker to Poland, this time in a two-seater variant (Su-27UB). It has to be said that the Ukrainian display in Radom has been much better than the one we have witnessed in the UK during the Royal International Air Tattoo, and it seemed that the pilot handled the aircraft much better. During the rehearsals on Friday the Ukrainian crew even performed tailslides.

Ukrainian Air Force Su-27UB.

Ukrainian Su-25 Frogfoot.

When it comes to the vintage flying gear, Red Bull has brought its display to Radom, including Corsair, Mitchell, Trojan and Alpha Jets.

Red Bull formation.

When it comes to the weather mentioned above – we need to admit – it was not perfect. Low cloud cover and rain on the weekend made the Air Show less pleasant, also leading to cancellation of several displays on Sunday. We also attended the show on Thursday and Friday, during which all of the rehearsals took place, hence some ‘sunny shots’ in our report. This, however, is force majeure that lays beyond the organizer’s scope of influence.

Czech Gripen.

What could have been done to make the show more attractive?

Maybe the Polish Air Force could think of including more role demos in the display schedule. For instance, the Polish 25th Air Cavalry Brigade has a role demo prepared, which is quite spectacular for the audience. A question remains as to why it was not included in the Radom programme. Also, the presence of the Celebrant was quite limited – not only because of the grounding of the Fitters and Fulcrums (role demo and solo displays), but also due to the fact that most of the attention was paid to the foreign participants. Obviously, the organizers are limited by time and daylight, thus it is hard to assess whether any compromise could have been reached within that regard, for instance considering the number of the aerobatic teams involved in the show. Also, the Polish rotary-winged helicopters were not flying in Radom at all, which is also a pity – they were only showcased in the static display. Considering Radom was a centenary event for the Polish aviation per se, this may also be viewed as a certain omission. Another factor which was somewhat omitted was the Polish Air Force’s history and heritage. Apart from the P11.C taxing, no historic aircraft with direct and obvious connection to the service were presented (such as Spitfire, for instance, considering the Polish involvement in the Battle of Britain).

It also should be noted that the static display also featured numerous assets of the Polish land forces, including the latest artillery platforms (Rak self-propelled mortars and Krab self-propelled howitzers or air defence systems, such as radars).

Images: Jacek Siminski/The Aviationist

U.S. F-22 Raptors Deploy to Poland To Take Part in the Armed Forces Day Parade Over Warsaw

U.S. Air Force F-22 deployed to Poland.

Five jets USAF F-22s have arrived at Powidz Airbase, Poland, this week.

On Aug. 15, along with a C-130J that acted as a camera-ship, four stealth aircraft celebrated the 100th Anniversary of Polish Independence and Armed Forces Day by participating in a multi-aircraft flyover in Warsaw (most probably, the fifth F-22 was a spare aircraft). The jets made a forward hop to Powidz from Spangdahlem, where they have been deployed recently to participate in a number of exercises in the region.

The USAF F-22s are deployed to Europe for theater familiarization and to conduct interoperability training with NATO aircraft. (All images: Jacek Siminski).

According to unofficial information Raptors would also be engaged in some training sorties and possibly engagements, with the Polish F-16 jets.

The rumor suggesting that the American fighters would be involved in the Polish Air Force’s centenary in Radom next week has been denied by one of the officials involved in organization of the show we’ve been speaking to; however the Poles are still hoping that USAF Europe will make a contribution, in a form of 5th Gen. jets, at the event in Radom.

Close up view of one of the Raptors deployed to Poland.

We’re attending the Radom Air Show next week and we’re going to provide you with a relevant report. We also had our photo contributors at the Warsaw event, so we’re hoping to provide you with a report on the Polish Armed Forces Day too.

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.