Tag Archives: Polish Air Force

All the pros and cons of Poznan Aerofestival 2016 airshow in Poland

Last weekend we have attended the second edition of the Poznan Aerofestival air show. And here’s a report.

After the last year’s moderate fiasco, with numerous organizational problems, many people were highly skeptical that the Aeropact company, collaborating with Poznan International Fair, would be able to tackle the challenge of organizing an international air show at a normally operating airport.


The ticket prices were lowered, in comparison with the last year’s event and this, supposedly, was to attract the disappointed audience, which had lost its trust in the Poznan show.

The organizers planned to squeeze the dynamic show in 720 minutes: the Polish Air Navigation Services Agency, long before the show, issued several arrangements, according to which three blocks of flying were to be expected, with landings of the airliners between the display time slots.


The flight display was quite impressive, with the F-16 fighter jets dominating it.

Notably, the F-16 Falcon jet of the Polish Air Force attended the static display: this is an interesting highlight, since for the first time in 10 years of operational use of the jet, the fighter made a full-stop landing at Poznan-Ławica International Airport, arriving for the show.


The Viper’s maneuverability was widely demonstrated by several solo display team, including the Polish Tiger Demo Team, Belgian Air Component Solo Display and Soloturk, that operated from the Krzesiny Air Base, due to the maintenance requirements of the airframes.

Most probably, the logistical side of the air show was also easier to handle, having a fully operational F-16 base at hand.


When it comes to the Falcon demos, they were entirely different. The Turkish one seemed to be the most dynamic, since it had quite a flat profile, throughout most of its length. It also featured many flares. The Polish Tiger team, on the other hand, has shown more of the F-16’s power and spatial capabilities.

Additionally, looking at the Polish Air Force’s participation in the dynamic part of the show, one of the highlights was the Su-22 Role Demo Team, with the Fitters wearing the new, gray camouflage scheme.

Obviously, the Su-22’s display was not nearly as spectacular, especially when compared to the Falcon.

The Polish Air Force has also sent F-16, CASA C-295M, W3-R Sokół and M-28 Bryza aircraft, all of which formed the modest static display at the Aerofestival Air Show, together with Viggen and Saab 105 of the Swedish Air Force Historic Flight team (both of which also flew dynamic displays).

A few sentences should be written about the Viggen too. The jet gave a spectacular demonstration of its capabilities exhibiting its capacity to astonish; even though it is a historic aircraft, the raw power and noise made by the Volvo RM8 engine constitute a great highlight, that needs to be witnessed for appreciation.



Also from Scandinavia, the Grumman Ag-Cat Bi-Plane of the Scandinavian Airshow team performed a poetic and romantic display made even more interesting by the smoke coming out from the airplane, in red and white colors, corresponding with the Polish national colors. The smoke gave an impressionist appearance to the spectacular show formed by the great piloting skills exhibited by Jacob Hollander.

Another highlight of the show was the TS-11 Iskra display, with the Iskra coming from the Polish Air Force Academy. This aircraft, usually flown in a formation demonstration by the White-Red Sparks aerobatic team of the Polish Air Force, performed a solo display, handled by Sławomir Hetman.

The Polish Air Force also sent its Orlik Team to Poznan that was also stationed at the Krzesiny airbase.


The show also featured historic aircraft, including Yak-3 or Texan Trainer, both of which constituted an interesting added value, that contributed to the variety of the show.

When it comes to the aerobatic teams, the Aerofestival featured several smaller teams flying propeller driven aircraft, such as 3 AT-3 or The Victors, as well as the Baltic Bees Jet Team, showing some new formations and new flying programme which was premiered at Ławica.

Notably, the Żelazny Aerobatic Team, formed by Extra 330LC and Zlin aerobatic airframes, along with Fox sailplane, also took part in the dynamic display over Poznan.

When it comes to the show schedule, the only highly anticipated highlight that missed the event was the MiG-15, which could not attend the Aerofestival, due to the technical problems.

The organizers have solved most of the issues that occurred during the first edition of the show and added numerous highlights, including the fighter jets demonstration teams. The show announcer was also well prepared and provided substantial information to the spectators, without making any errors.

The only deficiency this year is the fact that the static display was quite modest.

Moreover, the air show was blessed with good weather.

If the tendency we have witnessed at Poznan is maintained, the organization continues to improve and the flying program becomes more attractive year by year, Aerofestival may become an important point on the European air show map.


Image Credit: Jacek Siminski
Orlik Team Image Credit: Agata Olech-Świadek (spfl.pl)

Here’s the schedule of the Polish Air Force domestic training exercises this year

2016 Domestic Training Schedule For The Polish Air Force

As the Polska Zbrojna outlet reports, a few days ago, General Mirosław Różański has presented the domestic training exercises schedule of the Polish Air Force.

The plan covers year 2016, preceding the major Anakonda-16 exercise.

The operations have a joint character and they will, besides the air force, involve land forces, Polish Navy and the special operations component of the Polish Army.

The main goal of the events  is to prepare the Polish Air Force units for the Anakonda-16 exercise which is going to be the largest, international training initiative organized within the territory of Poland this year – involving almost 30 thousand soldiers in total.

“Raróg” series exercise, organized by the 2nd Tactical Aviation Wing from Krzesiny, planned between Apr. 25 and Apr. 29 is the first out of the planned operations.

The goal of this event, as Polska Zbrojna reports, quoting Col. Piotr Próchniak of the 2nd Wing, is to verify the level of logistical and command and combat components readiness of the soldiers and equipment which is expected to be involved in the operations carried out by the NATO Response Force.

The exercise is to involve 450 soldiers, hailing many from the Polish Łask and Krzesiny bases. The assumption is that the aviators, within the scenario, operate over a foreign land, on a 24 hours/day basis.

The pilots will fly intercept, air-to-air combat, ground attack and close air support sorties. F-16 jets are going to play the role of own forces, acting against the enemy simulated by MiG-29, Su-22 and Casa C-295M aircraft.

1st Tactical Aviation Wing, as Polska Zbrojna claims, is getting ready for a large “Kondor-16” operation which is going to be realized both at the base of the unit, as well as within the Ustka and Nadarzyce ranges.

Besides the elements of the 1st Wing, Polish 21st and 22nd Airbases, 12th Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Base (Mirosławiec), Special Forces JTAC component, 6th Airborne Brigade Reconnaissance Platoon and chemical elements are also going to be involved in the exercise.

Several MiG-29 and Su-22 fighters are going to stay in the air simultaneously during the operation, realizing bombing runs and rocket attacks against ground targets.

The chemical units will also be trained within the scope of decontamination of the aircraft, realized in case of a potential chemical warfare attack. It is also assumed that ground airbase defensive operation is  going to be a part of the exercise too.

Moreover, 4th Training Aviation Wing of the Polish Air Force is going to carry out the Halny-16 operation, a command staff exercise. The main aim of the operation is to prepare the participants to plan reconnaissance sorties and quick deployment of the air assets, in a way which would allow the combat aviation units to use the Dęblin airbase, usually dedicated to training purposes.

All of the above events may be interpreted as a prelude to the Anakonda-16, one of the NATO initiatives undertaken in the light of the Ukrainian crisis, the aim of which is to reinforce the alliance’s eastern flank.

The said exercise is going to involve more than 25,000 soldiers: 12,000 troops will be provided by Poland and 10,000 troops will be deployed from the USA. The remaining troops are going to come from other NATO member states and partner nations, as Głos Wielkopolski, quoting Lt. Col. Szczepan Głuszczak, spokesperson for the Polish General Command of the Armed Forces, reports.

According to Głos Wielkopolski, the operation planned to take place between Jun. 7 and 17 is going to involve, among other units, the Krzesiny and Powidz airbases, the involvement of which is going to be visible to a large extent.

The aviation assets will be used to conduct airborne operations and reception of the allied forces.

Anakonda-16 scenario is going to assume a hybrid conflict takes place. Civilian crisis management centers and reserve component of the Polish Army are also going to make their contributions to the undertaken operational activities.

The Air Force is probably also going to take part in some operations abroad, such as the NATO Tiger Meet or Frisian Flag exercises, usually attended by the Polish aviation assets. The above outline refers solely to the domestic operational activities with focus placed on the Air Force operations.

Image Credit: Jacek Siminski

Poland to deploy F-16 combat planes to Syria in reconnaissance role

Recce role for the Polish F-16 Fighters in the fight against ISIS in Syria.

According to the Polish President and the Polish Minister of Defense, Poland is going deploy a “small number of F-16 fighters” to Syria, in order to “support the observation missions in the region,” local media outlets confirmed on Feb. 15.

Antoni Macierewicz, Polish Defense Minister had already made a statement suggesting that Poland could get involved in the operations against ISIS last Wednesday but President Duda said that “some statements may have been misinterpreted,” since no similar plans have been made and potential Syrian deployment still remains an open issue to be discussed with the NATO allies.

Anyway, some details must have been sorted out and the Polish Vipers may soon operate in the Middle East in a “reconnaissance” (or armed overwatch) role. It’s still unclear where the aircraft will be based.

When it comes to the reconnaissance equipment used by the Polish Fighting Falcons, the F-16 jets of the Polish Air Force use the Goodrich DB110 recce pod, allowing the carrier platform to carry out the reconnaissance task using a stand-off method, staying away from the airspace that could be potentially infested with the enemy SAMs. At least from some of the medium and short-range anti-aircraft fire.

Some rumors suggest that the jets have been using the DB110 operationally already, flying close to the Kaliningrad exclave border, at a request of the Polish Military Intelligence Agency. Anyway, if the DB110 system is going to be employed then Łask AB F-16s are scheduled to make their trip to the Middle East, since Łask is the only base that has these pods in its inventory.

The deployment of the Polish jets to Syrian region may answer a lot of questions pertaining their combat readiness.

The Polish F-16s are capable of using the AIDEWS (Advanced Integrated Defensive Electronic Warfare Suite) for EW and self-defense. The Exelis company, who manufactures the system, approved it for being operated by the foreign users. In case of the Polish F-16 jets, the suite is embedded within the airframe, so there is no need to use additional pods. Polish Falcon uses the AN/ALQ-211(V)4 version of the system, embedded in a part of the jet placed on its “spine.” The suite features a digital Radar Warning Receiver and allows the pilot to implement high and low band jamming, enhanced in air-to-air sorties.

According to Dziennik Zbrojny, one of the leading Polish defense outlets, quoting an interview with the Polish Deputy Minister of Defence Bartosz Kownacki published at the end of December in Wprost weekly, the Ministry doubts whether the F-16 jets will maintain the combat ready status. The doubts are tied directly to the AIDEWS system.

Kownacki stated that “It does not matter that we are in possession of fighters, as they may be quickly neutralized since they do not have self-defense suites.” Similar doubts were expressed by us in an analogous context, when we questioned the combat readiness of the Polish F-16’s last year.

However, since the Polish F-16s have started using the AIDEWS suite, the concerns seem to be mostly unfounded.

As noted above, the Exelis company authorized the AIDEWS suite to be used by foreign customers, however there was a significant delay in the procurement process, since the system was supposedly acquired in May 2013.

The pilots avoided the question, stating that the EW system never takes its final shape and it is being continuously developed, forcing the aircraft to operate with a less capable release of the suite (that is more advanced than the system used by other NATO users of the Fighting Falcon, according to some reports) until its final version (software-wise) is implemented.

Thus, the combat capability of the Polish F-16s is primarily a matter of upgrading the current software.

There are also some rumors suggesting that Poland has no air-to-ground ordnance for the F-16 jets at its disposal and speculations have been fueled by the fact that jets have never been presented with the combat armament at airshows (only inert Paveway bombs were presented publicly during the open days at the airbases even though, during the Red Flag exercise, the Polish F-16s dropped JDAMs over the Alaskan firing ranges).

At the end of October 2015, the Polish Air Force F-16s took part in Blue Flag Exercise at Ovda airbase, near Eilat, in southern Israel, along with combat planes from U.S., Greece and Israel.

Image credit: IAF


Polish Air Force about to receive the first new M-346 advanced jet trainers

Poland expands the Deblin training aviation base. The Initial M-346 Master Advanced Jet Trainers are in production.

According to the media buzz around the Polish defense-related outlets, Poland is going to receive the initial two examples of the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master AJT (Advanced Jet Trainer) quite soon. As Szczepan Głuszczak, Spokesman for the General Command of the Polish Armed Forces, stated, the first two aircraft wearing the Polish roundels are already in production.

This means that a revolution is taking place at the Polish aviation training facilities, since finally Poland is going to be capable of training the pilots for flying the fifth generation fighter aircraft, the acquisition of which is planned by the Polish Air Force in the upcoming years (probably until 2020).

The “Master,” the Italian cousin of the Russian Yak-130 trainer (both designs share a large portion of the genotype), is going to become the backbone of the training programs pursued by the Polish Air Force, replacing the obsolete Iskra trainers.

Nonetheless, it must be noted that not only are the Poles willing to modernize their pilots training, but they are also intending to create a fifth generation fighter training facility at the Dęblin Airbase: Alenia Aermacchi representatives stated that the Polish base, along with the Italian Lecce-Galatina air base, both operating the Master, may start offering services within the scope of training for the fifth generation fighter pilots for third parties that may not be able to afford establishing a full-scale training system in the first place.

Meanwhile, according to IHS Jane’s, Poland is willing to proceed with the initiative created by the Air Force Institute of Technology (Instytut Techniczny Wojsk Lotniczych, ITWL) – the “Grot 2” aircraft.

During the conference, related to the helicopter programs in the Polish Army, Colonel Ryszard Szczepanik working as the director of the institute stated that Grot-2 initiative is to be continued with the Motor-Sich company from Ukraine, providing the track-proven engine. Initially, the jet was to be equipped with the Honeywell/ITEC F124-GA-100 powerplant, as Jane’s states. Motor-Sich’s Director, as Jane’s reports, stated that Grot-2 jet could use “the AI-222-28F design” powerplant developed at the Ivchenko/Progress design bureau, destined to be applied in the Chinese Hongdu Aviation L-15 jet trainer.

However, even though the Grot’s airframe is similar to that of Master’s, Poland considers this design to become the successor of the Su-22 Fitter attack aircraft. Nonetheless, this role is being already taken by a UAV-dedicated airbase, and partially divided between the F-16 fighters and the M-346 acquisition.

Common sense would also make us point to lack of budget, needs, and finally, the export prospects, meaning that the Grot-2 project is probably not going to happen. Secondly, most of the Polish indigenous jet designs have been unsuccessful, mainly due to the lack of a proper know-how and potential which should be possessed by the Polish industry.

Moreover, one should take it into account that IHS Jane’s bases its report on information provided by the Polish NCSS think-tank, however, it must be noted that this organization is tied to “Law and Justice” party, which has just won the election in Poland, and which is driven towards consolidation and reinforcement of the Polish armament industry. Hence, the rumours pertaining the Grot-2 programme may be just another issue, fueling the political discussion in Poland.

Image Credit: Jacek Siminski


Stunning Air-to-Air photographs of the Latvian Baltic Bees Aerobatic Display Team

The Baltic Bees Jet Team is an aerobatic team which took part in several events in Poland this year. Here are some amazing air-to-air shots of the team, taken in connection with the Poznan Aerofestival.

The Latvian Baltic Bees team flies six L-39 Albatros jets, capable of reaching speeds close to 900 kilometers per hour, with 22 meters per second climb rate.

The aircraft used by the team are painted in a characteristic blue-yellow-striped color scheme, with a silhouette of a bee, painted under the fuselage. What is interesting, the team offer aerobatic flights for “civilians”: they provide a chance to fly a quasi combat aircraft (with the instructor pilot) to people who have always dreamed of flying a fighter jet.


The Baltic Bees provides these services as one of a few companies in Europe.

Filip Modrzejewski, editor-in-chief of the Foto Poork website, accompanied the Latvian pilots last year, during their transfer from Jurmala (close to Riga) to Poznan. The team flew to Poland in order to take part in the Aerofestival air show, taking place at the Ławica airport in Poznan.


The whole cruise, in a “Diamond Trail” formation, took place at FL250. Filip was tasked with taking photos of the team, flying in the jet No. 5, piloted by Valery Sobolev, as this was the best position for him to take good shots – all aircraft were visible during the climb, or during a low-pass. In case of air-to-air photo-shoots, good communication is the key – thanks to that it is possible to achieve good photographic position.


Notably, next year’s edition of Aerofestival has been already scheduled on May 28 and 29, 2016. At the moment, the details related to the planned highlights remain unknown. We will – most certainly – attend the event and provide you with a report.


The photos in this post include some shots shot on the ground.



All Images – Credit: Filip Modrzejewski / Foto Poork.