Tag Archives: Polish Armed Forces

Polish Air Force Rotates its F-16 Jets in Kuwait but it’s not switching to an offensive role against ISIS

Don’t worry, the Polish are not bombing Daesh.

Few months ago the Polish Air Force deployed some F-16 Block 52+ fighters with the 10th Fighter Squadron from the 32 Air Base in Łask to Kuwait, in order to take part in the air war against Islamic State performing reconnaissance operations with the use of the DB110 recon pod.

Noteworthy, the most recent photos from Kuwait published by the Polish General Command of the Armed Forces, depicting jets belonging to the 6th Fighter Squadron based in Krzesiny, near Poznan, fueled speculations that the F-16s might have changed their role in the air war against Daesh into a more offensive one.

In fact, the recce role in the Polish F-16 operational structure is assigned to the 10th FS from Łask, while Krzesiny’s jets are responsible for training and air-to-ground roles.

However, the Polish Ministry of Defense denied the speculations emerging in the mainstream media stating that the mission character has not changed and the Polish F-16s will continue to be limited to reconnaissance missions in Syria and Iraq, carrying drop-tanks and DB110 recon pods only.

Although the denial did not provide any detail about the reasons for swapping the units, such rotations are far from being unusual: air arms regularly rotate airframes deployed abroad to meet maintenance deadlines. Pilots (and supporting personnel) are also rotated so as to give more aircrews the opportunity to gain some experience in combat environment.

For this reason, some air forces deploy to theater their Expeditionary Task Forces that gather aircraft and personnel from several different units. That said, considering the official release, the speculations seem to be unconfirmed. At least until some photos showing the Polish Vipers with bombs under the wings emerge – but that would be another story.

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Top image Credit: Polish General Command of the Armed Forces/Twitter. Image below: Filip Modrzejewski / Foto Poork

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Radom Airshow provides an insight into some Polish Armed Forces procurement programs

An awesome airshow.

Along with an impressive line-up, what made Radom Airshow 2015 interesting was the fact that it provided an overview of some of the weapons systems involved, in one way or another one, in several Polish Armed Forces procurement programs.

Among the aircraft that took part in the largest airshow organized in Poland this year there was the T129 ATAK helicopter, offered by TAI within the scope of the Polish “Kruk” attack helicopter tender, that performed an interesting dynamic display.

Secondly, the ATK company presented its AGM-88E AARGM (Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile) which is offered as a complementary element of ordnance for the Polish F-16 fleet.

Then, Alenia Aermacchi company showcased a scale model of M-346 Master armed with the Brimstone missiles. Poland has already procured eight M-346 jets for the Air Force Academy but along with the advanced jet training role the “Master” could also partly replace the old (but recently upgraded) Polish Su-22 fighter bombers thanks to the advertised ground attack capabilities.

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The main portion of the show belonged to the aerobatic teams. Radom flightline included the Polish Orlik and Iskry teams, as well as the famous Frecce Tricolori, along with Patrulla Águila and Patrulla Aspa from Spain, Swiss Patrouille de Suisse team, Baby Blue team from Denmark or the Baltic Bees team from Latvia.

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Fighter jets also performed spectacular displays.

Both the Italian Eurofighter Typhoon, the Polish and Slovak MiG-29 and Belgian or Greek F-16 fighters, and the French Rafale took part in the air display with stunning maneuvers.

However, one of the most spectacular displays was performed by the Romanian MiG-21 LanceR, as this fighter is at least two decades older than the fourth generation jets. The MiG-21 display exhibited the raw power of the Cold War jet, with a lot of afterburner coming into play.

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Two displays that are worth mentioning here were performed by the role demo teams – the Polish Su-22 aerobatic team which presented the capabilities of the old jet – including spectacular passes with varied geometry of the wings (which is quite difficult, considering the small speed overlap in case of the extreme wing positions). Second display was performed by a CAS-role demo team with the Polish F-16 jets performing a CAS (Close Air Support) demonstration, together with the Fitters.

Unfortunately, the F-16 solo display did not take place during the Radom show, even though the demo team is involved in intensive training activities over the Krzesiny airbase. The display is rumored to have a premiere planned for the Krzesiny Air Base annual air show, scheduled on Sep. 5.

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The static display also featured numerous interesting airframes, as the above-mentioned MiG-21, two examples of C-27J Spartan transports, Israeli C-130 Hercules (open to the public) and the German P3 Orion.

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The Polish Air Force showcased all of its inventory as well, including the Mi-8 and Mi-14PŁ helicopters and F-16, Su-22 and MiG-29 fighters. Even Kaman Seasprite helicopter of the Polish Navy was presented in a static display, unfortunately without the special color scheme painted on the fuselage.

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Overall the air show in Radom was very interesting. The only thing lacking were the jets from beyond the Eastern border of Poland, such as the Ukrainian or Belarusian Su-27 Flankers or Su-24 Fencers.

However, in the current geopolitical situation, it is hard to expect that the Ukrainians would attend any air show east of Hungary. The Belarus’s Flanker fleet is in a really bad shape, on the other hand – according to some of the last year’s reports.

All photos: Jacek Siminski

 

 

Poland wants new Attack Helicopters to replace Mi-24 Hind gunships. Soon.

Poland has changed its priorities regarding acquisition of the helicopters. The general-purpose combat helicopter was to be the first purchase of the Polish Armed Forces, but now the weight has been shifted towards the assault choppers.

The original modernization plan for the Polish Armed Forces saw the Mi-24 Hind helicopters replaced not before 2020-22.

However, the ageing Hind gunships could make room to a new chopper as early as 2017, whereas the tender for the utility helicopter has been postponed.

There may be several reasons behind the decision to review the plans, including the Ukrainian crisis and the need to face Russian Mi-28 Havocs, several of those have been deployed to Kaliningrad Oblast, quite close to the Polish northern border.

According to Gazeta Wyborcza, one of the leading Polish dailies, the military officials claim that Mi-24 Hinds no longer have a high combat value. The trends in development of the assault helicopters are quite different from the concept that was driving the development progress of Mi-24 which could be treated as a beefed-up version of Huey with its 8-person transport capacity in the cabin placed within the fuselage. Contemporary assault gunships are more of CAS-tools, with much less transport-related capabilities.

Gazeta Wyborcza daily is quoting the Polish strategists who point out that in case of the Ukrainian crisis, the Ukrainian Army was unable to deploy units quick enough to face the Russian invasion.

Quick deployment is one of the key elements of the defensive operations, and this cannot be realized without CAS (Close Air Support) from the helicopters or assault aircraft. Since acquisition of the A-10 is quite unrealistic, assault choppers may be an appropriate solution.

The value of the attack helicopter bid is estimated to be 1 billion Euro, worth one of the biggest chopper procurement deal issued by a NATO member state.

Possible choices? AW-129 Mangusta and AH-64 Apache.

They are not to be produced in Poland, contrary to what is going to happen in case of the Polish utility helicopter tender.

The AH-64 is quite an expensive whereas the AW-129 is significantly cheaper. However, it will be the situation in eastern Europe and the diplomatic relations between U.S., Italy and Poland rather than the performance, payload and capabilities of the helicopters, to play a major role in the tender.

Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist

Image Credit: Wikimedia

 

Don’t worry, the Poles have recovered their drone lost during artillery drills

The Polish soldiers have recovered the lost drone.

The Flyeye mini-UAV(unmanned aerial vehicle) lost on May 7, near Torun, was eventually found about 25 km southwest of the artillery range where it was operating, in quite good condition.

Even though the drone manufacturer WB Electronics had stopped the recovery operation, the soldiers still had an area to go through today. Exactly where they found it on May 10 at around 15.00 LT.

The cause for the incident is clear, according to one of the officers working at the General Commands of the Armed Forces, Lt. Col Artur Goławski: it was a technical problem that made the drone unresponsive to the operator’s inputs.

The detailed report is to be prepared later, but it has already emerged that the instruction manual of the drone is to be modified with measures that would help avoiding similar events in the future.

WB Electronics stopped the search operation due to the financial reasons – the costs were higher than the Flyeye’s price tag (25,000 Euro). It was stressed by the manufacturer, that the drone contained no sensitive information.

Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist

Image Credit: WB Electronics

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