Polish Air Force’s F-16 Jets To Protect The Baltic Airspace, Starting from May

Image Credit: IDF
Image Credit: IDF

Polish F-16 Jastrząb fighter aircraft, during the upcoming Baltic Air Policing Block, also known as the “Orlik 7” deployment, will replace the Polish MiG-29 jets, that were being utilized within that scope so far. The information above has been confirmed by Division General, Pilot, Jan Śliwka, Deputy General Commander of the Polish Armed Forces, during a meeting of the Parliamentary National Defence Committee. 

The next rotation of the Baltic Air Policing (“Orlik 7” block) is going to involve the Polish F-16 jets, stationed at one of the airbases where, so far, we have been deploying the MiG-29s. This year we are expanding the field of operational use of the F-16 jets, and the Baltic Air Policing operation, since the aircraft in question has much wider operational capabilities at its disposal, also within the scope of data transfer capabilities and spatial awareness. For the purpose of completing those tasks, the above capacity is required, and these are the requirements of the allied operations.

Division General, Pilot Jan Śliwka, Deputy General Commander of the Polish Armed Forces

Four Polish F-16 jets hailing from the Krzesiny airbase will be deployed to Lithuania at the end of April. The mission is going to be preceded by the “Orlik-17” exercise, the goal of which is to verify the personnel’s readiness to carry out the Baltic Air Policing operation. The Polish rotation begins as of 1st May, and ends on 31st August. This is going to be the seventh rotation involving the Polish assets, however, as we were informed by General Jan Śliwka, another one is planned to take place in 2018 or 2019. The first of the Polish rotations, within the framework of the Baltic Air Policing mission, took place back in 2006.

However, participation of the F-16 Jastrząb jets is not a debut for those fighters, when it comes to allied operations. Last year, four F-16s have been sent to Kuwait, to support the Inherent Resolve operation against ISIS, through provision of reconnaissance capabilities over Iraq. According to the Polish Press Agency, back in December 2016, Minister Macierewicz stated that the Polish pilots stationed in Kuwait have made a request to expand the operational scope of the deployment with combat sorties. Since many years, the Polish F-16 aircraft have been frequently involved in a variety of international exercises outside the territory of Poland.