Air Force

Polish MiG-29 Jets on the Southern Flank. Training Preceding the Air Policing Operation

General Commander of the Armed Forces, General Mirosław Różanski, approved the concept of the Jastrząb-16 exercise, which is designed to verify the level of readiness of the Polish detachment, pertaining to the task of provision of air policing in the area of the NATO Southern Flank. Here we mean the territory of Bulgaria, above all.

According to the release issued by the Polish General Command of the Armed Forces, Poland, since many years, has been involved in the air policing operations carried out within the NATO’s area of responsibility. The Polish pilots, within the scope of the above initiative, have been involved in air policing operations carried out in the East, as a part of the Baltic Air Policing operation concerning the territories of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. The jets were, in that case, stationed at the Lithuanian Siauliai airbase. However, this time the mission would cover the Southern NATO flank, mainly the territories of Bulgaria and Romania. The operation is expected to involve the MiG-29 Fulcrum fighters, most probably in the MiG-29M variant. The whole air policing initiative is going to begin in the autumn, and it is expected to be carried out under the name of Orlik B.

The nature of the exercise assumes that a series of practical scenarios is going to be conducted, resulting from the Air Policing mission tasks.

Chief of Staff of the 1st Tactical Aviation Wing, Jerzy Grominski

Chief of Staff also added that level of security of the operations, reporting system, command and control system and data exchange methods is also going to be verified. Moreover, further checking is going to refer to other initiatives undertaken by the personnel of the detachment.

The Air Policing operation is focused on provision of airspace protection support for the countries which have no fighter assets at their disposal or, as it happens in case of Bulgaria and Romania, which have asked NATO to provide additional support due to the limited capacity that remains at hand of their own air forces. Both Bulgaria, as well as Romania, have undertaken steps, the aim of which is to reinforce their own air forces.

The Romanians have decided to acquire two lots of second-hand F-16 fighters, in order to replace the MiG-21 LanceR platform, while the Bulgarians are combining overhauls of the MiG-29 jets, simultaneously taking steps, the aim of which would be to procure additional airframes. Due to the cost, the Bulgarian acquisition is also going to concern used jets, nonetheless the type, quantity and procurement conditions are still undefined. Back in 2015, Bulgaria and Poland have signed an agreement pertaining to provision of technical and logistical support for the jets above at the Polish facilities, including the Wojskowe Zakłady Lotnicze Nr. 2 [Military Aviation Works No. 2] and Wojskowe Zaklady Lotnicze Nr 4 [Military Aviation Works No. 4]. The initial works within that scope are being carried out at the Military Aviation Works No. 4, while the Military Aviation Works No. 2 facility is still in process of negotiating a relevant agreement.

The command is going to verify the readiness of the Polish Orlik B detachment, within the scope of performing the tasks related to air policing in the NATO’s Southern Area of Responsibility during the Jastrząb-16 exercise, also involving the 1st Tactical Aviation Wing.  It is a national tactical exercise, which is to take place during the last week of August this year.