Poland

Polskie Siły Powietrzne
Polish Air Force - PolAF


Introduction

Poland ordered a total of 48 F-16C/D block 52 aircraft, thus becoming the first former WarPac member to operate the F-16 Fighting Falcon.

Equiped with JHMCS and Sniper ER pods, and aremd with AIM-9X, AIM-120C, JSOW and JDAM, the Polish F-16s will be the most advanced in NATO.


The first advanced block 52 for the Polish Air Force is spotted on the assembly line. Its first testflights are planned for April of 2006. [Photo by Altairis f]

History

In 1997, the Polish government started looking looking for a replacement for its ageing fleet of MiG-21 and Su-22 aircraft. The requirement was for 100 multi-purpose fighters, to replace an exisitng fleet of 350 combat aircraft. Given Poland's aspirations to join NATO, Poland turned to Western rather than Soviet manufacturers. The Air Force was considering the Mirage 2000, Gripen and F-16 and enjoyed demonstrations from all three aircraft. The 1997 Salon du Bourget saw fierce battles being fought between the representatives of the competing companies over the orders. Most Eastern European potential customers -including Poland- had hoped that increased employment, technology transfers and compensation orders would pay for their new fighters. However, as this proved not to be the case, orders were postponed for a couple of years.

In November 1998, British Aerospace, together with Sweden's Saab and Germany's Daimler-Benz Aerospace, offered to modernize Poland's existing fleet of Soviet-designed MiG-29 aircraft and to train its personnel. This way, the consurtium ultimately hoped to secure the deal for the new fighters for its Gripen fighter. Other Western manufacturers also regard winning the transitional deal as the key to eventually securing the lucrative contract to supply new combat planes.

In December 1998, Poland's Defense Ministry asked the cabinet to approve the lease of up to 36 fighter aircraft from the United States. The United States offered to lease second-hand F-16 or F-18 fighter jets to Poland for five years at a cost of around $100 million, including training for pilots and ground crews. In February 1999, The Polish government announced it was to decide how to acquire Western fighter jets for its ill-equipped air force in the next few months, and it was going to choose a supplier by the end of the year.


PolAF F-16C block 52 #4040 is flying over Texas during its first flight on March 14th, 2006. [LMTAS photo]

Inventory

Peace Sky

Eventually the Polish government decided on December 27th, 2002 to buy rather than lease new fighter aircraft, and that the winner of the Polish fighter tender was Lockheed-Martin. Up to 48 F-16 Block 52 aircraft will be delivered (36 C's and 12 D's). The major element in this deal was an offset agreement between Lockheed-Martin and the Polish government, which sees an amount of up to $9 billion return in the Polish economy. Major projects include plans by General Motors to expand a plant in Gliwice, Poland, and a pledge by Motorola to invest in a state-of-the-art communication system for Polish public services.

The contract was signed on April 18th, 2003, for $3.5 billion, the biggest defense contract by a former Soviet bloc country since the end of the Cold War. The purchase contract also includes spare engines, missiles and bombs as well as technical details and the terms of training for Polish pilots. The aircraft will be built in Fort Worth, Texas, and deliveries started in 2006.

The maiden flight of the first Polish F-16 aircraft ( #4040 ) was completed successfully in Ft. Worth on March 14th, 2006. The pilot for the first flight was Paul Hattendorf, a company test pilot for Lockheed Martin.


PolAF F-16C block 52 #4040 is flying over Texas during its first flight on March 14th, 2006. [LMTAS photo]
POLAF Inventory
Program Model Block Qty. Serials Delivered
Peace Sky F-16C Block 52 36 4040/4075 2006-2009
F-16D Block 52 12 4076/4087 2006-2009

Modifications & Armament

Engines & Avionics

The new Polish F-16 Block 52 aircraft will be powered by the Pratt and Whitney F-100-229 engine. The aircraft will be fitted with the latest avionics available, including the APG-68(V)9 radar which provides high-resolution ground imaging, enabling day/night all-weather, precision weapons delivery and the ALQ-211(V)4 electronic warfare suite which will ensure that the aircraft possesses an unequalled countermeasures system.

Additionally, the multi-role fighter developed for Poland is equipped with a helmet-mounted cueing system used for directing precision guided munitions and off-boresight missiles as well as for increasing pilot situational awareness. The aircraft is designed to be fully interoperable with NATO and European Union missions.

Armament

Furthermore the deal also includes a major weapons package, including the AIM-9X Sidewinder and the AIM-120C AMRAAM missile, as well as GPS-guided Joint Stand-Off Weapon (JSOW-C) and Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) bombs for use in day/night and adverse weather conditions. The aircraft are fully compatible with the latest high-tech targeting and navigation sensors and reconnaissance platforms.

Sniper Extended Range pod

The Polish F-16s will be equiped with the Sniper Extended Range pod, which is an advanced targeting pod designed with an infrared pointer, laser, day TV, forward looking infrared, laser spot tracker and advanced algorithms. The pod delivers superior tracking performance and reliability.

Goodrich DB-110 airborne reconnaissance system

Poland's Ministry of National Defense has selected Goodrich Corporation's DB-110 airborne reconnaissance system for use on F-16 fighters.

The DB-110 digital, real-time, tactical reconnaissance system allows pilots to capture images day or night using electro-optical sensor technology.The camera is enclosed in a 19ft (6m) pod mounted on the underside of an aircraft. Images are fed in real time into a ground station. The camera itself can be easily directed via receiver units situated within the pod to focus in on a particular area.

Imagery is viewed on the F-16's cockpit video display, enabling the navigator to verify targets and conduct tasks such as battle damage assessment. The Polish F-16s will be the first Fighting Falcons to be outfitted with this technology.

Operational Service

Units

Please refer to the F-16 Units section for an overview of units.


Errors and Omissions



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