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Poland has successful first flight

March 15, 2006 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The maiden flight of the first Polish F-16 aircraft has been successfully completed. The flight took place in Ft. Worth, Texas and marks a key milestone in the success of the Peace Sky program. Poland will take delivery of the first of 48 F-16s in November.

Polish F-16C block 52 #4040 landing at NAS Fort Worth on March 14th, 2006 concluding its first flight.

The F-16 flown yesterday (#4040) is part of a 48-aircraft order by the Government of Poland and is planned for delivery to the Polish Air Force later this year.

The pilot for the first flight was Paul Hattendorf, a company test pilot for Lockheed Martin. He performed numerous system checks, including engine throttle transients at various altitudes and radar checks using a photo chase F-16 as a simulated target. Hattendorf also took the aircraft to supersonic speeds and performed high-g maneuvers during the flight, which lasted just over an hour. After several additional check flights by both company and U.S. Air Force test pilots, this first Polish F-16 is scheduled to be ferried to Edwards AFB, Calif., in April for more system-specific testing.

"The Poland Peace Sky program continues to progress right on schedule," said Irma Sippel, director of the Poland F-16 program. "First flight is a significant milestone and the first of several leading to the planned arrival of the aircraft in Poland later this year. We continue to be excited about our progress and about meeting our customer's expectations."

When delivered, Polish F-16s will be the most advanced in NATO. Features of the block 52+ include an AN/APG-68(V) 9 radar fire control system and a 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.

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.

Poland will take delivery of the first of 48 F-16 fighter jets in November. A total of eight F-16s are due to be delivered to Poland before the end of the year.

Additional images:

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

PolAF F-16C block 52 #4040 is ready on the runway for its first take off. [Photo by Keith Robinson]

Tail detail of PolAF F-16C block 52 #4040 before its first flight on March 14th, 2006. [LMTAS photo]