A Polish Air Force MiG-29A Fulcrum of 23. BLT at extremely low level (Image © Marcel Burger)

Polish Fulcrums start Baltic ops with fresh blood

The Polish Air Force starts this year’s deployment of its Fulcrums for the Baltic Air Policing mission at Šiauliai in Lithuania with fresh blood. Aviation plant Wojskowe Zaklady Lotnicze No. 2 and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) together recently finished upgrading major part of the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29 fleet in Bydgoszcz.

The final of 13 MiG-29A single-seaters and three MiG-29UBs two-seaters was returned to active duty at the end of November. The modernisation program’s biggest eye-catcher is a new multi-function display, while other improvements includes GPS navigation, new radios, a new mission computer and a digital video recorder. The aircraft themselves already were refurbished earlier to last another 4,000 flight hours each.

All sixteen upgraded Fulcrums serve with 1 Tactical Air Squadron (1 ELT) at 23 Tactial Air Base (23 Bazy Lotnictwa Taktycznego) of Minsk Mazowiecki. Although not officially confirmed yet, some Polish sources say that four of these new Fulcrums will serve this year’s first NATO QRA in Lithuania. The Siły Powietrzne jets will operate together with four Italian Eurofighter EF2000s that arrived just before the end of 2014. The first renewed MiG-29A returned to service in August 2013, the first MiG-29UB in June 2014.

Poland has a second squadron of MiG-29s as well. 41. ELT has about 13 MiG-29As and former East German MiG-29Gs plus 3 MiG-29GT two-seaters at 22 Tactical Air Base (22. BLT) of Malbork, which serves as NATO’s third Baltic Air Policing base after Šiauliai in Lithuania and Ämari in Estonia. Currently four Belgian Air Component F-16s make up the rotating “outside” deployment at Malbork. In Estonia a quartet of Spanish Eurofighter C.16 Typhoons landed recently.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger, including source information provided by the Siły Powietrzne

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The first upgraded MiG-29UB of the Polish Air Force (Image © Roman Nawrocki / Ministerstwo Obrony Narodowej)
The first upgraded MiG-29UB of the Polish Air Force (Image © Roman Nawrocki / Ministerstwo Obrony Narodowej)
A Polish Air Force MiG-29A Fulcrum of 23. BLT at extremely low level (Image © Marcel Burger)
A Polish Air Force MiG-29A Fulcrum of 23. BLT at extremely low level (Image © Marcel Burger)