Tag Archives: Su-22

War games as usual over the Baltic Sea

While NATO, Sweden and Finland are jointly engaged in large scale military exercises on the Baltic Sea coasts and in the countries neighbouring Russia, it is business as usual in the air above the Northern European waters with Russia sending up bombers and escorts, and the opposing side scrambling fighter jets.

Last week was somewhat special. The stars and stripes were promoted big time by two US Air Force B-52H bombers dropping training sea mines off the coast of Skåne in Southern Sweden. They were escorted by at least four Swedish Air Force Gripen fighter jets. The training mission, with the Buffs flying in from the United Kingdom, was part of the large scale Baltops 2015 exercise (5 – 20 June), that also saw Swedish and US Marines landing on the Scandinavian coast using the USS San Antonio as main floating base. Baltops 2015 also marked the first time the B-52s were on a real operational training mission inside Swedish air space.

The last couple of days saw the more usual suspects. Russian aircraft gave acte de presence in international airspace bordering Finland, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany and Denmark.

Royal Air Force Typhoons came home with nice pictures of a pair of Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-31 Foxhound long-distance interceptors. Saab JAS 39 Gripen planes of the Swedish Air Force shadowed a pair of Tupolev Tu-22M3 bombers escorted by two MiG-31s twice in 24 hours, as the Russian Air Force package was making a routine flight from the St. Petersburg area over the Baltic Sea towards Kaliningrad.

Baltic Air Policing
NATO planes at Ämari in Estonia and/or Šiauliai in Lithuania and/or Malbork in Poland also scramble to intercept a Ilyushin IL-20 at least on one occasion. The recon/spy plane is a regular for the NATO jets. The more specials of this week were a Iluyshin / Beriev A-50 AWACS and an Antonov AN-26. Currently the Baltic Air Policing mission on the three bases mentioned, is run by the Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) and the Belgian Air Component – both each with 4 F-16AM Fighting Falcons – plus the Royal Air Force and the Italian Air Force – both each with 4 Eurofighter EF2000 / Typhoon jets.

Saber Strike
Meanwhile NATO forces “attacked” a military airfield, Swidwin Airbase in Poland, as part of the multinational exercise Saber Strike 2015 (8 – 19 June) that includes the countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as well. The Saber Strike airfield assault that included a paradrop was meant to prep ground and air forces for a possible combined operation of the future.

Raptors
In an attempt to keep things at bay in that future the US policy makers are now even considering sending half or a whole squadron of F-22A Raptor air-supiority stealth fighters to the other side of the Atlantic, but neither a time schedule or a possible base of operations has been revealed.

Looks like the start of a warm Summer in usually cold Northern Europe.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): A MiG-31 in earlier action (Image © Olga Balashova / Russian Air Force)

Polish Fitters strike another decade

A Polish Air Force Su-22M4 is being readied for flight at Swidwin Airbase (Image © Marcel Burger)
A Polish Air Force Su-22M4 is being readied for flight at Swidwin Airbase (Image © Marcel Burger)

The Polish Air Force pilots will fly their Sukhoi Su-22M Fitter strike aircraft for another decade. The life-extension program has been okayed, confirmed the Polish Ministry of Defence on 4 April 2014. The original plan was to start withdrawing the fighter-bombers in 2016.

The modernisation will concern 18 aircraft: 12 standard Su-22M4s and six Su-22UM3K operational trainers. That’s two more than the preliminary planned 16 aircraft of one squadron. The original life-extension plan also included the merge of the upgraded Fitters into one squadron to save costs, but AIRheads↑Fly could not get confirmation that either 8. Eskadra Lotnictwa Taktycznego (Tactical Aviation Squadron or 8.elt) or 40.elt might loose its operational status or be disbanded.

Both units fly from 21 BLT Swidwin, which will be expanded and upgraded for US$ 180 million (EUR 140 million) to handle modern multi-purpose combat aircraft. The work on the base should be completed in 2022, ahead of the Polish plans to acquire up to 64 fifth-generation fighters like the F-35 Lightning II.

Systems
Each of the Fitters earmarked for service-life extension will be able to fly at least another 3,000 hours, meaning they could soldier on until 2025. Wojskowe Zaklady Lotnicze (WZL) will execute the overhaul, which includes the installation of new communications systems, a flight recording system and upgrading the instruments to the NATO feet and knots standards. Russian made fighters like the Su-22s normally have the altitude in metres and the speed in kilometres per hour. Each overhaul will take almost a year to complete.

MiG-29
The Polish Air Force (Siły Powietrzne) received 90 single-seat and 20 two-seat Fitters from 1984 onwards, of which 26 M4s and 6 UM3Ks remain. The eight aircraft not to be upgraded might be used for training purposes or spare parts. After 2020 both the remaining 18 Su-22s and 16 modernised MiG-29s will be replaced by the new 5th generation fighter.

© 2014 AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger

Related posts

Check out the Polish Air Force Orbat at Scramble.nl

Survival of the Fitter

Poland still operates quite a number of Sukhoi Su-22 Fitters. This one is seen in June 2001 at Swidwin Airbase in central Poland. Nice artistic touch there to the fuel tanks. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Poland still operates quite a number of Sukhoi Su-22 Fitters. This one is seen in June 2001 at Swidwin Airbase in central Poland. Nice artistic touch there to the fuel tanks. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

The Sukhoi Fitter family has always been a favourite with the AIRheads↑FLY editorial team. Why? Well, just take a look at the pics below. It doesn’t really look like a flying machine at all. It more resembles a dinosaur, one that survived extinction, one that will be around for some time to come, one that makes T-Rex look a tame animal. This is survival of the Fitter.

When you're talking dinosaurs, you're talking Su-7 Fitters. This is a Su-7U Fitter, with the extra U pointing at it being a twoseater aircraft. The aircraft is pictured in Muzeum Wojska Polskiego in Warsaw, were it survives. What else. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
When you’re talking dinosaurs, you’re talking Su-7 Fitter. This is a Su-7U Fitter, with the extra U pointing at it being a twoseater aircraft. The aircraft is pictured in Muzeum Wojska Polskiego in Warsaw, were it survives. What else. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Another twoseater, this time a Su22UM-3K form 8.ELT at Mirosławiec. This Fitter was captured however at Lechfeld airbase in Germany in May 2006. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Another twoseater, this time a Su-22UM-3K form 8.ELT at Mirosławiec. This Fitter was captured however at Lechfeld airbase in Germany in May 2006. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Germany
German Fitters weren’t around for too long. The East German NVA operated quite a number of aircraft, but after the reunification with West Germany only a few were kept in service for test purposes. Most aircraft were disposed of. They generaly had very few hours on the clock.

Gerany operated some Su-22s for a number of years. They were used for test purposes and were flying out of Ingolstadt Manching with test unit WTD61. This one is seen in may 1998 at Leeuwarden, the Netherlands. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
In the nineties, a number of German Fitters were used for test purposes. They were flying out of Ingolstadt Manching with test unit WTD61. This one is seen in may 1998 at Leeuwarden, the Netherlands. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Surviving, but barely. This German Fitter earned its place in the Luftwaffenmuseum in Gatow near Berlin. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Surviving, but barely. This German Fitter earned its place in the Luftwaffenmuseum in Gatow near Berlin. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Slovakia
Slovakia had its share of Fitters also and operated them well into the nineties. Some aircraft were eventually sold to other countries, Angola being one of them.

Slovak Fitter were a bit of a rare sight, but they paid a very welcome visit to the Netherlands in October 1997. Volkel airbase was the place to be. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Slovak Fitters were a bit of a rare sight, but they paid a very welcome visit to the Netherlands in October 1997. Volkel airbase was the place to be. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Czech Republic
When the Czech Republic and Slovakia split up into seperate countries in 1993, both of them continued flying the Su-22 Fitters that were before flying under the flag of Czechoslovakia. The Czech even had a display team flying the Fitters. Flying Fitters would actually have been a perfect name for them.

Czech_Su22
This is a Czech Su-22M-4 Fitter seen at RAF Fairford in 1995…. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
..... and this is the exact same aircraft, seen ten years later in Letecke Muzeum in Kbely near Prague. Fitters survive, it being in active service around the world or in well earned places in aviation museums. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
….. and this is the exact same aircraft, seen ten years later in Letecke Muzeum in Kbely near Prague. Either in active service around the world or in well earned places in aviation museums, Fitters survive. (Image © Elmer van Hest)