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The 2 Tactical Air Wing; Minsk-Mazowiecki, August 21, 2015

The Polish Air Force, part 4; Text and Photograph's by Alex van Noye

The 2 Tactical Air Wing is the most modern and youngest wing of the Polish Air Force. The units of this wing are equipped with the Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon. Like the 1 Tactical Air Wing also the 2 Tactical Air Wing is able to operate both in the air defense role as the offensive role with the help of the F-16.

The second tactical wing of the Polish Air Force is in Polish referred to as the 2 Skrzydło Lotnictwa Taktycznego (2.SLT). Like the 1.SLT is also the 2.SLT a fully self-contained mini air force. Also this wing is able to determine both the offensive role as the air defense role. The 2.SLT is operational with the American Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon. The F-16 is a multirole aircraft which can be flown by the units in different configurations for different tasks. The headquarters of the 2.SLT is stationed at 31 Baza Lotnictwa Taktycznego (31.BLT) Poznań-Krzesiny. The 2.SLT was founded by the Polish Ministry of Defense on October 24, 1997. This wing was formed during one of the Polish reforms to the new NATO squadron wing structure which is nowadays used in Poland. The tasks of the 2.SLT are all round tasks and mainly consist of the air defense role and the ground attack role for destroying targets on land and at sea. Some other tasks which are also performed by the units of the 2.SLT include conducting aerial surveys, participation in peacekeeping operations, providing support to troops on the ground and support the activities of the army and the navy. The F-16s of the 2.SLT often participate in international exercises in NATO context. The F-16 is the most modern aircraft in Poland and is therefore most often sent to crisis areas. The F-16 plays a key role during these detachments. The badge of the 2.SLT is recognizable by a blue falcon which is attacking in a blue circle.

The most modern combat aircraft in use in Poland is currently the Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon. The decision to purchase the F-16 was made by the Poles in 2002. The F-16 would receive in Poland the role of a multirole fighter which will replace the outdated MiG-21 fleet in Poland. In addition to the F-16, there are also other aircraft types examined before the decision for the F-16 was made. One of the competitors included the French Mirage 2000 and the Swedish Saab JAS-39 Gripen. Poland signed a contract in 2002 for the delivery of 48 combat aircraft. This series

would consist of 36 aircraft of the type F-16C-52CF and twelve aircraft of the type of F-16D-52CF. The Polish F-16s wear a different color scheme compared to the standard colors which are used for the F-16. The Polish F-16 received a light gray and dark gray camouflage pattern which is also used on the Polish MiG-29s. In total There would be three squadron equipped with the F-16, namely the 3.elt, the 6.elt and 10.elt. All these units would each receive 16 aircraft of which twelve times F-16C and four times F-16D. The Polish F-16 aircraft are on the latest standard and are equipped with the Pratt and Whitney F-100-229 turbofan engine. The F-16 can also be equipped with electronic systems such as the APG-68 (V) 9 (Terrain Mapping Radar System) and the ALQ-211 (V) 4 (Electronic Warfare Suite). The Polish F-16 can also be equipped with the latest American guided bombs like JDAM/JSOW and the AIM-120C-5 AMRAAM and AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air missile.

The first airbase which is part of the 2.SLT is 31 Baza Lotnictwa Taktycznego (31.BLT) Poznań-Krzesiny. This air base is located in the west of Poland. Poznań is the largest F-16 base in Poland and is home to two F-16 squadrons. These two squadrons are the 3 Eskadra Lotnictwa Taktycznego (3.elt) and 6 Eskadra Lotnictwa Taktycznego (6.elt). The airbase was in its current form designated since the reorganization of April 1, 2008. Poznan was in Poland the first airbase which was fully equipped as a NATO base. Both squadrons which are stationed at Poznan fly both the F-16C-52CF and F-16D-52CF Fighting Falcon. The 3.elt is a unit of the former 3rd Fighter Regiment and has its origins as the GC 1/145 Escadrille of the French Air Force during the Second World War. As of January 1, 2001, the unit was designated as the 3.elt. The squadron flew in the past with the Russian MiG-21MF and MiG-21UM. Since 2002, the MiG-21MFs were exchanged for the more modern MiG-21bis. Eventually, the unit was in 2006 the first unit in the Polish Air Force which received the F-16. The second unit at Poznań is the 6.elt. This squadron is a descendant of the seventh Pulku Lotnictwa Bombowo-Rozpoznawczego (7 Bomber Reconnaissance Aviation Regiment) and the 6 Pulku i Lotnictwa Myśliwsko-Bombowego Sformowana Została (6th Fighter Bomber Regiment). The squadron took over the traditions of the 6th Regiment when it was founded in its current form on January 1, 2001. The unit flew like the 3.elt with the MiG-21MF "Fishbed". The 6.elt is since 2007 the second unit in Poland which was going to fly with the F-16C-52CF and F-16D-52CF Fighting Falcon.

The second airbase which is part of the 2.SLT is 32 Baza Lotnictwa Taktycznego (32.BLT) Łask. This air base is located in the middle of Poland, southeast of the city of Łódź. At this air base is one F-16 squadron stationed at this moment, namely the 10 Eskadra Lotnictwa Taktycznego (10.elt). This squadron was founded in the Polish current organizational structure from January 1, 2001. The squadron was from March 31, 2001 for the first time fully operational in its present form. The history of the 32.BLT begins with that of the creation of the 10th Fighter Regiment, the 2nd Fighter Regiment and the 31st Combat Training Regiment in the period of the Soviet Union. These regiments would form the 10.elt after the necessary reforms. The 10.elt became operational in the new structure in 2001; the squadron flew the Russian MiG-21 "Fishbed". The MiG-21 was currently the most deployed aircraft for the air defense. The MiG-21s which were then assigned to the unit were of the type MiG-MF and MiG-21UM. The unit had some training aircraft of the type TS-11 Iskra in use as well. The Fishbed’s of the 10.elt were eventually phased out at the Polish Air Force in 2003. Łask was an inactive airbase after the retirement of the MiG-21. The airbase was converted in the period up to 2008 into a NATO airbase. Everything was renovated to Western standards. From autumn 2008, the first F-16s were stationed in Łask.

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