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25 Cavalry Brigade of the Polish Army; Deblin, August 23, 2015

The Polish Air Force, part 9; Text and Photograph's by Alex van Noye

The 25 Brygada Kawalerii Powietrznej (25.BCPow) is the airmobile brigade of the Polish Army. The brigade is composed of two units which fly helicopters of the type Mil Mi-8/17 "Hip" and PZL W-3 Sokol. In addition, the 25 Cavalry Brigade also contains two cavalry battalions of the Polish Army in its organizational structure.

The second brigade in the Polish Army which is equipped with helicopters is the 25 Brygada Kawalerii Powietrznej (25th Air Cavalry Brigade) (25.BKPow). The brigade was formed on June 15, 1994 as the 25 Mazowiecka Cavalry Brigade of the Polish Army and honors the traditions of the Mazowsze Cavalry Brigade of the Second Polish Republic. The 25.BKPow is the airmobile brigade of the Polish Army. In this period were airmobile brigades founded everywhere in Europe, because these types of units had proven their value in American service during the First Gulf War. The unit was named after Prince Jozef Poniatowski and was placed under the command of the military district of Krakow. Ultimately, the division would consist of three cavalry regiments with an air airbase and several security units. The division was initially too small due to financial setbacks. The planned units could therefore not be created on the short term. The brigade was therefore transformed into the current 25.BKPow. The brigade reports to the commander of the Airborne Mechanized Corps (Wojska Zmechanizowane Aeromobilne). The headquarters of the 25.BKPow is located at the barracks in Tomaszowie Mazowieckim southeast of the city of Łódź. The units under the command of the 25.BKPow, are; The 25 Battalion Dowodzenia (25 Command Battalion) in Tomaszowie Mazowieckim, the 1 Battalion Kawalerii Powietrznej (1 Air Cavalry Battalion) in Leźnicy Wielkiej, the 7 Battalion Kawalerii Powietrznej (7 Air Cavalry Battalion) in Tomaszowie Mazowieckim, the 66 Dywizjon Lotniczy (66 Air Squadron) in Nowy Glinnik, the 37 Dywizjon Lotniczy (37 Air Squadron) in Leznica-Wielka and the 25 Battalion Logistyczny (25 Logistics Battalion) in Nowy Glinnik.

The 37 Baza Lotnicza (37.BLot) is Leznica-Wielka and is the first airfield where units of the 25.BKPow are stationed. Leznica-Wielka is located northwest of the city of Lodz in central Poland. This air base is the home base of the 37 Dywizjon Lotniczy (37th Air Squadron) 37.dlot of the 25.BKPow. This airbase has two units which are part of the

37.dlot, namely; the 1.Eskadra Śmigłowców (1.ES) (1st Helicopter Squadron) and the 2.ES. Both units fly different variants of the Mi-8 "Hip" and Mi-17 "Hip". The history of the 37.DLot began in 1971 when the 37 Pulku Śmigłowców Transportowych (37th Transport Helicopter Regiment) was formed. From 1994, the unit became part of the current structure. The main tasks of the 37.Blot is the transport of troops and supplies to the battlefield, providing air support to ground troops and evacuating wounded ground troops. The main variant of the Mi-8 which is used by the 37.Blot is the Mi-8T. This variant is the transport version of the Hip and is used for troop and material transport. The unit flies the Mi-8P which is recognizable by its large square windows in the fuselage. Also this variant of the Hip is mainly used for transport duties. The armed version of the Mi-8 is the Mi-8MTV which is also used by the 37.BLot. These helicopters can be equipped with rocket pods which can be mounted on brackets along the fuselage. The 37.BLot has also the Mi-17 “Hip” in use for transport tasks.

The second airbase of the 25.BKPow the 66 Baza Lotnicza is part (66.BLot) in Nowy Glinnik which is located north of Tomaszów Mazowiecki. This airbase contains the 66 Dywizjon Lotniczy (66th Air Squadron) 66.dlot. This unit consists of three smaller units, which are all equipped with different variants of the W-3 Sokol. These units are the 1 Eskadra Śmigłowców (1.ES) (1 Helicopter Squadron), the 2.ES and the Eskadra Śmigłowców Rozpoznania Radioelektroniczwego (ESRR) (Helicopter Reconnaissance Squadron). The unit was established on August 1, 1999; the 66.BLot is therefore still a very young unit in Poland. The duties of the helicopters of the 66.BLot are providing close air support for ground troops, troop transport, securing landing zones for the air cavalry and evacuating wounded soldiers. The helicopters of the 66.BLot ensure that troops and supplies quickly are disposed from and to the battlefield. Especially in areas which are hard to reach with vehicles the helicopters play an important role within this unit. The 1.ES and 2.ES use the PZL W-3W and W-3WA Sokol for their tasks. The W-3W version of the Sokol is armed with a GSZ-23L cannon on the right side of the helicopter. This helicopter has four attachment points for weapons such as wire-guided missiles and rocket pods which are hanging on the trunk. The W-3WA Sokol is a variant of the W-3A Sokol which is updated to the W-3W standard and is therefore able to perform the same tasks. The ESRR is equipped with W-3A PPD-2 which is a flying command post and the W-3A SSR-10 Procjon and W- 3RR S-1RR Procjon which are reconnaissance variants of the Sokol.

Over the years, the 25.BKPow was developed during many tactical exercises to an optimal instrument for the Polish Army. The method developed for warfare with modern cavalry helicopters and their ability to deliver on-site fire support appears to be a successful formula. These aspects come together during tactical airmobile operations in conjunction with the soil of the ground forces of the 25.BKPow. The areas where forces are training are areas surrounding lakes and swamps, mountainous areas and urban areas. By actions of the airmobile brigade, helicopters and ground troops are deployed under a joint command to achieve this goal. In addition, these helicopters are an integral part of a combat group and not just in means of transport, but also in means of a combat group. In April 2015, the Polish Ministry of Defense has elected the Airbus Helicopters H225M Caracal as successor to the Mi-8 and Mi-17 helicopters within the 25.BKPow. This helicopter was chosen above the NH90 and the UH-60 Blackhawk. In total, the Polish Army will receive together with the Polish Navy 50 helicopters of which a significant part will fly at the 25.BKPow. Also, some of these helicopters will be used in the CSAR role within the 1.BLWL. The Caracal is originally a French design and is in France already widely deployed as a CSAR helicopter.

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