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The Polish Naval Aviation Brigade; Radom, August 22, 2015

The Polish Air Force, part 10; Text and Photograph's by Alex van Noye

The Polish Navy is able to defend the Polish maritime areas. Defending and guarding the coastline is an important part of this organization of the Polish Armed Forces. Besides the ships, the Polish Navy has also a fleet of aircraft and helicopters. These aircraft are based on the airfields Gdynia, Siemerowice and Darlowo.

The Polish Navy is referred to as the Marynarka Wojenna (MW) and is one of the four forces of the Polish armed forces alongside the Army, Air Force and Special Forces. The Navy's task is to defend the interests of the state in the Polish maritime area. This relates to the maritime defense of the coast and participation in the civil protection of the coast in combination with other forms of armed forces within the framework of the strategic defense of Poland. The Polish Naval Aviation is referred to as the Brygada Lotnictwa Marynarki Wojennej (Naval Aviation Brigade, BLMW). The headquarters of the BLMW is located in Gdynia Babie Doly north of the city of Gdansk. The aviation branch of the Polish Navy was named after Karol Trzasko-Durski. He was one of the first naval pilots during the First World War and took victories over ships of the Austro-Hungarian Navy. The Polish BLMW was in its current form established on November 1, 1994. The organization consisted of regiments as many other units during the Cold War. Later the organization was transformed into the squadron structure. The tasks of the BLMW consist of detecting, identifying and destroying submarines, provide protection (patrols) and rescue (SAR) at the Baltic Sea. Also identifying marine areas and identifying the objectives of the ships and ecological monitoring of marine waters belong to the tasks of the BLMW. The Polish BLMW has three active airfields in the country, namely Gdynia Babie Doly, Siemerowice and Darłowo.

The first airbase of the Polish Navy is the 43 Baza Lotnictwa Morskiego (Naval Air Base, 43.BLotM) Gdynia Babie Doly. This air base is located north of the city of Gdansk in northern Poland. The 43.BLotM was in its present form after a reform in the Navy established on January 1, 2011. The 43.BLotM was built from the former 28 Pucka Eskadrę Lotnicza (28.PLM) of the Polish Navy. A number of helicopter types and a single type of aircraft of the Polish Navy are stationed at this airbase. The PZL M28B Bryza-1TD is stationed at Babie Doly and is used for light transport duties. The

Navy has stationed at this airbase four of these light transport aircraft. Furthermore, there are on Babie Doly a few Mi-8MTV-1 "Hip" and one Mi-17 "Hip" is use which are both used for transport duties. For training flights there are two Mi-2 "Hoplite" helicopters stationed at Babie Doly within the base flight. For the anti-submarine warfare, the Polish Navy has in Babie Doly four Kaman SH-2G Super Seasprite helicopters in use. In 1999, the Polish-American agreement was signed for the acquisition of two US Navy frigates of the Oliver Hazard Perry class. These vessels had a shorter landing deck compared to other ships and therefore it was also decided in the same deal to buy four former US Seasprite helicopters which could land on it. The helicopters were delivered between 2002 and 2003 to the Polish Navy. Finally, there are at Babie Doly also three W-3WARM Anakonda and two W-3RM Anakonda rescue helicopters and two W-3T Sokol transport helicopters stationed.

The second Polish Navy air base is 44 Baza Lotnictwa Morskiego (44.BLotM) Siemerowice. This airbase located at a distance of approximately 50 kilometers west of Gdansk in northern Poland. The aircraft which are stationed at this airbase are part of the "Kaszubska" Grupa Lotnicza (Kashubian Aviation Group). Like the 43.BLotM also the 44.BLotM was founded in its current form in 2011. The naval unit at Siemerowice is a direct descendant of the 30 Kaszubskiej Eskadry Lotniczej. The 44.BLotM is not only stationed on Siemerowice but has also a detachment at Darłowo which is located 50 kilometers to the west. The helicopters which are based on this airbase belong to the "Darłowska" Grupa Lotnicza (Darłowian Aviation Group). On Siemerowice only aircraft of type PZL M28 are stationed. The PZL M28 is from 1994 in use at the Polish Navy and is the successor of the An-2 "Colt". The unit a Siemerowice has two PZL M28B Bryza 1E aircraft which are used for ecological monitoring. These aircraft are especially patrolling along the coastline to see if ships do comply with the environmental rules on emissions and waste discharges into the sea. For flying maritime reconnaissance the unit features seven PZL M28B Bryza-1R aircraft. These aircraft are used for reconnaissance, transport and maritime patrols along the shoreline. Finally, the 44.BLotM has on Siemerowice also a few M28B Bryza 1RM-bis in use which are next to reconnaissance at sea also be used to detect submarines.

All helicopters of the 44.BLotM are stationed at Darłowo. Darłowo is only a small airbase and has only a very short runway which can accommodate helicopters only. The helicopters of the 44.BLotM which are based at Darłowo fly at the 29 Darłowskiej Eskadry Lotniczej. The Polish Navy has at Darłowo three Mi-2 "Hoplite" Helicopters in use which can be used for training flights. These helicopters ensure that pilots can work cheap and they make sure that the fleet of heavy helicopters is relieved. For the SAR flight the navy has in Darłowo two W-3RM Anaconda rescue helicopters for rescue at sea. These helicopters are 24 hour a day standby to provide assistance at sea and along the Polish coastline. The Anakonda helicopters are in use in the Polish Navy since 1989. The W-3RM variant of the Sokol has compared the Army models inflatable floats; the helicopter is able to float in case of an emergency landing at sea. The Anakonda fleet at Darłowo is supported by two Mi-14GB/R "Haze" rescue helicopters. These helicopters are modernized Mi-14GB helicopters and can operate from ships. The helicopters are in addition to the anti-submarine warfare also used for SAR duties. Another eight Mi-14GB anti-submarine helicopters are based at Darłowo for the anti-submarine warfare. These helicopters are not only used for the detection of submarines, but are also able to destroy them with torpedoes. The Mi-14 has been used in the Polish Navy since 1981 and is now in the twilight of its operational service. It is not yet known which type of helicopter will replace Mi-14 at the Polish Navy.

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