Polish Air Force

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Polish Air Force
Siły Powietrzne
POL Wojska Lotnicze.svg
Polish Air Force's Eagle
Active 1918–present
Country  Poland
Branch Polish Armed Forces
Size 16,425 military[1]
475 aircraft
Part of Polish Armed Forces
Engagements Polish-Soviet War
World War II
War in Iraq
War in Afghanistan
Commander Gen. Broni Lech Majewski
Chief of Staff Gen. Dyw. Sławomir Kałuziński
Air Force Flag PL air force flag IIIRP.svg
Air Force Ensign POL air force airfields flag IIIRP.svg
Roundel Roundel of Poland.svg
Aircraft flown
Attack Su-22
Fighter F-16, MiG-29
Helicopter Mi-8, Mi-17, PZL W-3, PZL SW-4
Reconnaissance PZL M-28
Trainer PZL-130, TS-11
Transport C-130, C-295, M-28

The Polish Air Force (Siły Powietrzne, literally "Air Forces") is a military branch of the Polish Armed Forces. Until July 2004 it was officially known as Wojska Lotnicze i Obrony Powietrznej (literally: Air-and-Air Defence Forces). In 2014 it consisted of roughly 16,425 military personnel and about 475 aircraft, distributed among 10 bases throughout Poland. The Polish Air Force is currently one of the most advanced in Central Europe, equipped since 2008 with the Lockheed Martin F-16C jet fighter.[2][3]

The Polish Air Force can trace its origins to the months following the end of World War I in 1918. Following the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany in 1939, parts of the Polish Air Force was destroyed, although many of its pilots were able to either, soon after the Soviet invasion of Poland on 17 September to fly their aircraft to Hungary and Romania, or near the end of September campaign to fly to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia and Sweden where their aircraft were impounded and pilots interned in detention camps. Nevertheless most managed to escape and continue fighting throughout World War II in air squadrons first in France then in Britain and later also the Soviet Union. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Poland has steadily reduced its reliance upon Russian-built aircraft and by 2012 will have three squadrons of American-built F-16 fighter aircraft fully operational.



Albatros D.III (Oef) fighters of the Polish 7th Air Escadrille at Lewandówka airfield in the winter of 1919-1920

Military aviation in Poland started shortly after the country regained its independence after World War I, in November 1918. Initially, its air force consisted of mostly German and Austrian aircraft, such as the Fokker D.VII, Oeffag D.III and Albatros J.I, captured from the former Central Axis Powers. These planes were first used by the Polish Air Force in the Polish-Ukrainian War in late 1918, during combat operations centered around the city of Lwów (now Lviv).[4]

When the Polish-Soviet War broke out in February 1920, the Polish Air Force used a variety of western-made Allied aircraft, including some from countries such as Britain, France and Italy. The most common aircraft in service at this time were the British made Bristol F2B and Italian Ansaldo Balilla fighters. The 21. Eskadra Niszczycielska (21st Destroyer Squadron) included a Gotha G.IV on April 30, 1920.[4]

American volunteers, Merian C. Cooper and Cedric Fauntleroy, fighting in the Polish Air Force as part of the Polish 7th Air Escadrille, known as the "Kościuszko Squadron".
Tail insiginia of the "Kościuszko Squadron".

After the Polish-Soviet War ended, most of the old World War I aircraft were gradually withdrawn and the air force was equipped with new French aircraft. From 1924 to 1930 the primary fighter of the Polish Air Force was the SPAD 61 and its main bombers were the French produced Potez 15 and the Potez 25, which was eventually manufactured in Poland under license from Aéroplanes Henry Potez.

The first Polish-designed and mass-produced aircraft to serve in the country's air force was a high wing fighter, the PWS-10, first manufactured in 1930 by the Podlasie Aircraft Factory.


PZL.23 Karaś Tactical Bomber

In 1933, Zygmunt Pulawski's first high wing, all-metal aircraft, the PZL P.7a, was designed and produced, with 150 entering service. The design was followed by 30 improved PZL P.11a aircraft and a final design, the PZL P.11c, was delivered in 1935 and was a respectable fighter for its time; 175 entered service and it remained the only Polish fighter until 1939, by which time foreign aircraft design had overtaken it. Its final version, the PZL P.24, was built for export only and was bought by four countries. A new fighter prototype, the PZL.50 Jastrząb (Hawk), similar to the Seversky P-35 in layout, was curtailed by the Nazi invasion and two twin-engine heavy fighters, the PZL.38 Wilk and the PZL.48 Lampart, remained prototypes.[4]

As far as bombers are concerned, the Potez 25 and Breguet 19 were replaced by an all-metal monoplane, the PZL.23 Karaś, with 250 built from 1936 onwards, but by 1939 the Karas was outdated. In 1938 the Polish factory PZL designed a modern twin-engine medium bomber, the PZL.37 Łoś (Elk), arguably the best bomber in the world when it entered service that year. The Łoś had a bomb payload of 2580 kg and a top speed of 439 km/h. Unfortunately, only about 30 Łoś A bombers (single tailfin) and 70 Łoś B (twin tailfin) bombers had been delivered before the Nazi invasion.

PZL.37 Łoś Medium Bomber

As an observation and close reconnaissance plane, Polish escadres used the slow and easily damaged Lublin R-XIII, and later the RWD-14 Czapla. Polish naval aviation used the Lublin R-XIII on floats. Just before the war, some Italian torpedo planes, the CANT Z.506, were ordered, but only one was delivered, and it was without armament. The principal aircraft used to train pilots were the Polish-built high-wing RWD-8 and the PWS-26 biplane. In 1939, Poland ordered 160 MS-406s and 10 Hawker Hurricane fighters from abroad, but they were not delivered before the outbreak of war.


On 1 September 1939, at the beginning of the Invasion of Poland, all the Polish combat aircraft had been dispersed to secondary airfields, contrary to a commonly-held belief, based on German propaganda, that they had all been destroyed by bombing at their air bases. The aircraft destroyed by German bombers on the airfields were mostly trainer planes. The fighter planes were grouped into 15 escadres (five of them constituted the Pursuit Brigade, deployed in the Warsaw area). Despite being obsolete, Polish PZL-11 fighters shot down over 170 German planes. The bombers, grouped in nine escadres of the Bomber Brigade, attacked armoured columns but suffered heavy losses. Seven reconnaissance and 12 observation escadres, deployed to particular armies, were used primarily for reconnaissance. Part of the Polish Air Force was destroyed in the campaign; the surviving aircraft were either captured or withdrawn to Romania, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Slovenia, or Sweden where, subsequently, the captors employed these aircraft for their own use (in case of Romania till 1956). A great number of pilots and aircrew managed to escape to France and then to Britain, where they played a significant part in the defence of the United Kingdom against Nazi invasion, during the Battle of Britain.

Number of planes on September 1, 1939[5]
Type Model Total Combat formations
Fighters PZL P.11 175 140
PZL P.7 105 30
Light bombers/Tactical bombers PZL.23A 35 0
PZL.23B 170 120
PZL.43A 6 6
PZL.46 2 1
Medium bombers PZL.37 Łoś 86 36
PZL.30 Żubr 15 0
Surveillance aircraft and Army cooperation planes Lublin R-XIII 150 55
RWD-14 Czapla 60 40
RWD-8 550 (most of them civilian) ~20
PWS-16bis 15 15
Total 1369 463

1940 (France)[edit]

After the fall of Poland, the Polish Air Force started to regroup in France. The only complete unit created before the German attack on France was the GC I/145 fighter squadron, flying Caudron C.714 light fighters. It was the only unit operating the C.714 at the time. The Polish pilots were also deployed to various French squadrons, flying on all types of French fighters, but mostly on the MS-406. After the surrender of France, many of these pilots managed to escape to Britain to continue the fight against the Luftwaffe.

1940–1947 (United Kingdom)[edit]

Tail insignia of the famous 303 RAF Fighter Squadron (Polish) based on the Kościuszko Squadron tail insignia of World War I (see above).

Following the fall of France in 1940, Polish units were formed in the United Kingdom, as a part of the Royal Air Force and known as the Polish Air Force (PAF). Four Polish squadrons were formed: 300 Squadron and 301 Squadron flew bombers, 302 Squadron and 303 Squadron flew Hawker Hurricane fighters. The two Polish fighter squadrons first saw action in the third phase of the Battle of Britain in August 1940, with much success; the pilots were battle-hardened and Polish flying skills had been well learned from the Invasion of Poland. The pilots were regarded as fearless, sometimes bordering on reckless. Nevertheless, success rates were very high in comparison to UK and Empire pilots. 303 Squadron became the most efficient RAF fighter squadron at that time. Many Polish pilots also flew individually in other RAF squadrons.

As World War II progressed, further Polish squadrons were created in the United Kingdom: No. 304 Polish Bomber Squadron (bomber, then Coastal Command), 305 Squadron (bomber), 306 Squadron (fighter), 307 Squadron (night fighter), 308 Squadron (fighter), 309 Squadron (reconnaissance, then fighter), 315 Squadron (fighter), 316 Squadron (fighter), 317 Squadron (fighter), 318 Squadron (fighter-reconnaissance), 663 Squadron (air observation/artillery spotting) and the Polish Fighting Team also known as the "Skalski Circus", attached to 145 Squadron RAF. The fighter squadrons initially flew Hurricanes, then switched to Spitfires, and eventually to P-51 Mustangs. 307 Squadron, like other night fighter squadrons (such as 410 Squadron Royal Canadian Air Force), flew Boulton-Paul Defiants, Bristol Beaufighters and finally de Havilland Mosquitoes. The bomber squadrons were initially equipped with Fairey Battles and Vickers Wellingtons. 300 Squadron was later assigned Avro Lancasters, 301 Squadron Handley Page Halifaxes and Consolidated Liberators and 305 Squadron, de Havilland Mosquitoes and North American Mitchells. 663 Squadron (air observation/artillery spotting) flew Auster AOP IIIs and Vs. After the war, all equipment was returned to the British, but only some of the pilots and crews actually returned to Poland, many settling in the United Kingdom.

1943–1945 (Russia)[edit]

Along with the Polish People's Army (Ludowe Wojsko Polskie) in the USSR, the Ludowe Lotnictwo Polskie – Polish People's Air Force – was created, in defence of the Soviet Union against Nazi invasion. In late 1943, the 1st Fighter Regiment "Warszawa", (equipped with Yak-1 and Yak-9 aircraft), the 2nd Night Bomber Regiment "Kraków" (flying Polikarpov Po-2 aircraft – produced in Poland as the CSS-13 from 1949 onwards), and the 3rd Assault Regiment (flying Ilyushin Il-2 aircraft) were formed. During 1944–5, further regiments were created, coming together to form the 1st Mixed Air Corps, consisting of a bomber division, an assault division, a fighter division and a mixed division. After the war, these returned to Poland and gave birth to the air force of the People's Republic of Poland.


MiG-15 Fighter

In 1949, the Li-2sb transport aircraft was adapted into a bomber and in 1950, Poland received Petlyakov Pe-2 and Tupolev Tu-2 bombers from the Soviet Union along with USB-1 and USB-2 training bombers. In 1950 also, the Yak-17 fighter came into service, as did the Ilyushin Il-12 transport and the Yak-18 trainer. From 1951 onwards, the Polish Air Force was equipped with Yak-23 jet fighters and MiG-15 jets, along with a training version, the MiG-15 UTI, and later, in 1961, the MiG-17.

As well as Soviet-produced aircraft, from 1952 onwards Soviet MiG-15 and later MiG-17 fighters were produced under licence in Poland as the Lim-1, Lim-2 and later the Lim-5. A domestic ground attack variant of the Lim-5M was developed as the Lim-6bis in 1964. The only jet bomber used by the Polish Air Force during this period was the Ilyushin Il-28, from 1952 onwards. Poland used only a small number of MiG-19s from 1959, in favour of the MiG-21 from 1963 onwards, which became its main supersonic fighter. This aircraft was used in numerous variants from MiG-21F-13, through MiG-21PF and MF to MiG-21bis. Later, the Polish Air Force received 37 MiG-23s (1979) and 12 MiG-29s (1989).

The main fighter-bomber and ground attack aircraft after 1949 was the Il-10 (a training version, the UIl-10, entering service in 1951). From 1965 onwards, Poland also used a substantial number of Su-7Bs for bombing and ground attack, replaced with 27 Sukhoi Su-20s in 1974 and 110 Sukhoi Su-22s in 1984.

Il-28 Medium Bomber

Propeller-driven training aircraft, the Junak-2 (in service since 1952), the TS-9 Junak-3 (in service since 1954) and the PZL TS-8 Bies (since 1958) were later replaced by a jet trainer, the domestically built TS-11 Iskra. Another Polish jet trainer, the PZL I-22 Iryda, was used for some time but, because of continuing problems, all machines were returned to PZL for modification and did not resume service. The Yak-12 was used as a multirole aircraft from 1951, the An-2 from 1955 and subsequently the Wilga-35 P.

Transport aircraft used by the Polish Air Force during this period included: the Il-14 (first in service in 1955), the Il-18 (first in service in 1961), the An-12B (first in service in 1966), the An-26 (first in service in 1972), the Yak-40 (first in service in 1973) and the Tupolev Tu-154. A number of helicopters were used by the Polish Army: the SM-1 (a Mil Mi-1 manufactured under licence), which was a multirole helicopter, in operation since 1956; the Mil Mi-4, multirole, since 1958; the PLZ SM-2, multirole, since 1960; the Mil Mi-2 and Mil Mi-8 (later also Mil Mi-17), multirole, since 1968 and the Mil Mi-24, a combat helicopter, since 1976. Also the Mil Mi-14, an amphibious helicopter, and the Mil Mi-6, both used as transports.

In 1954, the Polish Air Force was merged with the Air Defence Force, creating the Air and Country Air Defence Forces (Wojska Lotnicze i Obrony Przeciwlotniczej Obszaru Kraju  – WLiOPL OK), a military organisation composed of both flying and anti-aircraft units. In 1962, the WLiOPL OK were separated back again into their two original component bodies: the Air Force (Wojska Lotnicze) and the Country Air Defence Force (Wojska Obrony Powietrznej Kraju).

Since 1990[edit]

Polish Air Force Mikoyan MiG-29

After political upheaval and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and a consequent reduction in the state of military anxiety in the whole of Europe, the Polish Air Force was reduced. On July 1, 1990, the Polish Air Force and the Air Defence Force were merged again (Wojska Lotnicze i Obrony Powietrznej – WLiOP or WLOP). The attack capability of this force consisted primarily of MiG-21s, MiG-23s, MiG-29s, Su-20s and Su-22s. The remaining Lim-6bis were withdrawn in the early 1990s, followed soon afterwards by the withdrawal of the remaining Su-20 aircraft. The small number of remaining MiG-23s were withdrawn by 1999. Throughout the 1990s, Poland had not purchased any new combat aircraft and only managed to acquire further MiG-29s from the Czech Republic in 1995 and from Germany in 2004. MiG-21s were finally withdrawn from service in 2003. In 2004, the only remaining combat aircraft flown by the WLiOP were the MiG-29 and the Su-22. As of 2010, the fleet of Su-22s is in need of modernization to retain any value as a combat aircraft and its future is unclear.[6]

F-16 D block 52+ "Hawk" Multirole Fighter

In 2002, the F-16C/D Block 52+ from the American company Lockheed Martin was chosen as a new multirole fighter for the WLiOP, the first deliveries taking place in November 2006 and continued until 2008 under Peace Sky program. As of 2011 the Polish Air Force have three squadrons of F-16s: two stationed at the 31st Tactical Air Base near Poznań and the 10th Tactical Squadron at the 32nd Air Base near Łask, which will be fully operational by 2012. The acquisition of the US F-16 was not without fierce competition from European aerospace companies; the sale was hotly pursued by the French company Dassault, with their Mirage 2000 and by the Swedish company Saab, with the JAS 39 Gripen. The Polish Block 52+ F-16s are equipped with the latest Pratt and Whitney F-100-229 afterburning turbofan engines, and the avionics suite will include the APG-68(V)9 terrain mapping radar system and the ALQ-211(V)4 electronic warfare suite. All Polish F-16s will be fully equipped to carry the latest in US precision ordnance, ranging from the JDAM/JSOW to the latest in export-certificate-authorized air-to-air weaponry (including the AIM-120C-5 and AIM-9X).

As the aftermath of the presidential Tu-154 crash in 2010 and later Polish investigation the 36th Special Aviation Regiment, responsible for transporting the President and the Polish Government, was disbanded, all officials flights will be carried by two LOT Polish Airlines Embraer E-175.[7] A new unit operates the W-3 VIP helicopters. On 27 February 2014 Poland signed a €280 milion contract with Alenia Aermacchi for 8 M-346 Master advanced training jet.[8][9] In May 2014, Defence Minister Tomasz Siemoniak announced plans for the future acquisition of attack helicopters in response to the Ukraine crisis.[10]

On 11 December 2014 Polish officials signed a contract with the United States for the purchase of 44 AGM-158 Joint Air to Surface Stand off Missile, for $250 million USD. Also contained in the contract are upgrades to the fleet of Polish F-16s to be completed by Lockheed Martin.[11]

Aircraft inventory[edit]

Model Image Type Country Variant Number Details
Combat Aircraft
Lockheed Martin F-16 Jastrząb F 16 Jastrzab.jpg Multirole combat aircraft  United States F-16C-52+
Armed with[12]
562 AIM-9X
384 AIM-120C-5 AMRAAM
816 AGM-65G Maverick
280 AGM-154C JSOW and
Mk.82, Mk.84, GBU-31, GBU-38, GBU-22, GBU-24, AGM-158 JASSM.
Two more F-16A block 15 are not in flying condition and are used as instructional airframes.
Mikoyan MiG-29 MiG-29A-2005-Poznan.jpg Fighter aircraft  USSR MiG-29A
Out of 44 acquired Soviet made izdielije 9.12A, including former German MiG-29G/GT.[13][14][15]
Sukhoi Su-22 Polish Air Force Sukhoi Su-22M4 Lofting.jpg Attack aircraft  USSR Su-22M4
Out of 110 acquired delivered 1984-88.[16][17] 16 planned to remain in service until 2026.[18][19][20]
Transport Aircraft
PZL An-28 Krzesiny 138RB.JPG Utility transport  USSR
An-28TD 2[21]
PZL M28B Bryza Krzesiny 129RB.JPG Utility transport  Poland Bryza TD
CASA C-295 Polish Air Force CASA C-295M Lofting.jpg Tactical transport  Spain C-295M 16 17 delivered,[24][25][26] 1 crashed on January 24th, 2008.
Lockheed C-130 Hercules C130 Polish air force.jpg Tactical transport  United States C-130E 5
Trainer aircraft
PZL TS-11 Iskra TS-11 Iskra R RB3.JPG Trainer aircraft  Poland PZL TS-11 38 To be replaced by eight Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master with delivery planned for 2016-2017.[27][28]
PZL-130 Orlik Krzesiny 64RB.JPG Trainer aircraft  Poland PZL-130TC-I
16 modernized to PZL-130TC-II standard (2011-2014), TC-III variant under development.[29]
Diamond DA20 Diamond DA20 on the Ramp.jpg Trainer aircraft  Austria DA20 C-1 "Eclipse" 5 3 more on order[30]
Mil Mi-8 Krzesiny 97RB.JPG Transport helicopter
Passenger helicopter
Rescue helicopter
To be replaced by 10 new CSAR helicopters in the near future.
Mil Mi-17 MSPO 2010 (04).jpg Transport helicopter  Russia Mi-17-1V 10 Armed with M134G.
PZL Mi-2 Krzesiny 106RB.JPG Light transport helicopter  Poland Mi-2/Mi-2RL 54
PZL W-3 Sokół Krzesiny 113RB.JPG Utility helicopter
Rescue helicopter
VIP helicopter
 Poland W-3T
PZL SW-4 Puszczyk Krzesiny 120RB.JPG Light transport/trainer helicopter  Poland PZL SW-4 24
Guimbal Cabri G2 Cabri G2.JPG Light trainer helicopter  France G2 2[26] 3 on order.[32]

Retired aircraft[edit]

See also: gallery of Media related to Retired aircraft of the Polish Air Force at Wikimedia Commons

Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service # of aircraft Notes
Yakovlev Yak-1 [33]  Soviet Union fighter Yak-1B 1943–1946 70
Yakovlev Yak-3 [33]  Soviet Union fighter 1944–1945 25
Yakovlev Yak-9 [33]  Soviet Union fighter Yak-9
Ilyushin Il-2  Soviet Union attack aircraft Il-2M/M3/UIl-2 1944–1949 200+
Ilyushin Il-10  Soviet Union
attack aircraft Il-10
Yakovlev Yak-17 [33]  Soviet Union fighter
fighter trainer
1950–1955 3
Yakovlev Yak-23 [33]  Soviet Union fighter Yak-23 1950–1956 103
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15  Soviet Union

fighter trainer
PZL-Mielec Lim-1/2 (MiG-15/bis)[33]  Poland fighter Lim-1
some converted to twin-seat SBLim-1/2
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17  Soviet Union interceptor MiG-17PF 1955–1965 12
PZL-Mielec Lim-5/6 (MiG-17) [33]  Poland fighter
attack aircraft
attack aircraft
over 100 Lim-5 converted to Lim-6bis and retired in 80s, 42 Lim-5P converted to Lim-6M, 12 Lim-5P to Lim-6MR, 70 bis converted to reconnaissance Lim-6R.
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-19 [34]  Soviet Union fighter
1957–1974 24
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 [34]  Soviet Union fighter MiG-21F-13
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 [34]  Soviet Union fighter trainer MiG-21U
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23 [34]  Soviet Union fighter
fighter trainer
1979–1999 36
Sukhoi Su-7 [34]  Soviet Union attack aircraft Su-7BM
Sukhoi Su-20[34]  Soviet Union attack aircraft/
Petlyakov Pe-2  Soviet Union bomber Pe-2FT 1944–1954 101
Tupolev Tu-2  Soviet Union bomber/target tug Tu-2S/UTu-2 1945–1960 8
Ilyushin Il-28  Soviet Union bomber/
1952–1986 72
Shcherbakov Shche-2  Soviet Union transport 1945–1947 5
Lisunov Li-2  Soviet Union transport/VIP transport 1945–1968 19
Douglas C-47 Skytrain  United States transport 1945– 11
SNCAC NC-701  France transport/
aerial photography
1949–1955 6 former LOT Polish Airlines
PZL-Mielec An-2  Soviet Union
utility transport An-2T/TD/W 1956–2012 138 Retired after 56 years on December 14, 2012, some transferred to civil aviation.[35]
Ilyushin Il-12  Soviet Union transport Il-12D 1957–1967 3
Ilyushin Il-14  Soviet Union transport/VIP transport Il-14P/T/S 1955–1990 17
Ilyushin Il-18  Soviet Union transport Il-18W 1961–1987 5
Antonov An-12[34]  Soviet Union transport An-12B 1966–1995 2 one crashed in 1977
Antonov An-24[34]  Soviet Union transport An-24W 1966–1977 6
Antonov An-26[34]  Soviet Union transport An-26 1972–2009 12
Yakovlev Yak-40[34]  Soviet Union VIP transport 1973–2011 18
Tupolev Tu-134  Soviet Union VIP transport Tu-134A 1974–1992 4
Tupolev Tu-154[34]  Soviet Union VIP transport Tu-154M 1990–2011 2 one crashed in 2010
Polikarpov Po-2  Soviet Union
Messerschmitt Bf 108  Nazi Germany liaison 1944– few captured
Focke-Wulf Fw 58  Nazi Germany liaison 1944–1954 1 captured
Fieseler Fi 156  Nazi Germany liaison/medevac 1945– 5
Yakovlev Yak-12  Soviet Union
Yak-12R/M/A 1951– 100+ Passed on civilian flying clubs.
PZL-104 Wilga  Poland liaison/utility/
Wilga 35A 1973–1993 27 Passed on civilian flying clubs.
Yakovlev UT-2  Soviet Union trainer 1944–1952 140
Polikarpov UTI-4  Soviet Union trainer
Tupolev USB  Soviet Union training bomber USB-2M-103
Yakovlev Yak-18  Soviet Union trainer Yak-18 1949–1960 15+ Passed on civilian flying clubs.
LWD Junak  Poland trainer Junak 2
Junak 3
Passed on civilian flying clubs.
Yakovlev Yak-11  Soviet Union
trainer Yak-11
1954–1962 101
PZL TS-8 Bies  Poland trainer BI/BII/BIII 1957–1970 250 Passed on civilian flying clubs.
PZL I-22 Iryda[34]  Poland jet trainer M93K 1992–1996 8
PZL SM-1 (Mi-1)[33]  Soviet Union
light liaison/utility/
training helicopter
1957–1983 ~30
Mil Mi-4[33]  Soviet Union utility helicopter Mi-4A 1958–1981 17
PZL SM-2[33]  Poland light transport/liaison/
utility helicopter
SM-2 1960-1979 ~50
Mil Mi-6[34]  Soviet Union heavy lift helicopter Mi-6A 1986–1990 3
Bell 412[34]  United States VIP helicopter 412SP/HP
Originally 2 Bell 412SP/HP were leased during Pope John Paul II visit to Poland in 1991, in 1993 single Bell 412HP joined Air Force, in 2011 transferred to the Ministry of Interior (Police).[36]


Major bases[edit]

Base Town Unit Aircraft Task
1st Air Base POL Warszawa COA.svg Warszawa W-3, Mi-8 VIP
1st Airport Station POL Radom COA.svg Radom 2nd Flying Training Centre PZL-130 Training
6th Air Base POL Dęblin COA.svg Dęblin 1st Flying Training Centre TS-11, PZL-130, SW-4 Training
8th Air Base POL Kraków COA.svg Kraków 13th Airlift Squadron (Polish Air Force) CASA C-295, PZL M-28, Airlift
21st Air Base POL Świdwin COA.svg Świdwin 40th Tactical Squadron and 7th Tactical Squadron
1st Search and Rescue Group[37]
22nd Air Base POL Malbork COA.svg Malbork 41st Tactical Squadron MiG-29 Providing Air superiority
23rd Air Base POL Mińsk Mazowiecki COA.svg Mińsk Mazowiecki 1st Tactical Squadron MiG-29 Providing Air superiority
31st Air Base POL Poznań COA.svg Poznań 3rd Tactical Squadrons and 6th Tactical Squadrons F-16 Providing Air superiority
32nd Air Base POL Łask COA.svg Łask 10th Tactical Squadron F-16 Providing Air superiority
33rd Air Base Powidz herb.gif Powidz 14th Airlift Squadron
7th Special Operations Squadron
C-130, PZL M-28,
Special operations


Ranks and insignia[edit]

Commissioned officers[edit]

NATO Code OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1
POL Wojska Lotnicze.svg
Air Forces
Rank insignia of generał of the Air Force of Poland.svg Rank insignia of generał broni of the Air Force of Poland.svg Rank insignia of generał dywizji of the Air Force of Poland.svg Rank insignia of generał brygady of the Air Force of Poland.svg Rank insignia of pułkownik of the Air Force of Poland.svg Rank insignia of podpułkownik of the Air Force of Poland.svg Rank insignia of major of the Air Force of Poland.svg Rank insignia of kapitan of the Air Force of Poland.svg Rank insignia of porucznik of the Air Force of Poland.svg Rank insignia of podporucznik of the Air Force of Poland.svg
Generał Generał
Pułkownik Podpułkownik Major Kapitan Porucznik Podporucznik
Abbreviation gen. gen. broni gen. dyw. gen. bryg. płk ppłk mjr kpt. por. ppor.

Staff Non-commissioned officers[edit]

NATO Code OR-9 OR-8 OR-7
POL Wojska Lotnicze.svg
Air Forces
Rank insignia of starszy chorąży sztabowy of the Air Force of Poland.svg Rank insignia of starszy chorąży of the Air Force of Poland.svg Rank insignia of chorąży of the Air Force of Poland.svg Rank insignia of młodszy chorąży of the Air Force of Poland.svg
Chorąży Młodszy
Abbreviation st. chor. sztab. st. chor. chor. mł. chor.

Non-commissioned officers and privates[edit]

NATO Code OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
POL Wojska Lotnicze.svg
Air Forces
Rank insignia of starszy sierżant of the Air Force of Poland.svg Rank insignia of sierżant of the Air Force of Poland.svg Rank insignia of plutonowy of the Air Force of Poland.svg Rank insignia of starszy kapral of the Air Force of Poland.svg Rank insignia of kapral of the Air Force of Poland.svg Rank insignia of starszy szeregowy of the Air Force of Poland.svg Rank insignia of szeregowy of the Air Force of Poland.svg
Sierżant Plutonowy Starszy
Kapral Starszy
Abbreviation st. sierż. sierż. plut. st. kpr. kpr. st. szer. szer.

Qualification Badges[edit]

The current aviator badge of the Polish Air Force has been in use since the 1920s. The badge is called gapa and represents silver eagle in flight with gold laurel wreath in the bill. Navigator/Observer badge (below) represents the same eagle, but in gold with added lightning bolts. It is unlike any other in the other air forces in the world. The gapa was worn in the usual place on the upper left breast above the pocket, but with a chain. It proudly adorned the uniform of Polish Air Force officers in the RAF during World War II along with their RAF wings. In combat badges (for at least 7 flights in combat conditions) the laurel wreath is green.

Badge Pilot Pilot Observer
POL Wojska Lotnicze.svg
Air Forces
Odznaka pilota.jpg Replika odznaki pilotów.JPG Odznaka nawigatora.jpg
Pilot Pilot Observer[disambiguation needed]
Abbreviation pil. pil. obs.

Polish Air Force Tu-154 crash, 2010[edit]

On 10 April 2010 a Polish Air Force Tupolev Tu-154M aircraft crashed near Smolensk, Russia, pilot error killing all 96 passengers and crew, including the President of Poland Lech Kaczyński and his wife Maria Kaczyńska, the Chief of the General Staff of the Polish Army Franciszek Gągor, Polish Air Force commanding general Andrzej Błasik, the President of the Polish Central Bank, Sławomir Skrzypek, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, government officers, vice-speakers and members of parliament, senior military officers and senior members of clergy. They were en route from Warsaw to attend an event to mark the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre, whose site is commemorated approximately 19 km west of Smolensk.[39][40]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Military Budget 2014"
  2. ^ F-16 Fighting Falcon for Poland info page. Biuro Lockheed Martin w Polsce. Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company, Warsaw.
  3. ^ http://theaviationist.com/2013/03/11/poland-viper-center/
  4. ^ a b c History of the Polish Air Force. Polish Air Force Public Affairs Office. Retrieved November 1, 2011.
  5. ^ Wacław Stachiewicz (1998). Wierności dochować żołnierskiej. OW RYTM. ISBN 978-83-86678-71-6. 
  6. ^ http://www.rtl.put.poznan.pl/sites/files/WZLnr2Bydgoszcz.pdf
  7. ^ "Polish Air Force Unit Disbanded Due to 2010 Crash". Fox News. Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  8. ^ World Air Forces 2014 December 10, 2013
  9. ^ "Vehicle and aircraft holdings within the scope of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty 2014" May 15, 2014
  10. ^ "Poland to accelerate arms programmes". Jane's Information Group. Retrieved 31 May 2014. 
  11. ^ "Polish army on spending spree?". Polskie Radio dla Zagranicy. Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  12. ^ http://www.marshallcenter.org/mcpublicweb/MCDocs/files/College/F_Publications/occPapers/occ-paper_11-en.pdf
  13. ^ "Mikojan Gurewicz MiG-29 w Wojsku Polskim". Gdzie zaczyna się wojsko…. Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  14. ^ http://theaviationist.com/2013/03/18/polish-fulcrums/
  15. ^ Reed Business Information Limited. "PICTURE: Polish air force receives first upgraded MiG-29". Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  16. ^ "Suchoj Su-20 i Su-22 w Wojsku Polskim". Gdzie zaczyna się wojsko…. Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  17. ^ "Prezentacja Su-22 i MiG-29 - Lotnicza Polska -". Retrieved 2012-07-02. 
  18. ^ Reed Business Information Limited. "Warsaw to extend Su-22 service life". Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  19. ^ Reed Business Information Limited. "Poland to keep 18 improved Su-22s". Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  20. ^ "Su-22 będą modernizowane - Altair Agencja Lotnicza". Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  21. ^ "prototypes". PZL M28 and An-28. Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  22. ^ "2nd production series". PZL M28 and An-28. Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  23. ^ "4th production series". PZL M28 and An-28. Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  24. ^ [1],(Polish)
  25. ^ sp.mil.pl.
  26. ^ a b "Nowe nabytki Sił Powietrznych - Altair Agencja Lotnicza". Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  27. ^ "MON wybrało M-346 - Altair Agencja Lotnicza". Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  28. ^ "Poland selects Alenia Aermacchi M-346 advanced jet trainer for its Air Force". December 24, 2013. 
  29. ^ "Orlik z Garminem - Altair Agencja Lotnicza". Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  30. ^ "Diamondy dla Dęblina". Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  31. ^ "Ostatni Sokół VIP dla Sił Powietrznych - Altair Agencja Lotnicza". Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  32. ^ "Kolejne śmigłowce dla Dęblina - Altair Agencja Lotnicza". Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  33. ^ a b c d e f g h i j [2] (Polish)
  34. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n [3] (Polish)
  35. ^ Reed Business Information Limited. "PICTURE: Polish air force retires last An-2 transport". Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  36. ^ Bell 412 opuścił Okęcie. (Polish)
  37. ^ 1. Grupa Poszukiwawczo - Ratownicza w Świdwinie.
  38. ^ "Scramble". Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  39. ^ Harro Ranter (10 April 2010). "ASN Aircraft accident Tupolev 154M 101 Smolensk Air Base". Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  40. ^ "Final Report Tu-154M"

Further reading[edit]

  • Air Forces Monthly, May 1999 (for details of reorganisation from regiments into squadrons)

External links[edit]