PZL W-3 Sokół

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W-3 Sokół
Sokół wersja W-3.jpg
Role Multipurpose utility helicopter
National origin Poland
Manufacturer PZL-Świdnik
First flight 16 November 1979
Status In service
Primary users Polish Armed Forces
Czech Air Force
Philippine Air Force
Produced 1986-present
Number built 149 (as of 2011)[1]

The PZL W-3 Sokół (en: Falcon) is a Polish medium-size, twin-engine, multipurpose helicopter manufactured by PZL-Świdnik (now AgustaWestland Świdnik).


PZL W-3 fourth prototype

The W-3 Sokół ('Falcon') is the first helicopter to be fully designed and serial-built in Poland.

Work on the project was started at WSK PZL Świdnik in 1973 by the team of Stanisław Kamiński. The Sokół made its first flight on 16 November 1979, and has since been certificated in Poland, Russia, the US and Germany. It was designed to meet the demands of a military and civilian aviation of the Soviet Union, which was planned to be its major user. Following a development program, low rate production of the Sokół commenced during 1985. Certification to US FAR Pt 29 standards was granted in May 1993, while German certification was granted in December of that year.

The Sokół is of conventional design and construction, with two PZL-10W turboshaft engines, which are based on the PZL-10S – licensed Russian designed TVD-10B turboprops that power the Polish-built An-28. Composites are used in the three-bladed tail and four-bladed main rotors.

The Sokół is offered in a number of variants and is capable of performing a typical range of helicopter missions, including passenger transport, VIP, cargo, EMS, medevac, firefighting and search and rescue.

The 100th Sokół was completed in June 1996, one of the most recent version is the W-3PL Gluszec.

Operational history[edit]


Since 2003, four W-3WA helicopters were used by the Independent Air Attack Group (Polish: Samodzielna Grupa Powietrzno-Szturmowa) of the Polish forces in Iraq. In total eight helicopters were deployed until 2008. One of them crashed in an accident near Karbala on 15 December 2004.


Civil versions[edit]

Civil production versions.[2][3]

W-3 Sokół
Basic civil multi-purpose version, 30 built (excluding prototypes).
W-3A Sokół
Version with FAR-29 certificate. At least 9 civil helicopters built.
W-3AS Sokół
W-3 airframe converted to W-3A standard, 22 converted.
W-3A2 Sokół
Version with two-axis Smith SN 350 autopilot, one built.
W-3AM Sokół
Civil version with floats, 13 built.
W-3 Erka
Ambulance variant, one built in 1988

Military versions[edit]

W-3WA – armed version during Airshow 2005 in Radom
PZL W-3RM Anakonda of Polish Navy
PZL W-3PL Głuszec of Polish Land Forces

Military production versions.[2]

W-3 / W-3T / W-3P Sokół
Basic (unarmed) transport/passenger variant used by Polish Air Force (6), Navy (2) and Myanmar Air Force (13, inc. two for VIP).[3]
W-3A Sokół
Military transport variant of the W-3A version used by Czech (11) and Philippine Air Force (8). Some of the Czech helicopters were modified for the emergency medical services. Filipino examples can carry M60 machine gun on each side.[4] Iraqi Air Force returned two VIP-configured Sokół to the intermediary company after cancelling the order.[5]
W-3P/S/A VIP Sokół
VIP transport version used by Polish Air Force. Eight built.[3][6]
W-3W/WA Sokół
Armed version, with twin 23 mm GSz-23Ł cannon and four pylons for weapons used by Polish Land Forces. W-3WA is a variant with FAR-29 certificate. 34 built.[3]
W-3AE Sokół
Medical evacuation version used by Polish Land Forces (AE for "Aero Ewakuacja"). Three W-3WA upgraded.[7]
W-3R Sokół
Medical evacuation version used by Polish Air Force. Two built.[3]
W-3RL Sokół
Land search and rescue version used by Polish Air Force. Six built.[3]
W-3RM / W-3WARM Anakonda
"Anakonda" (en: "Anaconda") Navalized search and rescue version used by Polish Navy. W-3WARM is a variant with FAR-29 certificate. Eight built.[3]
W-3PSOT / W-3PPD Gipsówka
"Gipsówka" (en: "Gypsophila") W-3PPD was a flying command centre variant (PPD stands for "Powietrzny Punkt Dowodzenia" – "Airborne Command Post"). In 2006 this variant received new digital battlefield (after modernization helicopter is able to guide artillery equipped with Topaz fire control system) and observation systems and was adopted by Polish Land Forces Aviation under new name W-3PSOT (PSOT stands for "Powietrzne Stanowisko Obserwacji Terenu" – "Airborne Observation Post"). This variant is equipped with pylons for weapons (same like in W-3W) but has no 23 mm fixed cannon. One built.
W-3RR Procjon
"Procjon" (en: "Procyon") is a radioelectronic reconnaissance version (RR stands for "Rozpoznanie Radioelektroniczne" – "Radioelectronic Reconnaissance"). Three built.[3]
W-3PL Głuszec
"Głuszec" (en: "Capercaillie") is a PZL W-3WA upgrade program to bring armed variant of Sokół up to 21st century standards by including advanced avionic systems (in Glass cockpit configuration) and other changes like FADEC-equipped engines. Avionics include two 10″ MFD displays, single tactical display (maps and Elbit Toplite FLIR), INS/GPS, TACAN, VOR/ILS, DME navigation, HUD, IFF, PNL-3 night vision goggles, HOCAS (Hands on Colective and Stick) control, infrared and radar warning receiver, MIL-STD-1553B data link.[8] Twin 23 mm cannon was replaced by single pilot's controlled 12,7 mm WKM-Bz machine gun with 350 rounds. Designed for Combat Search and Rescue duties.[9] The first prototype (s/n: 360901) was tested by the Land Forces aviation in 2009. Eight W-3WA are to be upgraded.[3][10]

Prototypes and proposals[edit]

Prototypes and proposals that were not adopted by armed forces.[2]

W-3B Jastrząb
Proposed armed version with tandem-seat cabin and guided AT rockets.
W-3K/W-3WB Huzar
Proposed armed version with guided ZT3 Ingwe ATGM, FLIR and 20 mm GA-1 cannon with helmet-mounted sight. Modification by Kentron (Denel) company in 1993 tested in South Africa. Some elements like hardpoint were used in serial W-3W/W-3WA variant. One built.
W-3L Sokół Long
Proposed stretched version seating up to 14 passengers, mockup only.
W-3MS/W-3WS Sokół
Proposed gunship version.
W-3U Salamandra
Armed version, with avionics and armament from Mi-24W. Only one built, later converted into transport variant and sold to Myanmar.
W-3U-1 Aligator
Proposed anti-submarine version.
Proposed navalised version of W-3PL with folding rotor, radar, dipping sonar, air-to-surface missiles and torpedoes.[11]


Czech Air Force PZL W-3A, SAR version
A Philippine Air Force W-3A Sokol on combat helicopter paint scheme before transferring to search and rescue role.
 Czech Republic

Specifications (W-3A)[edit]

Data from Jane's All The World's Aircraft 2003–2004[21][22]

General characteristics


See also[edit]

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era


  1. ^ Lorencowicz, Wojciech. Pierwszy śmigłowiec Sokół w Ameryce Południowej (First Sokół helicopter in South America) in: Lotnictwo 2-3/2011, p.30-32 (in Polish)
  2. ^ a b c Wersje W-3 Sokół. lotniczapolska.pl
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i PZL W-3 Sokół production list. gdziewojsko.wordpress.com
  4. ^ http://www.zambotimes.com/archives/news/66961-All-PAF-W-3A-Sokols-operational.html
  5. ^ Grzegorz Hołdanowicz: Raport WTO - 12/2006. Altair
  6. ^ Sokół W-3WA VIP po oblocie. Altair
  7. ^ PZL-Swidnik to modernise Polish army W-3s.
  8. ^ e-RAPORT MSPO 0/2007. Altair
  9. ^ W-3PL mon.gov.pl
  10. ^ PZL-Świdnik Signs Contracts For Five New Helicopters and 14 Helicopter Upgrades With The Polish Ministry of National Defence. pzl.swidnik.pl
  11. ^ PZL-Świdnik SA Starts Development of the W-3PL/N Naval Helicopter.
  12. ^ "World Air Forces 2014" (PDF). flightglobal.com. Retrieved 14 February 2014. 
  13. ^ W-3A dla Algierii. altair.com.pl
  14. ^ "CONAF ENAJENARÁ HELICOPTERO SW-3A SOKOL". aviaciontotal.cl. Retrieved 26 February 2013. 
  15. ^ "Aviación ejecutiva llega a su madurez en FIDAE 2012". gacetaeronautica.com. Retrieved 26 February 2013. 
  16. ^ a b c d e f "World Air Forces 2013" (PDF). Flightglobal Insight. 2013. Retrieved 26 February 2013. 
  17. ^ Jackson 2003, p. 341.
  18. ^ e-RAPORT MSPO 1/2011. Altair
  19. ^ Policja.pl
  20. ^ DefenceWeb, . (15 July 2014). "Uganda Orders W-3A, A109 Helicopters". DefenceWeb.Co.Za (DefenceWeb). Retrieved 16 July 2014. 
  21. ^ Jackson 2003, pp. 340–342.
  22. ^ W-3A technical data. pzl.swidnik.pl
  23. ^ fuselage length
  • Jackson, Paul. Jane's All The World's Aircraft 2003–2004. Coulsdon, UK: Jane's Information Group. ISBN 0-7106-2537-5.

External links[edit]