On the 15th of November two M-346 trainers have landed in Poland. Although they will not be used right away as they have to pass the normal delivery tests many here have said: finally.
One thing is for sure. Poland needs training aircraft badly, as the TS-11 Iskra were supposed to be replaced by Iryda aircraft, a Polish training machine which never left the development phase. That means that we have a one generation gap to fill. The M-346 will allow to train our F-16 pilots in Poland which is a very good information. Less money spent on abroad training means more money for next procurement’s and modernization. Even if the cost will even it is better to leave the money here. This is plain economics.
Looks great! Right? Wrong! I may sound like I repeat myself but what can I do? When the situation changes I will write about something else.
48 F-16 is far from enough. Su-22 are basically good for maintaining a very well trained personnel and for retaining pilot skills. That would be it. On a modern battle field they can not make any significant difference. There are also the aging MiG-29 but that problem isn’t that big.
Let’s focus on the Su-22 because their replacement is a top priority. A weaponed version of training aircraft could compensate the Su-22 but for some reasons the former MOD didn’t make that decision. Of course the cost of training aircraft which are combat capable would be bigger but let’s face it. There are no signs of new multi-role aircraft right now so the described above problem is still a case. It is obvious that training aircraft will never be as capable as regular multi role fighters but they could be here in full force in 2018/2019. That would be something! Wouldn’t it?
If we will have a quick purchase program for another batch of F-16’s or any other aircraft I can live with the decision of aircraft used mainly for training purpose. Unfortunately Poland has a lot of equipment to replace or buy just to keep up with global military changes and the future for the air force doesn’t look good. The F-16 pilots say that they fly more and more. They can not be in two places at the same time so at some point hard decisions will have to be made.
To sum things up. Great news for the training program, still no good news if we look at offensive capabilities.
Photo: DGRSZ / Marta Serafin