Just a few days ago I wrote about the Polish M-346 and my concerns connected with this aircraft and the future of the Polish Air Force in general. I really thought that everything will work out well but… There is always a but. On last Friday a news broke that the delivered M-346 are not fully functional.
An anonymous staff officer told PAP (Polish press agency) that not all of the systems work as expected. One of the key features of Bielik (Polish name for M-346 Master; Bielik is an eagle living in Poland) was the ability to simulate armament. The amount of real armament is very limited and carried in pods. I could not get answers about the specific package for Poland which is bought and works “out of the box” right now (If I get some official replies I will post them here). The simulation feature is a part of the training package and it is supposed to help to train new pilots which will fly the F-16. Leonardo (former AleniaAermacchi) could have some problems with this configuration as not every weapon is used by Italian Army. But… that is the problem of Leonardo not the Polish army. It has bought a specific equipment with a specific armament / simulation package and it doesn’t work.
The window for fixing this is tight and practically it is impossible to meet the date as the tests will last until the 30 of November and that is the dead line. This means that there will be some penalty and according to the contract it is calculated considering the whole sum of the deal which is 1,17 billion PLN. The media in Poland report that the “fix” could be implemented even in summer 2017 which means quite a big fine for Leonardo and… possibly some delays for the Polish army and the training process.