Trying to look at USAF and the Polish Air Force (PAF) resembles a comparison between a Blue whale and a Dolphin and the Dolphin is here not because of it’s size but because it’s a mammal and swims in the sea.
A shrimp would be much better suited when we look at the numbers but they’re not mammals.
Leaving the animals realm and moving back to our beloved aviation. What could be the single most common thing about the two except of the thing what they do which is flying?
I’ve been reading a lot about USAF recently and it came to me that the force needs massive investments. Really massive and I wonder if the new administration will be able to fix the huge problems which slowly stockpile through the entire service.
The same goes for Poland of course when you take a magnifying glass because of it’s size. Both countries have used it’s equipment extensively. The root of this usage is different – the USAF had to fight many wars and it’s equipment got worn out and the PAF just used it’s equipment for too long. In the end the outcome is the same -both need huge investments but nowadays it is very difficult to do it rationally – you know it: politics, military industry, even more politics etc.
This can postpone many much needed changes and the problem will only arise. If we look at the USAF it badly needs new tankers, a whole bunch of them and it is highly doubtful that they can be replaced on a 1:1 basis, and the F-35 fleet will need a lot of gas to operate. The F-22 fleet is to small and there is no rationale way to make it bigger – 125 first line jets is tiny (The rest is in reserve or training). Building a 6 gen fighter right now is out of the question as the industry and Pentagon still struggle with the F-35. The strategic bombers fleet needs replacement. B-52 are still kicking and doing their job but this can’t last forever. B-2 will eventually get a replacement but the time frame might stretch just like with the F-35. The fast jet fleet is worn out due to too many wars it had to fight. It needs modernization just to stay alive before the F-35 come to the play which might take a while. An ax is still hanging above the A-10 and the list goes on.
The same is with PAF. Su-22 need a replacement since 10 or more years, MiG-29 as well, the F-16 fleet is only 48 strong and it’s tasks grow every year. The good thing is that they are modernized and their “punch” capabilities grow steadily but with this growth grows the amount of tasks and there are only 48 of them and no new fast jets on the horizon. The C-130 fleet is very old – and I mean very very old. It was old when it was handed Poland from the USAF. We also need helicopters, and a lot of them, much more than the government programs assume. Only the C-295 fleet is in good shape.
As you can see the similarities are big – both look like twins for me. Everywhere I look there is a need for a huge amount of money and quick replacement which isn’t shining on the horizon…