Polish Air Force maritime exercise

FOR THE FIRST time in the history of the current Polish Air Force (PAF), joint naval and air force manoeuvres were undertaken during the last week of May in Exercise Karat 94 on the land/sea range at Wicko Morskie in the western part of the Polish Baltic Sea coast. The aim of the exercise was to combat a hypothetical enemy amphibious force assault on Poland and marked the first lime PAF aircraft had been used against sea-borne targets.

Formations of Su-20 Fitters from the 7th Recce-Bomber Regiment at Powidz were used for mine-laying, while Su-22M-4s from the 40th Fighter-Bomber Regiment at Swidwin attacked ‘enemy shipping’ with 80mm S-8 unguided rockets and 1,100lb (500kg) parachute-retarded bombs from very low altitude. Top cover for the strike formations was provided by MiG-21s and MiG-29s from the 1st Fighter Regiment at Minsk Mazowiecki. These aircraft intercepted ‘enemy air activity’ simulated by drones launched from Polish Navy ships and CP-100 targets dropped by Su-22s.

In the final phase, Mi-24s from the 56th Combat Helicopter Regiment at Inowroclaw used their AT-6 Spiral anti-tank missiles for the first time against sea targets. Aircraft used live munitions in the exercise, which also involved a shore battery from 3 Anti-aircraft Missile Brigade, normally responsible for Warsaw area defence, which fired live Volkhov and Neva medium-range missiles, together with Osa short-range missiles at drones launched from ships 19 miles (30km) off the beach.

Use of the Wicko Morskie range is estimated to have cut PAF live weapons training costs to one tenth of the previous figures as all WarPac countries formerly had to use Soviet Union ranges in central Asia. The cost has also been reduced by income from the Czech Air Force, although the Hungarian Air Force has abandoned its plans to use the range during 1994 due to lade of funds.

Wojciech Luczak

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