Polish Air Force
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Air Force

Current Title: Sily Powietrzne Rzeczpospolitej Polskiej
Title in English: Polish Air Force
Abbreviation: SPRP


Narrative Summary:
During the First World War, numerous Poles had been drafted into the air arms of the three occupying powers (Russia, Austria and Germany), and Polish flying units had been set up in these three countries and France. On 19th August 1917, a Polish aviation unit was incorporated into the Polish Army Corps, which had been formed with the agreement if the pre-revolutionary Russian government. After the Russian revolution this unit was dissolved.
Another aviation unit was formed in October 1918 in territory held by White Russian forces, and this then made its way to Poland. The Poles also seized a number of air bases from the retreating Austrian and German armies, and began assembling a single co-ordinated air arm. In the meantime, a group of Polish aviators had begun training in France in the Summer of 1918. Flying French supplied aircraft, this group arrived in Poland in June 1919. On 29th September 1919 the air force was officially established. The air force subsequently played a vital role in stalling the Soviet offensive of August 1920. In the peace that followed, the air force was completely reorganised and expanded.
In 1938 the air force became independent of the army, but remained a defensive force principally dedicated to army support. In late August 1939, with tensions between Poland and Germany reaching crisis point, the air force secretly deployed all combat units to pre-assigned emergency airfields around the country. The Luftwaffe's first airfield strikes on 1st September 1939 were thus largely ineffective, but the technical and numerical superiority of the German forces soon wore down the Polish resistance. On 17th September 1939, surviving Polish aircraft escaped to Romania. Many Polish aircrews then fled to France and Britain.
The combat record of the fourteen Polish-manned squadrons in the Royal Air Force throughout World War Two was outstanding. During 1942 Polish units were also formed within the Soviet Air Force and these operated in support of units liberating Poland. In mid 1945 some of the ex-RAF crews returned home, but most were barred from joining the new Polish air force which was then being assembled around the former Soviet units. The new communist controlled force included many Soviet personnel and advisors. In October 1956 all Russians personnel seconded to the the air force were withdrawn. A separate missile-based Air Defence Force, independent of the air force, was later set up, along the lines of the Soviet PVO. In 1990 the air force and the air defence force were merged into a single force.

Key Dates:
1945    Polish Air Force re-established
1956    First helicopters received
1950    First jet aircraft received
1990    Air Defence Force and Air Force merged
1999    Poland joins NATO

Current Status:
To be added

Future Plans:
Take delivery of 48 F-16C/D Block 52 from July 2006 to 2009.
40 Su-22s to receive structural and avionics upgrade to extend their life until 2015.
Replacement of Iskra by 2008. This is likely to be a licence-built new jet trainer such as the Hawk, Yak-120, MiG-AT or L-159. Around 50 aircraft are required. Alternatively, Poland could join the NFTC in Canada.
Four new VIP transports are required from 2006.


National Insignia:
Current --- Historical

Aircraft Serial Numbering System(s):

The Polish military serial numbering system consists of a two, three or four figure number taken from part of the aircraft's individual construction number, e.g. MiG-21PFM 6910.


Aircraft Designation System(s):
None - Manufacturers designations used.

Current Aircraft Inventory:
Table of Current Service Aircraft

All-Time Aircraft Used List:
Alphabetical Order --- Chronological Order

Aircraft NOT Used:
False reports of aircraft on order or in service


Main Headquarters:

Current Organisational Structure:
The SPRP is organised into two Corps, each comprising one or two Brygada Lotnictwa Taktycznego (BLT) - Tactical Aviation Brigades. The Brigades consist of Eskadry Lotnictwa Taktycznego (ELT) - Tactical Aviation Squadrons.

Current Order of Battle:
Table of Current Order of Battle

Historical Orders of Battle:
List of Historical Orders of Battle - to be added.

All-Time Flying Units List:
To be added.

Air Bases

Current Air Bases:
The main air bases currently used are Bydgoszcz, Deblin-Irena, Krakow-Balice, Lask, Malbork, Minsk-Mazowiecki, Miroslawiec, Poznan-Krzesiny, Powidz, Radom-Sadkow, Swidwin-Smardzko, Warsaw-Okecie and Wroclaw-Strachowice.

All-Time Air Bases Used List:
In addition to the main bases, there are also a number of smaller airports and airfields around the country which are sometimes used by the Air Force.
Military Air Bases Listing - to be added.

More Information


Polish Military Aviation Bibliography - to be added.


World Air Power Journal No.3 p.144


Polish Air Force Official Website

wikipedia: Polish Air Force

Scramble: Polish Air Arms



Air-Britain Photos: Polish Air Force

Polish Air Force 1945-47

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First Created: 3 June 2000 - Last Revised: 5 July 2008
Copyright 2000 John Hayles.    e-mail: john@aeroflight.co.uk