Polish Air Force Acquires M-346 Training Certification for F-16 & F-35 Aircraft

Photo Credit: Polish Air Force
Photo Credit: Polish Air Force

WARSAW – Training on the Leonardo (Alenia Aermacchi) M-346 Bielik aircraft may replace the one conducted in the USA on T-38C, American pilots confirm.

This decision will benefit future Polish pilots of F-16 and F-35 planes, who will not have to fly to the USA for training.

Thanks to the certificate, in the future pilots from Slovakia or Bulgaria, may also be trained in Poland – multiple Polish media outlets have reported.

41st Training Air Base in Deblin (41 BLSz) received a certificate from the United States Air Force which confirms that the Polish system of training F-16 pilots on M-346 Bielik is equivalent to the American training on T-38C to the level of Introduction for Fighter Fundamentals (IFF).

The Americans have also determined that the certificate meets the requirements to direct pilots to train on the F-35. The certification took place at the end of last year in Deblin and lasted a week.

“A team of several U.S. Air Force pilots representing both combat and training aviation came to us and very scrupulously checked how we train,” says Major Mariusz Fischer, the M-346 Bielik instructor.

American pilots started their examination of the Polish training system with theoretical classes, which are conducted with the future F-16 pilots. They evaluated, among others, the didactic skills of instructors responsible for this part of training.

Then, they observed training on the M-346 flight simulator and all the stages of training in the air – mission planning, briefing, a task in the air, and debriefing. –

“The Americans also assessed our infrastructure in terms of its functionality, number of available aircraft, and simulators. They also analyzed the training documentation and the flight safety system”, explains Major Fischer.

The conclusions from the American analysis were positive. – We met the requirements set by the United States for training pilots of the fourth and fifth-generation aircraft.

This is a great success for our staff – admits the M-346 instructor.

“The Americans also highly evaluated the M-346 aircraft itself – Our allies also gave us high marks for the training documentation and instructors’ skills.”

“The element requiring improvement is the number of simulators. These are very modern devices, but their inadequate number in relation to the aircraft fleet acquired under the contract may have an impact on maintaining the planned rhythm of training.”

Acquisition of an additional simulator seems to be necessary to achieve the required capacity of the system”, adds Maj. Fischer.

Certification of the Bielik training system is a milestone in the construction of the combat aircraft pilot training system because at least part of the future pilots will be able to train in Poland, and not – as so far – overseas.

It is also a chance for Deblin and 41st Training Air Base and Polish Military Academy to become a training center for pilots from countries in our part of Europe, such as Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, and maybe even Ukraine.

Thanks to the certificate the countries that do not plan to develop their own training infrastructure will be able to train pilots in Poland.

“We have something to be proud of. M-346 is one of those aviation training systems that are characterized by a high coefficient of efficiency, reliability, and safety.”

“We are able to effectively and comprehensively prepare pilots to perform tasks on modern combat platforms. Of course, for us, the priority is to develop and secure our own training needs. But I am sure that in the near future we will use our infrastructure and skills to train pilots from other countries”, summarized Fischer.

41st Training Air Base in Deblin M-346 fleet consists now of 12 planes. Four another will join the base in the coming months.

As a result, the fleet of AJT training aircraft will consist of 16 aircraft, which will significantly increase training capabilities at the Deblin base.

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Piotr Bozyk

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