Special Report : Polish Air Force Su-22 Fitters at Istrana
In 2007, Polish Su-22 Fitters deployed once again to Italy as part of a NATO squadron exchange between the two air forces. Giampaolo Tonello reports.
After last year's squadron exchange (see Polish Air Force Su-22 Fitters at Amendola), which was the first between the Areonautica Militare Italiana (AMI - Italian Air Force) and the Sily Powietrzne (Polish Air Force), 2007 saw the Polish Fitters again operating from an Italian air base. This time it was Istrana AB, home of the 51° Stormo hosting the 103° and 132° Gruppo. Both squadrons are equipped with the AMX.
From June 29th until July 12th three Su-22M4 single-seaters and one Su-22UM3K two-seaters from 7 ELT (7 Eskadry Lotnictwa Taktyczego - 7th Tactical Fighter Squadron) operated together with both the 103° and 132° Gruppo flying operational training missions such as DACT (Dissimilar Air Combat Training) and CAS (Close Air Support), in support of integration of NATO standards in the Polish Air Force. Two missions were flown daily, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
During the squadron exchange one of the Polish pilots reached 1,000 hours flying the Su-22 and a little “shower” awaited him on his return to base.
The 7 ELT is based at Powidz and is equipped with single-seat Su-22M4 'Fitter-K' and two-seat SU-22UM3K 'Fitter-G' conversion trainers. Some of the former 6 ELT Su-22s are still flown by 7 ELT, retaining the old 6 ELT badge on fin as the seen on the two-seater. 6 ELT is currently undergoing conversion to the new F-16C/D Block 52+ having moved to Poznan-Krzesiny AB. The 'Fitters' are scheduled to fly until 2010-2012 and then the unit will become a transport squadron flying the C-130 Hercules.
Report by Giampaolo Tonello. Photos by Giampaolo Tonello and Daniele Dotto
Last Modified: 1 April 2013