Polish Air Force authorities have ordered all of the Soviet-made MiG-29 jets grounded pending an investigation
According The New York Times a MiG-29 military jet crashed during a night flight in the country’s north and the Polish Air Force pilot was killed despite ejecting before the crash, Poland’s defense officials said Friday.
The Defense Ministry said the jet crashed at 1:57 a.m. in fields near the town of Paslek during an interception exercise. Video from private broadcaster TVN showed the wreckage lying in a grain field, covered with firefighting foam. The body of the 33-year-old pilot, whose name was not released, was found a few hundred meters (yards) away.
The jet was stationed at the 22nd Tactical Air Base in the town of Malbork and the experienced pilot had some 800 hours of flight time.
Polish Air Force authorities have ordered all of the Soviet-made MiG-29 jets grounded pending an investigation.
The first 12 MiG-29s (nine MiG-29As, three MiG-29UB) were delivered to Poland in 1989–1990. The aircraft were based at Mińsk Mazowiecki and used by the 1st Fighter Aviation Regiment, which was reorganized in 2001 as 1 Eskadra Lotnictwa Taktycznego (1. elt), or 1st Tactical Squadron (TS). In 1995–1996, 10 used examples were acquired from the Czech Republic (nine MiG-29As, one MiG-29UB). After the retirement of its MiG-23s in 1999, and MiG-21s in 2004, Poland was left for a time with only these 22 MiG-29s in the interceptor role.
Of the 22 MiG-29s Poland received from the German Air Force in 2004, a total of 14 of these were overhauled and taken into service. They were used to equip the 41st Tactical Squadron (41. elt), replacing its MiG-21s. Polish Air Force’s MiG-29s are stationed with the 1st Tactical Squadron at the 23rd Air Base near Mińsk Mazowiecki and the 41st TS at the 22nd Air Base near Malbork.
On Sep. 7, 2011 the Polish Air Force awarded a contract to the WZL 2 company to modernise its MiG-29 fleet to be compatible with the service F-16s.
Four MiG-29s from 1. elt performed Baltic Air Policing Quick Reaction Alert mission in 2006, while 41. elt aircraft in 2008, 2010 and 2012. Polish MiG-29s played the aggressor role in NATO Tactical Leadership Programme (TLP) joint training program in Albacete, Spain in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
On Dec. 18, 2017, a MiG-29 crash landed in a forest near 23rd Air Base while performing a landing approach. The pilot survived. Reports afterward were contradictory whether he ejected or not. On Dec. 21, 2017, the MoD confirmed that the pilot did not eject. This was the first crash of a MiG-29 during its nearly 3 decades long operational history in the Polish Air Force.
Photo credit: AP Photo/TVN24 via U.S.News