Polish Air Force VIP Unit Formally Disbanded
The Polish Air Force's VIP unit, the 36th Special Air Transport Regiment, was formally disbanded on January 3 in a ceremony at Warsaw Airport.
Polish Air Force/36 SPLT Tu-154M 102, seen here on June 11, 2011, was withdrawn from use following the decision to disband the Air Force's VIP unit in the wake of the findings of the report into the crash of sistership 101 on April 10, 2010. Key Archive
A FORMAL ceremony was held at Warsaw Okecie Airport, Poland, on January 3 to mark the official disbandment of the Polish Air Force’s VIP transport unit, the 36th Specjalnego Pułku Lotnictwa Transportowego (SPLT – Special Air Transport Regiment) ‘Obrońców Warszawy’.
Poland’s Defence Minister, Tomasz Siemoniak, had announced on August 4, 2011, that the 36th SPLT would be disbanded as a result of the findings of the investigation into the loss of one of the unit’s Tupolev Tu-154Ms that crashed on April 10, 2010, in Smolensk, Russia, killing all 96 on board. Fatalities included the country’s President, his wife and various major political and high-ranking military leaders.
The official report into the crash cited poor pilot training, bad weather and faulty instructions from Russian air traffic controllers as factors in the accident. As the report put most of the blame on Polish officials and procedures, this led to the resignation of Polish Defence Minister Bogdan Klich on July 28, 2011. His newly-appointed replacement also announced that three generals and ten other officers responsible for training of Air Force pilots were being dismissed from service.
The 36 SPLT had originally been formed in 1945. In addition to Tu-154Ms, the unit’s complement includes Embraer 175s, PZL M28B Bryza PT/CDs and Yak-40s, plus Bell 412EP, Mi-8P/S/T and W-3P/T Sokol helicopters. Since the announcement last August, government VIPs have been flown by national commercial airline LOT.
Filed Under Military Aviation News.
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