After 15 years of operation, Poland’s 48-strong Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Block 52+ Fighting Falcon fleet has surpassed 100,000 flight hours – marking a key historic milestone for the multi-role fighter in Polish service.
Poland’s F-16C/D Block 52+ Fighting Falcon fleet marked this key milestone in May 2021, but it was later confirmed and celebrated in a press release from the US Air Force Life Cycle Management Center on June 10. The platform entered operational service with the Sily Powietrzne Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej (SPRP, Polish Air Force) in November 2006, with the air arm accepting 36 single-seat F-16Cs and 12 two-seat F-16Ds in total. AirForces Intelligence data confirms that – to date – no Polish F-16C/Ds have been lost to attrition or withdrawn from service.
Lt Col Pawel Pogorzelski, the F-16 Polish Foreign Liaison Officer (FLO), celebrated the recently passed milestone, while highlighting the work of the Polish air and ground crews. “This completion of 100,000 flight hours proves the high quality, competence, and dedication of Polish airmen. The Polish F-16 aircraft has triggered enthusiasm and ambition of airmen, who have successfully implemented tactics, techniques, and procedures vital for full interoperability with the US Air Force (USAF) and NATO partners.
“The Polish F-16 programme is a critical asset [for] providing stability in the Central-Eastern Europe region and protecting the air domain of the NATO east flank. The fleet is full operational and ready to fulfil all required tasks on behalf of Poland and [the] NATO alliance,” he added.
This year also marks the 20th anniversary since the Polish government selected the F-16C/D Block 52+ to replace its ageing fleet of Cold War-era Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 (NATO reporting name: Fishbed) fighters. The decision made Poland the first former Warsaw Pact nation to operate the Fighting Falcon. The Polish Air Force selected the type over the Dassault Mirage 2000 and Saab JAS-39 Gripen, which were also in consideration to replace the matured MiG-21s.
Since the multi-role fighter entered Polish service in November 2006, examples from the fleet have participated in multiple multinational exercises and operational deployments. With relation to the latter, Poland’s F-16C/D fleet has supported NATO’s Baltic Air Policing initiative, as well as Operation Inherent Resolve – the US-led multinational coalition flight against Islamic State in Iraq, Syria and Libya.