Polish Air Force F-16s Carry Out First Intercept during ‘PKW Orlik 10’ Baltic Air Policing Rotation

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The Russian Il-20 intercepted by the Polish Air Force over the Baltic. (Image Credit: Polish Air Force/NATO Aircom)

The Polish Vipers have intercepted a Russian Il-20 spyplane over the Baltic.

The Polish Air Force has carried out its first intercept during the current Baltic Air Policing rotation, involving the F-16 “Jastrząb” aircraft. The aircraft intercepted by the Polish Vipers was a Russian Il-20 Coot platform. According to the information released by the Air Force, the intercept was made during a routine training sortie (referred to as Tango Scramble), on Dec. 7, 2021. The sortie turned into an Alpha Scramble, when the jets were redirected to identify an unidentified aircraft that was then IDed as an Il-20M ELINT (Electronic Intelligence) aircraft.

“This was the first Alpha Scramble for Polish detachment, called “Orlik 10‘, and it was an excellent opportunity to confirm the uniformity of procedures, detachment’s operational readiness and its interoperability with other NATO components”, said Polish Detachment Commander Lt Col Paweł Stajniak.

As the Russians did not file in a flight plan and did not make contact with the ATC, an intercept was required. The intruder was first escorted by the Poles, and then it was taken over by the Belgian Air Component’s F-16s stationed in Ämari, Estonia.

File photo of a Polish Air Force F-16, assigned to the 32nd Tactical Air Base, taking off at Łask Air Base, Poland, August 20, 2020. (Image credit: USAF)

“The mission was successfully conducted in accordance with Baltic Air Policing rules of engagement and other pertaining regulations” said Polish Detachment Commander Lt Col Paweł Stajniak.

The PKW Orlik 10 deployment began on Dec. 1, 2021. The Polish detachment is formed by around 150 soldiers, most of whom come from the Poznan-Krzesiny 31st Tactical Airbase. Polish assets are stationed at Siaullai, and this is the third BAP rotation for the Polish Vipers. Previously the Polish Air Force had been deploying its MiG-29 Fulcrums to the area.

The first Polish BAP rotation took place back in 2006.

Standing contributor for TheAviationist. Aviation photojournalist. Co-Founder of DefensePhoto.com. Expert in linguistics, Cold War discourse, Cold War history and policy and media communications.

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