The February issue of Combat Aircraft is all about the last Su-22 ‘Fitter’ base in Europe — the Polish Air Force’s 21. BLT at Świdwin, as well as going on exercise and reporting on how the fleet is kept alive and kicking through the WZL-2 plant at Bydgoszcz.
The first of 110 Sukhoi Su-22 ‘Fitters’ was delivered to Poland some 30 years ago and the aircraft have now been part of NATO planning for 20 years. Much speculation has surrounded the future of the type, which is operated on the Polish front line alongside two bases of MiG-29s and a batch of F-16C/D Block 52+ Fighting Falcons. However, such is the ‘bang for the buck’ offered by the type that it was decided to extend the service life with a mid-life upgrade (MLU), undertaken by the WZL-2 plant at Bydgoszcz.
Of the 32 Su-22s remaining in Polish operation at the time, it was decided in 2014 that just 18 would undergo the MLU (12 single-seaters and six two-seaters). The modest upgrade consists of new cockpit avionics, a new radio and flight recorder, as well as a new two-tone gray camouflage pattern. The 18 jets also have their engines overhauled by WZL-4 in Warsaw.
For more on the ‘Fitters’ by author Rich Cooper, don’t miss our latest issue.