Poland to Receive C-130Hs, Announces F-35 Base

 - April 15, 2021, 9:33 AM
Poland’s existing five C-130Es have been used for a number of humanitarian missions, including supply flights to Lebanon. (Photo: Polish MOD)

Poland’s Minister of National Defense, Mariusz Blaszczak, announced that the country’s air force will receive five Lockheed Martin C-130H Hercules turboprops. They are former U.S. Air Force (USAF) aircraft currently held in storage and are being acquired under the Excess Defense Articles scheme. The government-to-government deal was signed on April 13 and follows a letter of request that was submitted by Poland in September 2019.

The aircraft are currently in open storage with the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group facility adjacent to Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, Arizona, having been retired from USAF service in 2017. Once they have been taken out of mothballs they will be refurbished and have some new equipment installed before delivery. The first is due to be handed over before the end of 2021, with the last due for delivery in 2024.

In Polish air force service, they will operate from the 33. Bazy Lotnictwa Transportowego (transport aviation base) at Powidz and will join five used C-130Es that were bought in 2012. The new aircraft are 15 years younger than the current fleet.

Two days before the C-130 announcement, Minister Blaszczak also confirmed that Poland’s new Lockheed Martin F-35A fleet will be based at the 32. Baza Lotnictwa Taktycznego (tactical air base) at Lask, which currently houses a squadron of F-16C/Ds. Work to install the required infrastructure for F-35 operations is to begin soon, with the first aircraft expected to arrive in Poland in 2026 following a period of training activity in the U.S.

Poland signed for 32 F-35As in January 2020 in answer to its Harpia new fighter requirement, the deal also covering the training of 24 pilots, including instructors. The group has just completed an initial course of simulator training with the USAF at Luke AFB in Arizona.

Lask is also home to Detachment 2 of the 52nd Expeditionary Operations Group, a USAF unit flying the General Atomics MQ-9A Reaper. This deployment was a result of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, signed by presidents Trump and Duda in August 2020. These aircraft are in addition to the contractor-owned, contractor-operated Reapers that first began operations from Miroslawiec in May 2018.