PICTURE: Polish air force receives first upgraded MiG-29

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Poland's WZL-2 Military Aviation Works has delivered its first upgraded RAC MiG-29 to the nation's air force.

According to a refurbishment and overhaul agreement signed in August 2011, the military depot will modernise 13 single-seat MiG-29A fighters and three MiG-29UB trainers, assigned to the 23rd air base in Minsk Mazowiecki. Worth 126 million zlotych ($40 million) and being performed in co-operation with Israel Aerospace Industries, the deal also includes the provision of logistics support and training for pilots and technicians.

The first modernised MiG-29A was flown on 15 March, with 10 sorties logged during a test campaign by 24 April. The process included three Polish air force pilots, who performed avionics checks during day and night flights and conducted strafing tests with the aircraft's cannon.

polish air force mig-29 bartosz glowacki

 Bartosz Glowacki  

Accepted on 4 July, the same aircraft was returned to Minsk Mazowiecki on 29 July, by which time eight pilots and 57 technicians had completed their training. A second aircraft should be delivered in late August, with the remainder to arrive by August 2014. The first of the modernised trainers should be flown next January, and delivered from mid-year.

A new open architecture avionics suite includes a multifunction colour display, mission computer, INS/GPS navigation, up-front control panel, digital video recorder and databus, plus a Rockwell Collins RT-8200 UHF/VHF radio. WZL-2 also provides a new briefing and debriefing system, developed in conjunction with IAI's Lahav unit.

Total airframe life is extended to 40 years, or 4,000 flight hours.

Poland's air force wants to continue operating the MiG-29 until 2028. It currently has 31 examples, with 15 of these assigned to its 22nd air base in Malbork.