TS-11F Iskra offered to plug Polish trainer crisis

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Poland's air force institute of technology (ITWL) displayed the technology demonstrator for a modernised PZL Mielec TS-11F Iskra jet trainer at the 8-11 September International Defence Industry Exhibition (MSPO) in Kielce.

Proposed as an enhancement to dozens of the air force's 111 airworthy but obsolete Iskras, the TS-11F could plug a capability gap until the introduction of a new-generation advanced jet trainer from early next decade. The type had been scheduled for retirement in 2009, but with the defence ministry now expected to launch a tender for the new aircraft next year, its first new trainers could now arrive at least three years later.

Key elements of the proposed TS-11F overhaul and modernisation project include replacing the Iskra's obsolete Polish-made SO-3W engine with a General Electric CJ610 turbojet, strengthening its main wing spars and rebuilding its cockpit structure to accommodate Martin Baker Mk 11 ejection seats. All structural modifications would be performed by PZL Mielec.

 
© Bartosz Glowacki

The TS-11F will also receive modern navigation and communications equipment, plus avionics modifications to include the integration of a 130 x 130mm (5 x 5in) colour multifunction display (upgraded cockpit pictured above), front head-up display and rear HUD repeater.

According to ITWL estimates, the TS-11F will have a per hour operating cost of about $1,000.

Additional reporting by Grzegorz Sobczak