THE POLISH AIR FORCE has taken delivery of its first two PZL-Mielec M-93K Iryda trainers.
The aircraft are fitted with 14.71kN (3,300lb)-thrust K-15 turbojets developed by the Warsaw Aviation Institute (IL), giving around 4kN more thrust than the PZL-5 engines powering the predecessor to the M-93K, the I-22.
Despite what it describes as teething troubles, air force officials claim that its Iryda fleet, including the five I-22s already in service before the delivery of the M-93K, has the highest degree of serviceability among all the types in service.
The aircraft are to serve with the air force training academy at Deblin, replacing the older TS-11 Iskra trainer.
The M-93K has a Martin-Baker Mk10 ejection seat, but the standard Polish I-22 avionics package, quashing hopes that the air force would acquire aircraft fitted with avionics from France's SAGEM. The M-93K is to be the standard Polish air force version of the aircraft.
Two more are expected to be delivered in the coming weeks, with an additional three to be handed over by the end of the year. Future plans call for the purchase of six, or at most eight, more M-93Ks, with the numbers limited by Poland's tight defence budget.
Rolls-Royce has also been working with PZL to certificate the Viper for export variants of the I-22, but this project is progressing extremely slowly.
Source: Flight International