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Poland disbands VIP transport unit

The Polish air force formally disbanded its VIP transport-dedicated 36th Special Transport Regiment on 3 January, in accordance with a decision taken by defence minister Tomasz Siemoniak after an investigation into an April 2010 accident.

Ninety-six people, including Polish president Lech Kaczynski, were killed when one of the unit's Tupolev Tu-154Ms crashed in thick fog while attempting to land in Smolensk, Russia.

A Tu-154M and four Yakovlev Yak-40s are to be sold this year, with a Bell 412HP transport helicopter having been transferred to the police.

The disbanded unit has been replaced at Poland's 1st Air Transport Base with another equipped with six Mil Mi-8 and five PZL Swidnik W-3 Sokol helicopters, all in a VIP configuration.

Other governmental VIP transport needs in Poland will be met using the air force's Airbus Military C-295 and Lockheed Martin C-130E transports, while international visits will be supported using aircraft from LOT Polish Airlines. Warsaw currently charters two Embraer 175s from such sources.

Additional reporting by Grzegorz Sobczak

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