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Poland removes MiG-29 grounding order

Poland has returned its fleet of RAC MiG-29 fighters to operational use, removing a grounding order that had been in place since a non-fatal accident earlier this year.

Announcing the resumption of MiG-29 duties, Warsaw’s armed forces general command says the decision was taken “after analysing the implemented recommendations” following a spate of accidents involving the Russian-built type.

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Bartosz Glowacki

In the most recent incident, on 4 March 2019, a pilot ejected safely after his aircraft suffered a technical malfunction, most likely linked to its engines. This followed a fatal crash in July 2018, the causes of which are still being investigated, and another airframe loss in December 2017, details about which have also yet to be published.

Polish air force inspector Major General Jacek Pszczola says five of the service’s MiG-29s are currently airworthy, with another 12 awaiting check flights. The nation has sufficient spare parts to support operations for a further three to four years.

The duration of the grounding order means Poland’s MiG-29 pilots have lost their currency and permissions to fly the type. “Permissions to fly for the most experienced pilots will be restored first,” Pszczola says. He expects the entire process to take at least six months to complete, involving theoretical and simulator training, and flight activities in a range of conditions.

Warsaw intends to acquire 32 Lockheed Martin F-35As to replace its remaining MiG-29s and Sukhoi Su-22 ground-attack aircraft.