This week Airbus Defence and Space unveiled the Orlik MPT, an upgrade of the PZL-130 Orlik (eaglet) trainer that made its first flight in 1984 and has been the Polish air force’s basic trainer since entering service in 1993. The new version introduces a host of improvements intended to equip it to serve as the initial step in a new-look Polish training syllabus, and the unveiling follows Poland’s decision to procure the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 to serve as the advanced/lead-in trainer before successful students progress to Poland’s front-line F-16 fighters.
Polish Air Force
Poland is looking for a new advanced trainer that can replace its current Iskra jets from around 2015, to complement PZL Orlik primary/basic trainers. Eight new aircraft are being sought in a tender for an integrated aircrew training system for the country’s air force. With Czech company Aero Vodochody having dropped out, three companies have recently responded, in the form of Alenia Aermacchi (M346), Lockheed Martin (KAI T-50) and BAE Systems (Hawk AJT).
The choice of a multi-role fighter aircraft for the Polish air force could result in the launch of a “private jet” in Poland, depending on the offset proposals of the winning bidder. In competition are Lockheed Martin (F-16), SAAB-British Aerospace (Gripen) and Dassault Aviation (Mirage 2000). The contract is expected to be signed in the first quarter of this year and the offset agreements are required to be signed within 60 days after that.