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POL Independence 2018 01One centenary of Polish independence was celebrated in style on 15 August 2018, with the Wielka Defilada Niepodległosci – the Great Independence Parade, over Warsaw. POL Independence 2018 15

Annually, army day is celebrated with a parade on this day in August, but 2018 was different. Not only was the course of the parade changed to the bank of the Vistula river to allow the huge crowds to enjoy the two hour spectacle, the air parade was much larger than usual, with a whopping 89 aircraft and helicopters following the flow of the Vistula.

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After the grand opening by the Polish demonstration team, Biało-Czerwone Iskry (White-Red Sparks) with their TS-11 Iskra jet trainers, formations of helicopters started to appear. These two army Mil Mi-2s show the two types of colours applied to these nimble helicopters.

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Next in line were two formations of locally designed PZL-Swidnik W-3 Sokol helicopters from their home base Tomaszow Mazowiecki, consisting of four helicopters each.

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Being an independence parade, the navy was also invited and demonstrated a Kaman SH-2G Super Seasprite, showing the flaps to change the pitch of the its rotor blades!

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Although worldwide almost extinct, the navy still operates the impressive Mil Mi-14 helicopter, which boat shaped hull allows it to land (and take off!) from water.

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VIP-helicopters also participated in the parade, this W-3 Sokol sports the national white-red colours are worn by helicopters from 1 BLTr from Warsaw-Okecie, even on their rotor blades.

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Backbone of army transportation is the ubiquitous Mil Mi-8, of which a few dozen are operated by the army aviation division.

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The fearsome Mil Mi-24 has earned its reputation with the Polish army in both Afghanistan and Iraq in the last decade. The leading helicopter is wearing special national markings.

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Another national product is the PZL130 Orlik, which are also operated as a demonstration team, aptly named Team Orlik.

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Air Force camouflage is worn by these PZL-Mielec M28 Skytrucks, an improved version of the Antonov An-28 built in Poland.

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Maritime Patrol is the main tasking of the Polish navy M28 Skytrucks. They are called Bryza in the navy, which translates to Breeze.

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A large country needs a large fleet of transport aircraft and to demonstrate this fact, a formation of no less than five EADS C295Ms could be seen.

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After the Cold War, Poland became one of the USA’s staunchest allies in Europe and abroad, as shown by this C-130J-30 from Ramstein AB in Germany.

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The new high-end VIP-ride of the air force is this Boeing Business Jet, flanked by two F-16s it made its way along the Vistula.

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Another new kid on the block is the capable Macchi M346 jet trainer, three of which were shown to the Polish public for the first time before its official incorporation took place the week after the parade!

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No less than sixteen F-16s had to make up for the temporary grounding of its older fighter types, like the MiG-29 and Su-22….

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Not only a KC-135R tanker of the Illinois Air National Guard, boom lowered to refuel a Polish F-16 underlined the bond between Poland and USA….

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...as grande finale four US Air Force F-22A Raptors from Tyndall AFB were deployed to Poland to participate leaving no doubt about the alliance!