December 9th, 2020 saw the withdrawal of the TS-11 Iskra after 60 years of service with the Polish Air Force. The Iskra was the first domestically-developed jet aircraft to be produced by Poland and is notable for its service spanning more than 50 years serving as the principal training aircraft of the Polish Air Force as well as the oldest jet-propelled aircraft still in service in Poland.
The PZL TS-11 Iskra is an aircraft developed and manufactured by the Polish Aircraft Company PZL-Mielec. Besides Poland, the company managed to export the aircraft type to India.
The TS-11 Iskra is an all-metal aircraft with a fairly conventional layout, featuring a trapezoidal-shaped mid-wing arrangement. These wings, which only have a gentle angle of sweep along the leading edge, feature air intakes embedded into the wing root.
The TS-11’s single turbojet engine is found with the main fuselage, its exhaust is located beneath the boom-mounted tail fin, which provides the aircraft with a fairly unusual silhouette. Both crew are provided with ejector seats for emergency egress.
As noted from the images below, some models of the TS-11 can be armed; armaments have consisted of a single nose-mounted cannon with 80 rounds, along with a total of four underwing hardpoints that were compatible with a variety of different weapons, including bombs and rockets. Most TS-11 airframes were not equipped with a radar set. However, the specialised TS-11R reconnaissance variant was provided with such equipment. The TS-11 can also be outfitted with various cameras for the purpose of performing aerial photography missions.
The Sily Powietrzne RP (Polish AF) held a retirement ceremony at 41.Baza Deblin to bid farewell to the TS-11 Iskra and transfer the jet training tasks over to the Alenia Aermacchi M346 Bielik, of which Poland has 12 in service with a third batch of an additional 4 M346 expected to be completed by October 2022, bringing the total up to 16. The introduction of the M-346 Bielik will offer great new opportunities for the training of its future pilots for fifth generation aircraft, such as the F-35.
The Polish Air Force operated over 300 TS-11 Iskra at a time and it was in fact 60 years ago that the type first took to the skies on February 5th, 1960. TS-11 Iskra serial ‘2001’ had the privilege to fly the last operational sortie which was later transferred to the Deblin Aviation Museum by the Commander of the 4th Aviation School Wing, Colonel pil. Doctor Engineer. Grzegorz Ślusz. The aerobatic demonstration team “Team Iskry” will continue to fly the aircraft for the following 1-2 years.
The team has recently participated in the Malta International Airshow back in 2016, and thus, owing to their imminent retirement, MAR is really glad to have seen them perform above the Maltese skies. Below you can see some images of their participation and show in 2016.