The Polish defence ministry has announced plans to provide a Marynarka Wojenna (Polish Navy) An-28B1R (M28 Bryza) maritime patrol aircraft for the European Union Operation Sophia mission in the Mediterranean.
On February 12, Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak bid farewell to the soldiers of the Polish Military Contingent EU Sophia (PMC EU Sophia) who have departed for Sigonella air base, Sicily. The detachment left Siemirowice airfield, which is home to the 44. Baza Lotnictwa Morskiego (44. BLM, 44th Maritime Aviation Base).
Błaszczak said: “It is very important for the Polish Army to participate in this mission, so that we jointly resolve this conflict, because there is no doubt that the migration crisis is the basis of the conflict that brings a bloody harvest in Europe.”
A press release from the Polish MoD outlined the main tasks of the PMC EU Sophia as: limiting illegal smuggling of people and goods to Europe and supporting the Libyan naval security forces in training and implementing measures to reduce illegal immigration.
The Bryza involved is An-28B1R serial 1017, nicknamed White Lady. This aircraft was specially painted in 2003, marking the 60th anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic, for the participation of 44. BLM in the Royal International Air Tatoo in the UK. The special scheme is based on that worn by a Wellington operated by No 304 (Land of Silesia) Polish Bomber Squadron. The traditions of this unit are maintained by the 44. BLM.
Serial 1017 was upgraded in 2015, adding a TACAN system receiver, a central refuelling point and five-blade Hartzell propellers. The ARS-400 radar was also modernised.
The PMC EU SOPHIA comprises 100 soldiers mostly from the Brygada Lotnictwa Marynarki Wojennej (BLMW, Naval Aviation Brigade). it also includes soldiers from the Special Forces Component Command, 3rd Ship Fleet, 6th Radioelectronics Center, Support Inspectorate, 10th Logistic Brigade, 9th Command Support Brigade and the Military Police.
As part of the AFM European maritime patrol aircraft survey, the forthcoming April issue includes coverage of the 44. BLM and its M28 Bryza fleet.