Polish officials have stated that send four F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jets to Syria and Iraq to fight against the so-called Islamic State.
“These four F-16 that needs to perform a reconnaissance mission, I hope, will be at bases in the middle East before the summit of NATO,” — said Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz.
As of 2011 the Polish Air Force have three squadrons of F-16s: two stationed at the 31st Tactical Air Base near Poznań and the 10th Tactical Squadron at the 32nd Air Base near Łask. The acquisition of the US F-16 was not without fierce competition from European aerospace companies; the sale was hotly pursued by the French company Dassault, with their Mirage 2000 and by the Swedish company Saab, with the JAS 39 Gripen.
The Polish Block 52+ F-16s are equipped with the latest Pratt and Whitney F-100-229 afterburning turbofan engines, and the avionics suite includes the APG-68(V)9 terrain mapping radar system and the ALQ-211(V)4 electronic warfare suite. All Polish F-16s can carry modern US precision ordnance, ranging from the JDAM/JSOW to the latest in export-certificate-authorized air-to-air weaponry (including the AIM-120C-5 and AIM-9X).
The conflict in Syria and Iraq has killed at least 250,000 people, driven 11 million from their homes and sparked the refugee crisis in Europe.