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December 2, 2023 2:34 am

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Route 604: Focus On The Polish Road Strip Exercise

Route 604


Route 604
Two MiG-29s touchdown on a highway strip throughout Route 604 train. (All photographs, credit score: Michał Wajnchold)

Now we have attended Route 604, the primary Polish highway strip train in 20 years.

The highway strips in Poland (and elsewhere) went via their glory interval within the Nineteen Sixties and Eighties. The emergence of those stems from the teachings discovered from the Six-Day War, when the Israeli Air Pressure was attacking the Egyptian airbases on the very begin of the battle, destroying a serious amount of plane. This was brought on by the actual fact, that the Egyptians handled the rules of scattering the plane on the unprotected aprons considerably reluctantly.

The USSR and its allies have been intently following the occasions within the Center East. Poland drew related conclusions from that battle and carried out measures that will forestall its personal air belongings from being destroyed at first of a possible conflict. The plane have been protected actively, as they have been being correctly hidden on the airbases, with particular apron designs that includes berms defending the plane, organized with giant separations between the parking areas.

One other technique employed to guard the plane was seen in scattering the belongings, between reserve airbases and roadstrips. It was assumed that the enemy could be unable to disable all areas directly, and no less than a few of them would nonetheless assure {that a} capability to conduct air ops could be retained.

The story of highway strips in Poland dates again to 1968, when a bit of the so-called Berlinka freeway, by no means completed by the Germans, connecting Berlin and the Kaliningrad oblast, was used to conduct take-offs and landings. Within the Seventies, aside from the well-known Kliniska highway strip, one other 20 sections of public roads have been tailor-made to be used by plane.

The Polish highway strips, known as DOL (Drogowy Odcinek Lotniskowy) have been 2,200 meters lengthy, and 12 meters large, with an additional 3 meters of width on both sides. Situated in north-western Poland, the highway strips have been organized round roads of secondary significance, near the everlasting airbases. Nevertheless, that additionally was not a inflexible rule.

An M-346 about to the touch down on the highway strip.

When the roads have been modernized, their capability to face up to the affect of a heavy plane was being enhanced, they have been being widened, and the onerous shoulders have been additionally made wider than commonplace. The vegetation was being adjusted. Any terrain obstructions or energy traces additionally needed to be eliminated.

The methodology adopted in Poland differed fairly considerably from the Swedish one, when it got here to the infrastructure – in Poland, aside from additional aprons for plane on the finish of the highway strips, no additional shelters, hangars, or storage areas have been organized. Nevertheless, issues associated to DOLs have been stored secret. Nonetheless, when driving a automobile over an extended part of immaculate tarmac, one may simply understand, that in truth, they have been driving on a runway. Maintaining the highway surfaces in an immaculate situation across the DOL runways was assigned to the executive occasion, answerable for the given DOL.

DOL Kliniska was the highway strip that was used most frequently, amongst a number of others. Many of the Polish highway strips have been by no means used and required some preparation earlier than any flight ops. Most frequently, these steps involved vegetation, elimination of highway indicators, and marking the alternate routes. In some circumstances, the preparation required was much more important and included the demolition of current buildings, or rearrangement of energy traces, or phone poles.  Nevertheless, the highway strip use guide was easy. Simply earlier than the DOL strip turned lively, groups arrived on location securing the logistics, arranging alternate routes, and establishing navaids, lights, and the Krasula take-off command station.

F-16 taking off throughout Route 604 train.

Touchdown on a highway strip was a demanding activity for the pilots, and it was often preceded by many coaching hours, with operations carried out on designated slender runway sections or taxiways. Notably, because the highway strips have been getting used, the fighter plane additionally advanced – ranging from Lim-1 and Lim-2, after which the air pressure moved to MiG-21 Fishbed – on this case, touchdown the jet on a highway strip, in a forest, was a a lot larger problem, with much less room for error. The Polish Air Pressure operated all of its belongings on highway strips, together with the An-26 airlifters. International contributors in DOL workout routines have been additionally frequent – in 1999 the French and the Swedes took half within the train organized at DOL Kliniska.

Because the political wind of change of the Nineties turned obvious, there was no use for sustaining the Polish freeway strips, and the financial decline meant that the price range was too tight to maintain them alive. So that they nearly disappeared. Solely a bit close to Szczecin was nonetheless in use, whereas the remaining DOL strips shortly fell right into a technical degradation. As highway works progressed, a few of the Polish highway strips now not serve their authentic function, and it stays troublesome nowadays to even understand that the given highway part was designed to accommodate fighter plane.

C-130s may function from highway strips.

Previous to Route 604 exercise, the final Polish freeway strip operations have been happening again in 2003. The concept of scattering the belongings underneath menace continues to be legitimate at present, because the conflict in Ukraine reveals. For this reason the Air Pressure, in fashionable days, assumes that roads could also be used to deploy indifferent parts of the Air Pressure. After 1990 just one new freeway strip was created, on the A4 freeway between Tarnów and Dębica. Nevertheless, given the degrees of visitors there it appears lower than possible that any train would happen there, ever.

The issues have been completely different with regards to the legacy DOL strip close to Wielbark.

When complicated renovation works have been carried out on the native highway between Nidzica and Wielbark, it was determined that a wholly new runway could be constructed, to switch the prevailing strip. And that runway just isn’t actually much like every other highway strip in Poland, with a concrete floor that’s 30 meters large and three,000 meters lengthy. These dimensions make it much less of a problem than an ordinary, slender highway strip (2,200×12 meters). Again in 2018, an train came about right here, organized by the first Tactical Aviation Wing, aimed to test the organizational procedures, however with no landings. The Route 604 train was a full check of the Wielbark DOL, with plane coming from 1st, 2nd Tactical Air Wings, third Airlift Wing, and 4th Coaching Aviation Wing all happening within the train.

Wielbark DOL.

The entire train ended with a media day. involving the Head of the Polish MoD, who declared that institution and modernization of extra highway strips could also be anticipated in Poland quickly – with common coaching at them anticipated as effectively.

Written with Michał Wajnchold

Standing contributor for TheAviationist. Aviation photojournalist. Co-Founding father of Professional in linguistics, Chilly Warfare discourse, Chilly Warfare historical past and coverage and media communications.


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