A MiG-29 military jet crashed during a night flight in the country’s north and the Polish Air Force pilot was killed despite ejecting before the crash, Poland’s defense officials said Friday. The jet crashed in fields near the town of Paslek during an interception exercise. Video from private broadcaster TVN showed the wreckage lying in a grain field, covered with firefighting foam. The body of the 33-year-old pilot, whose name was not released, was found a few hundred meters (yards) away.
The Polish defence ministry said that an investigation will be held into the circumstances which resulted in the tragic mishap. The defence ministry said that the pilot was on a night flying mission and had over 800 hours of flying experience of which 600 were combat operations.
In December, a pilot was injured when another MiG-29 crashed in central Poland.
Poland has some 30 MiG-29 (25 MiG-29As, six MiG-29UB) fighter jets which have been in service for almost 30 years, but is gradually replacing them with U.S.-made F-16 aircraft. The first 12 MiG-29 were delivered to Poland in 1989–1990. The aircraft were based at Mińsk Mazowiecki and used by the 1st Fighter Aviation Regiment. Of the 22 MiG-29s Poland received from the German Air Force in 2004, a total of 14 of these were overhauled and taken into service. They were used to equip the 41st Tactical Squadron (41. elt), replacing its MiG-21s. They are stationed with the 1st Tactical Squadron at the 23rd Air Base near Mińsk Mazowiecki and the 41st TS at the 22nd Air Base near Malbork. As of 2008, Poland is the biggest NATO MiG-29 user. The possibility of modernising the fighters to enable them to serve until 2020–2025 is being contemplated, depending on whether cooperation with Mikoyan can be established.