The Defender Europe exercise, is one of the largest NATO exercises organized this year. During the exercise at the “Pustynia Błędowska” range near Cracow, some new capabilities have been put to test. This includes air-drop of vehicles conducted by the Polish 6th Airborne Brigade – the drop of the Aero 4×4 all-terrain vehicles constitutes the first operation as such organized since 34 years: the last airdrop as such happened back on Apr. 25, 1986, and it involved two P-7 platforms with UAZ-469B vehicles dropped from An-12B. During the Defender 2020 exercise, involving the C-130s, the speed was 120 knots, and it took place at a much lower altitude – 150 meters.
The Aero 4×4 vehicles for the Polish army will be built in a joint effort from a consortium of four Polish firms (Auto Podlasie, Auto Special Modlniczka, Hibneryt, and Kafar) after winning design competition organized by the Armaments Inspectorate under the Polish Ministry of National Defense (MON). The contract signed by Polish defense ministry for €7.25 million foresees the delivery of 55 Aero 4×4 vehicles, and an additional 25 as an option, for the aero-mobile paratrooper forces. The vehicles will also have a variety of uses, including the transport of artillery systems, use as a platform for armaments assembly, Spike ATGM squads and to safely ferry ill or wounded soldiers from the battlefield.
The vehicle has a top speed of 100 kilometers an hour, and its “Run Flat” tires give it the ability to continue driving even after being shot through. Aeros 4×4 are reminiscent of pick-up trucks and weigh 1.8 tons and features a 4.2-liter diesel engine with 131 KM power. The Aero’s body is 3.6 meters long, 2.1 meters wide and 2.3 meters tall. Aero 4×4 can be transported by helicopters with an attached platform or inside transport aircraft. Due to its weight, it will need two parachutes and a landing area of 700 square meters for a safe airdrop. Three Aero 4×4 vehicles can fit in a single C-130.
The 6th Airborne Brigade (6 Brygada Powietrznodesantowa or 6 BPD) is a brigade of the Polish Armed Forces, headquartered in Kraków. The formation specializes as airborne forces and air assault troops, being intended to conduct assault operations from either aircraft or helicopters at a high state of readiness. The 6th Airborne Brigade serves as the Polish Army’s air-mobile unit ready to conduct operations at a high state of readiness. The brigade is equipped and trained to carry out rapid landings either as paratroopers or through insertion by helicopters. The brigade is currently composed of five separate battalions; 1 command battalion, 3 airborne infantry battalions, and 1 logistics battalion.