B-737-800, M-346s for Poland
The USAF’s 5th Generation fighter, the F-22A Raptor has been employed for targetting Taliban narcotics laboratories and other infrastructure in Musa Qala with GBU-39B Small Diameter Bombs (SDBs). Initial strikes had been flown by Afghan Air Force A-29s, which hit two opium-production facilities in northern Helmand Province. The F-22 Raptor “is one of our most advanced fighter aircraft,” said United States Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A) commander Gen John Nicholson. “This aircraft was used because of its ability to deliver precision munitions, in this case a 250lb bomb that causes the minimal amount of collateral damage.” B-52Hs were also involved in the air strikes on eight opium-production facilities, in a series of raids intended to target Taliban revenue streams. As part of the US government’s revised South Asia strategy, new authorities allow USFOR-A to strike financial targets as well as military ones. However, some US critics are questioning as to “why is the air force using its most advanced fighters to blow up crude drug labs?”
Anew VIP transport Boeing 737-800 has been delivered to the Polish Air Force at 1. Baza Lotnictwa Transportowego WarsawOkecie Airport. This is the first of three 737s that will enter Polish service, the other two being Boeing Business Jet 2 variants, which are due for delivery in 2018.
Meanwhile, Leonardo has delivered the last six M-346s to the Polish Air Force. The original contract stated that all eight aircraft were to be delivered before the end of 2017, and the first two M-346s arrived in Poland in November 2016, but because of the lack of weapons-release software for some of the armament used by Polish F-16s, delivery of the third, fourth, fifth and sixth M-346s was delayed. Leonardo have begun training some Polish pilots and instructors on the new aircraft in Venegono, using Italian Air Force T-346As to minimise the impact on the Polish training syllabus.