Polish Air Force is back again!

The Polish Air Force came back for another visit to Wisconsin – this time they left the pilots at home! Four members of the Polish Air Force, all ground control intercept weapon directors, were here this week to learn from those at Volk Field who have similar jobs in the Air National Guard. I got to join them for their morning briefing and again while they were watching our F-16 Fighting Falcons in action!

The main objective of their visit was to compare and contrast the way we do things here in the states versus the way they do similar tasks in Poland.

The morning started with a briefing. They learned about the airspace, the goals of the pilots, what to expect when watching the aircraft, etc. Following that briefing, they were brought back to a “no cellphone zone,” where they got placed in front of computers with headphones so they could observe and hear the pilots conversing mid-flight.

Their screens in the dark room were filled with bright lines and circles and dots – each indicating different boundaries, planes, etc. They watched as the F-16s got closer and closer to the “enemy” planes. They were able to measure the distances between each airframe – giving them an indication of threat levels. They watched as the “enemy” planes, which ended up being friendlies, backed down.

Their job back in Poland is similar. The only real difference was the actual system they used to track the planes. They continually watch radars and determine threat levels at any given time. Similar to our mission at the 115th, when a plane crosses into their country (and is flying where it doesn’t belong), it’s their job to determine the threat level and notify their pilots of the aircraft.

By working together to learn each other’s best practices, the weapons directors are able to ensure pilots have the information they need during any mission-related scenario. This in turn keeps our pilots and jets safe, and furthermore – keeps us safe.

The State Partnership Program is definitely paying off. If you’d like to learn more about the program itself and our collaboration with other countries, visit the following website: http://www.nationalguard.mil/Leadership/JointStaff/J5/InternationalAffairsDivision/StatePartnershipProgram.aspx

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About Tech. Sgt. Andrea F. Rhode

Tech. Sgt. Andrea F. Rhode is a photojournalist for the 115th Fighter Wing in Madison, Wisconsin.