PZL-Mielec TS-11 “Iskra”
Archive Photos ¹
PZL-Mielec TS-11 Iskra (s/n H0715) c.2003 on display at the Planes of Fame Air Museum, Chino, California (John Shupek copyright © 2003 Skytamer Images)
The PZL-Mielec TS-11 “Iskra” (English: Spark) is a Polish jet trainer aircraft, used by the air forces of Poland and India. It is notable as the main training aircraft of the Polish Army, the oldest jet still in service in Poland - and one of the most reliable.
The aircraft was designed in response to a Polish Air Force requirement for a jet trainer. The main designer was Tadeusz Soltyk - hence a designation letters TS. The new aircraft was the first jet aircraft designed in Poland. Work started in 1957, the first prototype powered by an imported British Armstrong Siddeley “Viper 8” of 7.80 kN (1,750 lbf) was flown on 5 February 1960. The next two prototypes, with a Polish copy of the Viper engine named the WSK HO-10 engine were flown in March and July 1961.
The new Aircraft fulfilled requirements and, after tests, was accepted for the Polish Air Force as the TS-11 “Iskra bis A”, produced since 1963. From about 1966, the aircraft were produced with a new Polish-designed engine WSK SO-1 with thrust of 9.80 kN (2,200 lbf). From 1969, WSK SO-3 engines with longer time between overhauls were used and later improved version WSK SO-3W with thrust of 10.80 kN (2,425 lbf).
All-metal jet trainer aircraft, conventional in layout, with mid-wings. Wings are trapezoid-shaped, with leading edge swept at small angle. Air intakes in wings. Single jet engine has an exhaust under a boom with tail fin, which gives the aircraft an unusual silhouette. The two crewmen have ejector seats. The aircraft has no radar (apart from the TS-11R). It can be fitted with photo cameras.
Poland is currently developing the new TS-11S “Iskra” (Spark) for future jet trainer. It will be equipped with new avionics, strengthened structures and a more powerful engine.
Operational History ²
In 1964, the TS-11 “Iskra” prototype beat four world records in its class, among others the speed record of 839 km/h (524 mph). The TS-11 “Iskra” competed as the standard jet trainer for the Warsaw Pact, but due to a political decision, the Czechoslovakian Aero L-29 “Delfin” was chosen. Poland became the only Warsaw Pact country using the TS-11 “Iskra”. A total of 424 aircraft were built by 1987, when production ceased. A total of 50 aircraft TS-11 “Iskra bis D” were exported to India in 1975, then further 26 in the 1990s.
In 2002, Poland still had 110 TS-11 “Iskras”, including five TS-11R “Iskras”. The TS-11 “Iskras” became Polish first and only jet trainer so far - the program for a successor, the PZL I-22 “Iryda” (later designated M-93 “Iryda”), failed for several reasons and few were built. In Indian service, the TS-11 “Iskra” was withdrawn by 16 December 2004. During service, seven were lost, killing four crew.
In 2011, Poland had less than 79 (total number of school aircraft: TS-11, PZL-130) operational TS-11 “Iskras” according to official data.
From 1969 TS-11 “Iskras” have been used by the Polish aerobatics team, initially called “Rombik”, and currently “Bialo-Czerwone Iskry” ("White-and-Red Iskras").
The UK has one fully operational ground running “Iskra” (1018) which is part of the Cold War Jets Collection based at Bruntingthorpe, Leicestershire.
Operator (past and present) ²
Specifications (TS-11 “Iskra bis D”) ²
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