On October 8, 2023, an operation code–named ‘Neon’ was launched involving the Polish Air Force. The purpose of the mission is to ensure the safe evacuation of Poles by air from Israel, where a state of emergency has been declared. The undertaking is related to the military aggression initiated by the Muslim Resistance Movement (Hamas), which originated in Palestine[1].

The National Security Bureau has issued a presidential order for the use of the Polish Military Contingent in Israel[2]. It was decided that between October 8 and October 15, 2023, the Polish Military Contingent in the State of Israel will be involved in the evacuation and transportation of Polish citizens due to the need to protect their lives or health[3]. The Vice President of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Paweł Jabłoński – specified the priorities for bringing Poles to the territory of the Republic of Poland. First, assistance will be provided to those who have been in Israel on a short–term basis and cannot return to Poland due to canceled flights. Next, evacuation will be provided to those with Polish or dual citizenship who have been in Israel longer, but have declared a desire to return to the country[4]. The Polish Military Contingent will also guarantee transportation for citizens of other countries, but the safety of Poles has been decided first.

Participating in Operation ‘Neon’ are military aviation personnel[5] numbering about 200 soldiers, along with the necessary security and equipment, namely aircraft, such as: a government aircraft Boeing 737–86X(WL) ‘Józef Piłsudski’ with side number 0110 from the 1. Transport Aviation Base in Warsaw, Lockheed Martin C–130E Hercules medium transport aircraft with side numbers 1503 and 1505 from the 33rd Transport Aviation Base in Powidz, and Airbus C–295M CASA medium transport aircraft from the 8th Transport Aviation Base in Cracow. Two C–130E Hercules transport aircraft and one Boeing 737–86X(WL) government aircraft were diverted to Ben Gurion International Airport located in Tel Aviv (ICAO code: LLBG). In addition, two C–295M CASA transport aircraft were deployed to Daskalogiannis Airport in Chania on the Greek island of Crete (ICAO code: LGSA)[6].

C–130E Hercules aircraft form the backbone of Poland’s military transport aviation. Their participation in Operation ‘Neon’ is determined by their equipment and upgraded on–board avionics, which include the AN/ALR–69(V) Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) from Raytheon, Missile Warning System (MWS) the AN/AAR–47(V)1 and Airborne Countermeasures Dispenser System (ACDS) AN/ALE–47 from BAE Systems[7]. On the other hand, modern systems were installed in the cockpit, including the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR), the AN/APX–19 Identification Friend or Foe (IFF), the L–3 Communication TCAS – 2000 Airborne Collision Avoidance System (TCAS). Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS II), a dual receiver Rockwell Collins AN/ARN–147 radionavigation and precision landing system, and Raytheon’s MAGR2000S satellite–inertial navigation system[8]. The C–295M CASA, on the other hand, has been retrofitted with two, all–digital flight computers. They utilize as many as four, ergonomically positioned monitors. In addition, the aircraft’s radio navigation functions through a VOR (VHF Omnidirectional Range) radio station operating in the frequency range of 108–117,950 MHz coupled to an ILS (Instrument Landing System) limited visibility landing aid, forming a VOR/ILS system. The C–295M CASA transport aircraft also has a dedicated Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) transponder, a meteorological radio station, emergency transmitters, Global Positioning System – Navigation Signal Timing and Ranging (GPS–NAVSTAR) receivers, and a TCAS II system[9]. Moreover, the aircraft has an integrated AN/ALR–300Y2B system from Indra, consisting of a radar warning receiver, which is a passive electronic warfare (EW/WRE) system integrated with AN/ALE–47 flare and dipole launchers. Optional cockpit armor can be installed to protect against small arms fire and shrapnel[10]. The Boeing 737–86X(WL), on the other hand, has none of the above on–board equipment, but features a very large transport capacity. It can carry up to 120 passengers in the economy section, while the remaining space includes a VIP lounge capable of accommodating four people and a section with 12 premium seats[11].



[1] Vide: J. Yeung, A. Renton, E. Upright, J. Berlinger, A. Sangal, D. Andone, M. Hayes, Israel at war with Hamas after unprecedented attacks, online – https://edition.cnn.com/middleeast/live-news/israel-hamas-gaza-attack-10-09-23/index.html [accessed: 12.10.2023].

[2] Order of the President of the Republic of Poland dated October 8, 2023, on the use of the Polish Military Contingent in the State of Israel (Polish Official Gazette, item 1082).

[3] Ibidem.

[4] Polish Press Agency, Operation ‘Neon’. Behind the scenes of the evacuation of Poles from Israel. ‘We are conducting an operation on the largest scale among EU countries’, online – https://www.pap.pl/aktualnosci/operacja-neon-kulisy-ewakuacji-polakow-z-izraela-prowadzimy-operacje-na-najwieksza [accessed: 12.10.2023].

[5] The military aviation staff includes pilots, loadmasters (who act as ‘stewards’) and medics.

[6] The Military Magazine, Operation ‘Neon’: Evacuation of Poles from Israel, online –  https://milmag.pl/operacja-neon-ewakuacja-polakow-z-izraela/ [accessed: 12.10.2023].

[7] K. Kuska, 10 years of C–130E Hercules aircraft in the Polish Armed Forces part 1, online – https://zbiam.pl/artykuly/10-lat-samolotow-c-130e-hercules-w-silach-zbrojnych-rp-cz-1/ [accessed: 12.10.2023].

[8] Ibidem.

[9] Official website of Samolotypolskie.pl, CASA C–295 (EADS CASA C–295), online – https://www.samoloty.pl/encyklopedia-samolotobby-309/zagraniczne-hobby-257/transportowe-hobby-297/hiszpania-hobby-564/casa-c-295-hobby-565 [accessed: 12.10.2023].

[10] Polish Army, C–295M CASA transport aircraft, online – https://www.wojsko-polskie.pl/samolot-transportowy-C-295M-CASA/ [accessed: 12.10.2023].

[11] Ł. Pacholski, Poland evacuates Poles from Israel, online – https://zbiam.pl/polska-ewakuuje-polakow-z-izraela/ [accessed: 12.10.2023].

Photo: Defense Visual Information Distribution Service, online – https://nara.getarchive.net/media/a-polish-air-force-c-130-hercules-is-seen-next-to-a-21dd7d [accessed: 12.10.2023].


Tekst powstał w ramach realizacji zadania publicznego zleconego w ramach Rządowego Programu Rozwoju Organizacji Obywatelskich na lata 2018–2030 r. „Bezpieczna Polska jutra – rozwój działań misyjnych Alioth Foundation”.