U.S. Air Force jets deployed to Poland for training: officials

U.S. Air Force F-15 and F-16 fighter jets and C-130 military transport planes have arrived in Poland for an exercise and bilateral training, officials have said.

A U.S. Air Force F-16 fighter jet.

A U.S. Air Force F-16 fighter jet.Photo: EPA/KIM HONG-JI

The exercises come amid concerns over a Russian troop build-up on the border with neighbouring Ukraine, but US officials said the training in Poland was long planned.

According to the U.S. Air Force, the aircraft have been deployed to take part in an Agile Combat Employment (ACE) exercise.

This involves F-15Es from the 492nd Fighter Squadron at RAF Lakenheath, England; F-16s from the 480th Fighter Squadron at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany; and C-130s from the 37th Airlift Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, according to officials.

While in Poland, the F-15Es and F-16s will be operating out of the 32nd Tactical Air Base in Łask and the 31st Tactical Air Base in Krzesiny, the U.S. Air Force said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the C-130s will be operating out of Chièvres Air Base in Belgium.

After the ACE event, the F-15Es will remain to train bilaterally with the Polish air force “to maintain joint readiness while building interoperability capabilities,” according to the statement.

Gen. Jeff Harrigian, commander of U.S. Air Forces Europe-Air Forces Africa, was quoted as saying that opportunities „to train alongside our Polish allies are incredibly valuable and critically important.”

Such training „allows us to hone our combat skills, build lasting relationships and learn to operate seamlessly as a combined force,” Harrigian said, as cited on the usafe.af.mil website.

He added that “the reoccurring aviation detachment rotations make both nations stronger by developing highly capable airmen ready to deliver combat airpower, anytime and anywhere.”

The U.S. Air Force’s „rotational force presence in Poland allows the United States and its allies to prepare to respond decisively to an array of global threats and to better support air operations,” according to the statement.

Poland’s Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak tweeted on Monday that several dozen US F-15s and F-16s arrived in Poland that day to „practice rapid deployment of air forces within Europe with the use of Polish airports.”

„By exercising together, we strengthen the security of our region,” Błaszczak said.

The training comes as Russia has increased its forces along the border with Ukraine in occupied Crimea, various news outlets have noted.

Pentagon spokesman John F. Kirby said on Monday that the latest Russian troop build-up was “certainly larger” than in 2014 when Russia invaded Crimea, and he called for Russia to be clearer about its intentions.

Kirby also said that the ongoing exercise in Poland was “fairly routine,” and “not a specific reaction to what’s going on” in Crimea, the US-based Air Force Magazinereported on its website.

(gs/pk)

Source: IAR, usafe.af.milairforcemag.com

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