Four U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft, two F-22 Raptors and one C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft arrived at Łask Air Base, Poland, Aug. 31, 2015.
The Airmen and aircraft are in Poland for separate flying training events with allies to demonstrate the countries’ shared commitment to the collective security of NATO and enduring peace and stability of the region.
„Our friendship and partnership as allies through NATO afford us the ability to train every day as we improve the interoperability between all of our forces,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Christopher Bence, 3rd Air Force and 17th Expeditionary Air Force vice commander, during a media event held at Łask alongside Robert Kupiecki, Polish Deputy Minister of National Defence.
Detachment 1, 52nd Operations Group
The Aviation Detachment, stationed at Łask Air Base, supported the aircraft and its Airmen and has previously hosted rotations of F-16s, A-10s, KC-135s, and C-130s from deployed active-duty, Air National Guard, and U.S. Air Force Reserve units to conduct bilateral training with the Polish air force since 2011, operating under the squadron’s credo of „Razem Silniejsi — Stronger Together.”
„Of course, it all starts with partnerships, and it starts here with our Aviation Detachment led by Lieutenant Colonel Jack Harman as we continue forge our relationship as allies and, most importantly, as friends,” the general said.
F-16 Fighting Falcons — 480th Fighter Squadron, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, and 176th Fighter Squadron, Wisconsin Air National Guard
The F-16s, from the 480th Fighter Squadron, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, will participate in the Aviation Detachment Rotation 15-4. The unit will later be joined by the 606th Air Control Squadron, also at Spangdahlem, and additional F-16s from the 176th Fighter Squadron, Wisconsin Air National Guard.
The upcoming rotation, which is projected to be one of the largest since the Av-Det’s creation, will focus on maintaining joint readiness and building interoperability capabilities between the Polish and U.S. Air Forces.
„This is our 19th rotation in the last two and a half years,” Harman said. „The relationship with our Polish allies is strong and growing.”
F-22 Raptors — 95th Fighter Squadron, Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida
While not part of the Av-Det rotation, the F-22s and their respective operations, maintenance and mission support Airmen from the 95th Fighter Squadron at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, briefly visited Łask for familiarization within European airspace.
This forward deployment of the Raptors to Spangdahlem Air Base Aug. 28 serves as part of the inaugural F-22 training deployment to Europe and is funded by the European Reassurance Initiative, which provides support to bolster the security of our NATO Allies and partners in Europe while demonstrating our commitment to regional and global security.
„This is the first deployment of the F-22 as we continue to build our partnership and train and work together to improve us as allies and as a nation on how we will ultimately fight if we had to,” Bence said.
The general said that the 95th FS Airmen will continue to train side-by-side with allies to be able to prove how the U.S. Air Force can operate a fifth-generation fighter in Europe.
„We continually rotate U.S. forces from the United States into Europe, and this is a part of the training rotation,” he added. „We look forward to continue to prove that fifth-generation aircraft can operate in Europe as we set the foundation for the future of the F-35 coming to Europe in just the next few years.”
The F-22s later returned to Spangdahlem to continue their training deployment.
„It is no surprise that the first allied base the F-22 has arrived is here at Łask, Poland,” Bence said.
Source / Author: USAF / Staff Sgt. Joe W. McFadden
Photo: Staff Sgt. Joe W. McFadden