US F-16s strengthen Air Policing Mission with long-planned Poland deployment

U.S. F-16 aircraft landed in Łask, Poland on January 4 to work with the Polish Baltic Air Policing F-16s in Siauliai, Lithuania and enhanced Air Policing Belgian F-16s in Amari, Estonia.

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US F 16s strengthen Air Policing Mission with long planned Poland deployment

U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon pilots assigned to the 480th Fighter Squadron at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, greet each other after arriving at Łask Air Base, Poland, January 4, 2022. 52nd Fighter Wing units routinely train for rapid response operations, keeping Airmen, equipment and capabilities ready for any contingency (Picture source: US Air Force)

The Belgian, Polish and U.S. fighters will practice advanced airborne manoeuvres and work closely with Combined Air Operations Centre Uedem (CAOCUE) to enhance Command and Control procedures. This detachment in Eastern Europe is designed to improve interoperability among the Allies and rehearse the rapid deployment of aircraft to alternate bases.

"The supplemental U.S. fighters will provide improved capabilities in the region and demonstrate a seamless integration into the long standing Baltic and enhanced Air Policing missions," said Brigadier General Joel Carey, Allied Air Command Deputy Chief of Staff Operations. "These deployments demonstrate the Alliance's ability to rapidly and effectively deploy assets to vital regions to assure partners and safeguard Allied airspace," he added.

The U.S. fighters will complete routine Air Policing qualification prior to participating in the Air Policing activities. CAOCUE oversees all Air Policing missions in the Baltic Region and directs any scrambles against unknown aircraft.

Since 2014, the NATO Alliance has implemented Assurance Measures with the goal to assure the Allies along the eastern flank. One tool in this set of measures is the concept of enhanced Air Policing, which demonstrates NATO's solidarity, collective resolve, and its ability to adapt and scale its defensive missions and deterrence posture in response to an evolving security situation.