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U.S. Air Force Sends F-15E and F-16 Fighters to Russia’s Doorstep

U.S. Air Force Russia
A Boeing (McDonnell Douglas) F-15E "Strike Eagle" assigned to the 492nd Fighter Squadron performs a high-speed pass over RAF Lakenheath, England, April 10, 2019. The 492nd conducts routine training daily to ensure RAF Lakenheath brings unique air combat capabilities to the fight when called upon by U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa.

While pierogis and schabowy may not be on the menu at the mess hall, some United States Air Force pilots and Airmen will likely have an opportunity to take in the local cuisine in the coming weeks during their deployment to Poland.

The Air Force announced that U.S. Airmen and F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft assigned to the 492th Fighter Squadron, 48th Fighter Wing, RAF Lakenheath, England; F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft assigned to the 480th Fighter Squadron, 52nd Fighter Wing, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany; and C-130J Super Hercules aircraft assigned to the 37th Airlift Squadron, 86th Airlift Wing, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, arrived in Poland to participate in an Agile Combat Employment (ACE) exercise during Aviation Detachment Rotation 21.2.

Target Russia? 

A total of twenty F-15E Strike Eagles and four F-16 Fighting Falcons were deployed to take part in the exercises.

The Air Force has described ACE as a proactive and reactive operational scheme of maneuver executed within threat timelines to increase survivability while generating combat power. U.S. Air Forces Europe-Air Forces Africa is “operationalizing” its ACE concepts as a way to increase agility, resiliency, and lethality in all air operations.

“Opportunities to train alongside our Polish allies are incredibly valuable and critically important,” explained Gen Jeff Harrigian, U.S. Air Forces Europe-Air Forces Africa commander.

“It allows us to hone our combat skills, build lasting relationships and learn to operate seamlessly as a combined force,” Gen. Harrigian added. “The reoccurring aviation detachment rotations make both nations stronger by developing highly capable Airmen ready to deliver combat airpower, anytime and anywhere.”

According to the Air Force, the 48th FW and 52nd FW will operate out of the 32nd Tactical AB, Łask, and the 31st Tactical AB, Krzesiny, Poland. The 86th AW will operate out of Chièvres AB, Belgium, to disperse, organize and generate airlift for the ACE event.

Multiple sorties per day are planned, and in addition to the F-15s and F-16s, it will involve the Polish Air Force’s Mikoyan MiG-29 (NATO reporting name Fulcrum) fighter aircraft.

Following the completion of the ACE exercise, the 48 FW will then conduct bilateral training with the Polish Air Force as a way to further maintain joint readiness while building interoperability capabilities.

According to a report from the TheAviationist, this is not the first visit of the U.S. Air Force’s Strike Eagle to Poland. U.S. F-15Es from the 4th Fighter Wing out of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base (AFB), North Carolina, were deployed to the Eastern European nation in July 2019 as part of the Rapid Forge exercise.

While the deployment has been described as “fairly routine” by Pentagon spokesman John F. Kirby, and that it wasn’t a reaction to the increase in Russian troops in Crimea, it certainly could be seen as at least as a reaction to events that continue to unfold along the Ukrainian border. No doubt Moscow will take notice of the deployment of the F-15s and F-16s to Poland.

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.

Peter Suciu
Written By

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.

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