The U.S. is sending six more F-15s and a KC-135 refueling tanker to Poland and the Baltics to bolster support for NATO'S Air Policing mission amid the standoff in Ukraine. (Air Force)
The U.S. is increasing its support for NATO’S Air Policing mission in Poland and the Baltics, sending a KC-135 refueling tanker and six more F-15s to the region this week, a defense official said today.
The move boosts from four to 11 the number of on-call aircraft the U.S. now provides to help identify and respond to violations of Baltic airspace, the official said. Baltic allies requested the assistance amid a growing standoff between Ukraine and Russia over the Crimean Peninsula.
The U.S., along with more than a dozen other countries, has provided on-call aircraft on a rotational basis for a decade. Four U.S. F-15s arrived Jan. 1 to fill NATO’s Baltic Air Policing rotation. The rotations is scheduled to end April 30.
The additional U.S. aircraft will deploy to Siauliai Air Base in Lithuania from Lakenheath in the United Kingdom.
The defense official also said the Defense Department is consulting with Polish allies on increasing activities associated with an aviation detachment in Poland, where 10 U.S Air Force personnel support rotations of F-16s and C-130s for joint training missions. The detachment has supported four U.S. training rotations since late 2012.