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USAF to station F-16s in Poland as of 2013

November 18, 2010 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The U.S. Air Force will station F-16 jet fighters and C-130 Hercules transport aircraft in Poland as of 2013, Polish Defense Minister Bogdan Klich announced on Nov. 18th.

PolAF F-16C block 52 #4061 from 6 elt is coming in for landing at Leeuwarden AB during the Frisian Flag excersice on April 14th, 2010. [Photo by John de Winter]

"Poland has decided to accept the U.S. proposal of hosting rotations of F-16 and Hercules aircraft and their crews" on its territory, Klich told Poland's TOK FM commercial radio station. "I hope this will begin in 2013," he added.

The U.S. planes will be taking part in joint drills together with the Polish Air Force, and will be returning to the U.S. afterwards. Then, they will return periodically

According to Klich, the presence of the US military planes in Poland will be similar to the stationing of the American Patriot missiles that were placed on Polish territory earlier in 2010.

In March last year, a USAF officer based at the Pentagon had suggested the United States and NATO would be best served by moving F-16s now stationed at Aviano Air Base, Italy, to Poland.

Poland, which is traditionally seeking ways to balance its location between Russia and Germany, has moved even closer to the United States with respect to defense cooperation.

The minister also announced that Poland and the three Baltic states in 2013 will host in an exercise of the NATO Response Force (NRF), a multinational contingent of about 25,000 troops available for rapid deployment in crisis management, stabilization or collective defense.

Additional images:

Front view of PolAF F-16D block 52 #4087 from 10 elt being parked on the tarmac during exercise Bold Avenger 2009 at Karup AB on September 15th, 2009. [Photo by Erik Frikke]