USAF Deploys Major Fighter Component to Poland

U.S. Air Force Poland
An F-15C of the 48th Fighter Wing lands at Krzesiny on Apr. 19, 2021. (All images credit: Paweł Nowak/EPKS Spotters)

USAF deployed 24 fighters to Poland.

Twenty F-15s and four F-16s belonging to the U.S. Air Force deployed to Poland on Apr. 19, 2021. The two dozen USAF fighters arrived at Łask (EPLK) and Krzesiny (EPKS) airbases from where they will operate within the framework of an Agile Combat Employment exercise during Aviation Detachment Rotation (AvRot) 21-2. The F-15s, both E and C models, come from RAF Lakenheath, UK, and belong to the 48th Fighter Wing, whilst the F-16s are assigned to the 480th Fighter Squadron, 52nd Fighter Wing, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany.

C-130J Super Hercules aircraft assigned to the 37th Airlift Squadron, 86th Airlift Wing, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, are also supporting AvRot 21-2.

While the F-15Cs and F-16s went to Krzesiny AB, the F-15Es landed at Łask. The 86th AW’s C-130 will operate out of Chièvres AB, Belgium, to disperse, organize and generate airlift for the ACE event.

The USAF jets will be involved in interoperationability, joint procedures, and mission tactics training with the Polish 2nd Tactical Aviation Wing and the Polish Vipers. Two sorties a day are planned. The operations would also involve the Polish Fulcrums, Polska Zbrojna outlet reports.

This is not the first-ever visit of the U.S. F-15s to Poland: in July 2019, the U.S. F-15E Strike Eagles from the 4th FW out of Seymour Johnson AFB, NC, temporarily deployed to Spangdahlem, landed at Powidz AB as a part of the Rapid Forge exercise. Dealing with the Vipers, in the same period (June 2019), Spangdahlem’s F-16s deployed to Krzesiny AB for bilatelar training with the Polish Air Force, as a part of AvRot 19-2.

U.S. Air Force F-15 in Poland
One of the 48th Fighter Wing Eagles landing at Krzesiny. (All images credit: Paweł Nowak/EPKS Spotters)

The American combat aircraft will start flying the first missions after a short period of orientation required to get the U.S. aircrews acquainted with the specific nature of the Polish airspace and local procedures. Polska Zbrojna reports that Cpt. Michał Kolad, the spokesman for Łask AB, stated that air combat training is one of the elements of the deployment. Defensive air/territory defense sorties have also been planned, as well as strike missions and aerial refueling operations. The deployment is to end with COMAO (Composite Air Operations) setting sorties, that are to be supported by NATO AWACS.

“Opportunities to train alongside our Polish allies are incredibly valuable and critically important,” said Gen. Jeff Harrigian, U.S. Air Forces Europe-Air Forces Africa commander in a public statement. “It allows us to hone our combat skills, build lasting relationships and learn to operate seamlessly as a combined force. The reoccurring aviation detachment rotations make both nations stronger by developing highly capable Airmen ready to deliver combat airpower, anytime and anywhere.”

A 480th FS F-16.

According to the U.S. Air Force, the Agile Combat Employment (ACE) concept envisions the use of agile operations to generate resilient airpower in a contested environment: “ACE is 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 ACE concepts to increase agility, resiliency and lethality in all air operations.”

Following the ACE exercise, the 48 FW will conduct bilateral training with the Polish air force to maintain joint readiness while building interoperability capabilities.

Another shot of an Eagle arriving in Poland on Apr. 19, 2021.
About Jacek Siminski
Standing contributor for TheAviationist. Aviation photojournalist. Co-Founder of Expert in linguistics, Cold War discourse, Cold War history and policy and media communications.