Spangdahlem F-16s strengthen NATO Air Policing mission

Multiple US F-16C/D Fighting Falcons from the 52nd Fighter Wing at Spangdahlem AFB, Germany, landed at Łask Air Base, Poland, on January 4 to work alongside the current deployed units on NATO Baltic Air Policing and Enhanced Air Policing detachments.

The US F-16s are scheduled to work alongside Polish Air Force F-16C/D Block 52+ Fighting Falcons currently deployed in Šiauliai, Lithuania, and Belgian Air Force F-16A/B MLUs in Ämari , Estonia.

During the deployment which is labelled as “long-planned” will see fighters from all three nations practice advanced airborne maneuvers and work in close conjunction with Combined Air Operations Centre Uedem (CAOCUE) to enhance command and control procedures.

USAF F-16 Fighting Falcons 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. USAF/ Senior Airman Ali Stewart

Aircrew of the Spangdahlem F-16s will complete Air Policing qualifications prior to performing Air Policing duties. CAOCUE oversees all Air Policing missions in the Baltic region and directs any scrambles against unknown aircraft.

The main rationale of the US deployment to eastern Europe is to increase interoperability with allies and rehearse rapid deployment of aircraft to alternate bases.

Brig Gen Joel Carey, Allied Air Command Deputy Chief of Staff Operations, said: "The supplemental US fighters will provide improved capabilities in the region and demonstrate a seamless integration into the long-standing Baltic and enhanced Air Policing missions.

"These deployments demonstrate the Alliance's ability to rapidly and effectively deploy assets to vital regions to assure partners and safeguard Allied airspace," Carey added.