Seven F-16 fighters from the US Air Force’s 31 Fighter Wing flew 5 September 2014 from their home base in Aviano, Italy, to 32 Tactical Air Base in Lask (32 BLT in Łasku) in Poland. They will operate from the Polish airbase at least a month ahead and thereby continue the rotating US Air Force presence there started at 9 November 2012. Until earlier this year that rotation was mainly focused on transport aircraft, but then Russia started acting weird at the Crimean peninsula and in Eastern Ukraine.
The American Vipers will train together with Polish pilots and units of the Polish Army during the multinational exercise Anaconda-14. Supporting personnel flew in on 4 September on board a USAF C-130J Hercules.
The new USAF F-16 rotation starts while five Royal Netherlands Air Force Fighting Falcons and 100 Dutch personnel have set up camp at Malbork Airbase (22 BLT) further to the north in Poland. Both NATO detachments provide not only valuable training for the Polish armed forces, but also serve as front-line (Malbork) or back-up unit (Lask) for the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission that is aimed as deterrence for possible Russian ambitions to again occupy and annex Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – often refered to as “the Baltic States”.
Source: Polish Ministry of Defence with additional reporting by Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger