Poland, US strike deal on air force deployment



Poland, US strike deal on air force deployment Warsaw: Poland has signed a deal with the United States on the deployment from 2013 of aircraft and training staff to help bolster the EU nation's military capacity, Poland's defence minister said on Monday.

"This agreement brings with something new, namely the permanent presence of American soldiers on Polish soil," minister Bogdan Klich told reporters in Warsaw after formally signing a memorandum on the deployments with US ambassador to Warsaw, Lee Feinstein.

"In this way, it prepares the permanent presence of American troops on Polish soil around 2018, in connection with the realisation of the most important project -- the anti-missile shield," Klich said, referring to the anti-missile shield project which NATO has adopted as its own.

While Brussels and Washington insist the missile shield is to ward off threats from so-called rogue states like Iran, Moscow sees the plan a security threat.

According to a Polish defence ministry statement the memorandum inked Monday foresees "the rotational deployment to Poland of the US multi-task F-16 aircraft and C-130 transport aircraft, supported by the US Air Force's Aviation Detachment deployed on a continuous basis".

It said there would be four annual rotations of aircraft and trainers, two of them involving F-16 fighters, with the first rotation of aircraft taking place in 2013.

Poland has a fleet of 48 state-of-the-art F-16 aircraft, and an F-16 base located in Lask, near the western Polish city of Poznan.

"We believe that this will become a regional hub for NATO air operations in Central Europe," US ambassador Feinstein told reporters.

"This aviation detachment also has an important consequence for future regional cooperation with our other NATO allies working together with Poland and the United States and even with other partners," Feinstein said, without naming the partners in question.

PTI