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.