Permanent U.S. F-16 detachment in Poland

After talks in Washington on Thursday, Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski and US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton confirmed that an American air force base will be permanently stationed in Poland.

“As was announced by our two presidents in December, we plan to establish a new permanent US air detachment in Poland, build missile defenses in Poland, and as agreed at the NATO summit, develop a contingency plan in the region.” Hilary Clinton told journalists.

The base will be served by a rotating US squadron of F-16s.

The F-16 is a multirole jet fighter aircraft originally developed by General Dynamics for theUnited States Air Force. Designed as a lightweight day fighter, it evolved into a successful all-weather multirole aircraft. Over 4,400 aircraft have been built since production was approved in 1976.

In addition to USAF active, reserve, and air national guard units, the F16 aircraft is used by the USAF aerial demonstration team, theU.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, and as an adversary/aggressor aircraft by the United States Navy. The F-16 has also been selected to serve in the air forces of 25 other nations.

The new European missile defence system will replace plans by the previous Bush administration to house an anti-ballistic missile unit in Poland with a radar system in the Czech Republic – a plan later abandoned by President Obama.

On ties between Washington and Warsaw, Hilary Clinton thanked Poland for its contribution to the fight against “extremism in Afghanistan”, where the nation currently has 2,500 troops stationed.

Radek Sikorski emphasised Poland and the United States’ united stand on the recent contested elections in Belarus and the crackdown that followed by President Lukashenko’s regime, with mass arrests and years-long prison sentences given out by courts in Minsk.

“The EU and the United States are responsible not only for EU’s southern but also for its eastern neighborhood, and this is demonstrated by Poland’s and the United States’ unified response to the rigged elections in Belarus,” said Sikorski, who has been in the US since Sunday evening.

Minister Sikorski invited Secretary Clinton to visit Poland in October and reiterated an invitation to President Obama to attend a meeting of Central European leaders in Warsaw this May.


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