Poland, U.S. Sign Agreement on Air Force Cooperation
On Monday, Poland signed a memorandum of understanding with the United States that envisages deploying United States Air Force in Poland.
Under the agreement, endorsed by U.S. President Barack Obama during his visit to Warsaw last month, a group of US experts will be stationed in Poland as of the end of 2012, while rotational deployment of U.S. multi-task F-16 warplanes and C-130 Hercules transport aircraft will start as of 2013.
This agreement prepares the permanent presence of American troops on Polish soil around 2018, in connection with the realization of the most important project – the anti-missile shield, which is to ward off threats from so-called rogue states like Iran, minister Klich said.
Permanent NATO detachment in Poland from 2012?
Polish Defence Minister Bogdan Klich and US Ambassador Lee Feinstein signed the agreement after a slight delay, as it was expected that US President Barack Obama would sign the agreement during his visit to Warsaw in May.
The details of the bilateral agreement are to be negotiated in 2012, with joint US-Polish military exercises expected to commence from 2013.
The memorandum establishes that joint Polish-American exercises may be carried out on Polish military training grounds, with the allowance for contingents from other countries to take part.
The US Air Force base is to be the first NATO detachment to be stationed in Poland, as when the country became a member of the pact in 1997, the North Atlantic Council issued a statement that there was no need to station large NATO detachments in new member states.
Three air bases which are to be used by the US Air Force are mentioned in the agreement: Krzesiny and Lask, where currently a combined total of 48 Polish F-16s are stationed, as well as Powidz, where eight C-130 Hercules transport aircraft are held.
According to unofficial information from Poland’s Defence Ministry, the number of aircraft and maintenance personnel may also increase thanks to the agreement.
Up until now, Polish pilots undertook training in the USA, as well as irregular training missions in Belgium, France, or more recently, in Spain. (jb/ss)