LASK AIR BASE, Poland --- Four F-16 Fighting Falcons, two F-22 Raptors and a C-130 Hercules arrived at Lask Air Base Aug. 31.
The Airmen and aircraft are in Poland for separate flying training events with allies to demonstrate the countries' shared commitment to the collective security of NATO and the enduring peace and stability of the region.
"Our friendship and partnership as allies through NATO afford us the ability to train every day as we improve the interoperability between all of our forces," said Maj. Gen. Christopher Bence, the 3rd Air Force and 17th Expeditionary Air Force vice commander.
The aviation detachment at Lask AB has previously hosted rotations of F-16s, A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, KC-135 Stratotankers and C-130s from deployed active-duty, Guard, and Reserve units to conduct bilateral training with the Polish Air Force since 2011, operating under the squadron's credo: "Razem Silniejsi -- Stronger Together."
"Of course, it all starts with partnerships, and it starts here with our aviation detachment led by Lt. Col. Jack Harman as we continue forge our relationship as allies and, most importantly, as friends," the general said.
The F-16s are from the 480th Fighter Squadron at Spangdahlem AB, Germany, and they will participate in the aviation detachment rotation 15-4. The unit will later be joined by the 606th Air Control Squadron, also at Spangdahlem AB, and additional F-16s from Wisconsin Air National Guard’s 176th Fighter Squadron.
The upcoming rotation, which is projected to be one of the largest since the detachments creation, will focus on maintaining joint readiness and building interoperability capabilities between the Polish and U.S. air forces.
"This is our 19th rotation in the last two and a half years," said Lt. Col. Jack Harman, the Detachment 1, 52nd Operations Group commander. "The relationship with our Polish allies is strong and growing."
While not part of the detachments rotation, the F-22s and their respective operations, maintenance and mission support Airmen from the 95th FS at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, briefly visited Łask AB for familiarization within the European airspace.
The forward deployment of the Raptors to Spangdahlem AB Aug. 28 serves as part of the inaugural F-22 training deployment to Europe and is funded by the European Reassurance Initiative, which provides support to bolster the security of NATO allies and partners in Europe while demonstrating the Air Force’s commitment to regional and global security.
"This is the first deployment of the F-22 as we continue to build our partnership and train and work together to improve us as allies and as a nation on how we will ultimately fight if we had to," Bence said.
The general said that the 95th FS Airmen will continue to train side by side with allies to be able to prove how the U.S. Air Force can operate a fifth-generation fighter in Europe.
"We continually rotate U.S. forces from the U.S. into Europe, and this is a part of the training rotation," he said. "We look forward to continue to prove that fifth-generation aircraft can operate in Europe as we set the foundation for the future of the F-35(A Lightning II) coming to Europe in just the next few years."
The F-22s later returned to Spangdahlem AB to continue their training deployment.