DUPETIMEDOUT:Florida Guard F-15 unit deploying to Europe
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — The U.S. is sending another rotation of combat aircraft to Europe to bolster security in response to the ongoing Ukraine crisis.
The Air Force this week will deploy 12 F-15 Eagle fighter jets and about 200 airmen from the 125th Fighter Wing, a Florida Air National Guard unit from Jacksonville, Fla., according to information from U.S. Air Forces in Europe – U.S. Air Forces Africa. It’s the first Air National Guard theater security package to deploy to Europe in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve, USAFE officials said.
There were no details on which day the aircraft would depart or make their first stop, but they are expected to be in place and mission-ready by mid-April.
The unit will operate from several locations in Eastern Europe, including Leeuwarden, Netherlands, and Graf Ignatievo, Bulgaria, according to USAFE.
The theater security package “is a strategic capability that allows the Air Force greater flexibility against evolving threats,” Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson, 3rd Air Force and 17th Expeditionary Air Force commander, said in a USAFE statement. It’s “another way the Air Force presents forces at the right time to the right combatant commander. It reassures our allies and partner nations that our commitment to European security is a priority.”
Operation Atlantic Resolve is a Pentagon effort to show its commitment to peace and stability in the region and reassure NATO allies in the wake of the Ukraine crisis.
In February, the Air Force deployed its first theater security package to Europe — 12 A-10C Thunderbolt aircraft and about 300 airmen from the 355th Fighter Wing at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. While the unit initially flew to Spangdahlem Air Base, it’s since moved around, training recently at RAF Lakenheath in the United Kingdom.
Theater security package rotations are expected to last for about six months, depending on mission and U.S. European Command requirements, USAFE officials said.
The Ukraine ceasefire, signed on Feb. 12, seems to be holding, though international monitors have not yet been given full access to contested zones, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told the Washington Post this week.