South Carolina Air National Guard 169th Fighter Wing F-16s have deployed to Poland.
An aviation detachment of F-16 Block 52 Fighting Falcons took off from McEntire Joint National Guard Base in South Carolina May 28 in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve. The F-16s are deploying to Lask Air Base, Poland for a bilateral training exercise. The exercise is held every year by U.S. Air Forces Europe and U.S. Air Forces Africa, and has been taking place since 2012.
Operation Atlantic Resolve has comprised a series of exercises and force augmentations throughout Europe, and has involved land, sea, air, and special operations forces components. The operation bolsters the region’s collective security and reassures allies and partner nations of the United States and NATO’s commitment to collective defense.
The South Carolina ANG pilots and maintainers will train alongside their Polish counterparts throughout the month of June. The United States and NATO are seeking to demonstrate their support of European allies through strengthened relationships and engagements throughout Europe.
The 169th Wing “Swamp Foxes” aviation detachment is only the latest deployment of both active duty Air Force and Air National Guard units to European nations feeling threatened by Russia after its invasion and annexation of the Crimea as well as increasingly hostile rhetoric as well as large-scale exercises, and incursions into European airspace.
In response to Russian aggression, NATO has stepped up its Baltic Air Policing mission with increased numbers of aircraft, and the latest Theater Security Package of 12 A-10 Warthogs, later joined by 12 F-15C Eagles, has been exercising with European partner nations beginning in February.