Air Force Magazine
February 16, 2022

USAF Sends F-35s, B-52s, F-15s to Europe as NATO Ministers Opt for More Deterrence

The U.S. Air Force sent F-35 fighters to Germany days after a B-52 Bomber Task Force arrived in England to reassure Allies amid increasing tensions in Eastern Europe. The deployments come as defense ministers from across the NATO alliance decided Feb. 16….

The F-35s deployed from the 34th Fighter Squadron, 388th Fighter Wing, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, to Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, on Feb. 16 to enhance NATO’s defense posture, according to U.S. Air Forces in Europe.

“This deployment is being conducted in full coordination with the German government and NATO military authorities, and…to increase readiness and enhance NATO’s collective defense during this period of uncertainty,” USAFE spokesperson Capt. Erik Anthony said in a statement.

B-52s from the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., also arrived at RAF Fairford, U.K….Eight additional F-15s from the 336th Fighter Squadron, 4th Fighter Wing, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., deployed to Lask Air Base, Poland, on Feb. 14 to augment the eight F-15s already there from the 48th Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath, U.K….Eight F-16s from the 52nd Fighter Wing at Spangdahlem also deployed to Fetesti Air Base, Romania, on Feb. 11. The fighter jets in both locations will take part in NATO enhanced air policing missions and joint training.


The aircraft movements are in addition to deploying 3,000 Soldiers from the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division to Poland and 1,000 from a U.S. Stryker squadron at Vilseck, Germany, to Romania. Another 8,500 U.S. troops are on high alert in the United States to act as a NATO Response Force, if called upon.


The regular winter meeting of the alliance’s 30 defense ministers has been transformed into a Russia-Ukraine crisis counsel, with Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg setting a somber tone on Day 1.


[D]efense ministers opted to further strengthen the eastern flank against potential Russian aggression with new battle groups that would be positioned in central and eastern, south-eastern Europe. France has already offered to lead one such battlegroup in Romania. Stoltenberg said the Alliance would report back on details “within weeks.”


The United States has sent $200 million worth of recently authorized defense assistance in 17 aircraft, including 180 tons of ammunition, anti-take javelins, and shoulder-fired grenades. Likewise, air defense Stingers from Lithuania arrived to Ukraine Feb. 13 and Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov on Twitter thanked Canada for committing lethal weapons and ammunition.

In brief pre-ministerial comments alongside Stoltenberg, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III underscored the U.S. commitment to the NATO alliance.

“This is a very challenging time,” he said. “We are committed to Article 5, and also the principles of collective security. You can expect that that commitment will remain rock-solid going forward.”