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The U.S. Air Force will be relocating 19 refueling tankers to the Powidz Air Base in western Poland in order to further strengthen NATO's eastern flank as the war in Ukraine continues.
The USAF European command confirmed in March that "American air tankers began working in their new main location in Poland," according to Zerohedge.
The relocation comes as part of operation "Copper Arrow" which is part of the U.S. military's effort in Europe to "strengthen security on NATO's eastern flank through forward deployed and stationed forces."
Colonel Timothy Foery, who is the advisor to the U.S. Air Force Reserve Commander said, "The cooperation of American air tankers with our NATO allies clearly shows how much we value our partnerships and how important it is to increase our interoperability."
Foery went on to state that an example of interoperability is evident when looking "at any photo of a KC-135 refueling a Polish F-16 or a KC-46 refueling a Finnish F/A-18."
All 3 types of refueling tankers used by the Air Force, the KC-10 Extender, the KC-135 Stratotanker, and the most recent KC-46 Pegasus, could all be sent to Poland.
Aircraft that are currently stationed at the Spangdahlem base in Germany are to be transferred to Powidz Air Base as Unit 1. According to top USAF officials, the relocation demonstrates, "the ability of U.S. command to quickly deploy large, credible combat forces and equipment throughout Europe."
The tankers that have been transferred to Poland are capable of refueling combat aircraft including the F-35A Lightning II, which is the world's most advanced fighter jet to date. Eight F-35 fighter jets from the Dutch Air Force have been stationed at the Malbork air base in Poland for several months and in conjunction with the U.S. tankers, the aircraft will extend the range of NATO air missions.
The presence of U.S. forces in Europe has steadily increased since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. The number of U.S. troops in Europe has increased from 80,000 to 100,000 since the invasion.
According to U.S. Ambassador to Warsa, Mark Brzezinski, more than 10,000 U.S. soldiers are currently in Poland.
Last month, the U.S. also opened its first permanent military base in Poland when it established a U.S. Army garrison in Poznan, which is located approximately 100km from Powedz. The garrison will support the V Corps of the Army, which oversees NATO missions in the east.
Poland is an important strategic location for the war in Ukraine as it shares more than 300 miles of border with the country and has been an important staging ground for NATO and a point of entry for foreigners assisting Ukraine.