Fighters head to Eastern Europe as tensions rise

Fighters head to Eastern Europe as tensions rise

Russia’s disruptive behavior in Ukraine has prompted pushback from NATO leadership and has sparked U.S. and EU members to meet in Brussels today to discuss further sanctions against its economy.

As leaders discuss future penalties, two F-16 fighter jets will participate in an Operation Atlantic Resolve exercise in Estonia for the next 48 hours, said Capt. Sybil Taunton, spokeswoman for USAFE-AFAFRICA.

Members from the 31st Fighter Wing at Aviano Air Base, Italy, will join their Estonian counterparts for a Joint Terminal Attack Controller exercise, Taunton said.

Taunton said that JTAC close-air support is Estonia’s primary contribution to NATO air domain efforts.

The new year will also bring more fighter exercises — the 48th Fighter Wing, RAF Lakenheath, England, will send F-15s to Spain in January for a month long NATO-led exercise, Taunton said. The number of F-15s remains undisclosed for operational security reasons, she said, and the countries participating is still in the planning phase.

The 52nd Fighter Wing, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, and the 100 Air Refueling Wing, RAF Mildenhall, England, recently participated in NATO-led exercise Noble Justification in October. Six F-16s and two KC-135 air refueling aircraft participated in the exercise held in France.

Also in October, almost 50 airmen and three C-130 Hercules from the Illinois Air National Guard’s 182nd Air Wing joined their Polish counterparts at the 33rd Air Base, home of the Aviation Detachment at Powidz Air Base, Poland, for exercise Aviation Detachment 15-1.

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