Practicing with Poles under Pressure

F-16s deployed to Poland began a large-scale air defense exercise from Lask Air Base with British, French, Polish, and NATO aircraft. The 18 F-16s from Spangdahlem AB, Germany, are the largest rotation to Poland yet and the first Air Force jets to fly in Poland’s Eagle Talon exercise, according to a June 12 release. Polish airmen “want to be better and more cooperative with our NATO allies,” said Polish Lt. Lukasz Gradzinski. “The exercise is an excellent opportunity to exchange experience with people who are more proficient with more combat hours,” he added. French Mirage 2000 fighters joined the US and Polish F-16s, controlled by Royal Air Force and NATO AWACs aircraft, during the five-day, large-force employment training that concludes on June 13. Air Force ground crews have conducted hot-pit refuelings for the first time in Poland, practicing relaunching fighters without time-consuming engine shutdowns. (Lask report by 2nd Lt. Katrina Cheesman)