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F-22 fighter jets permanently in Poland? Not so fast

March 2, 2016 (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Joe W. McFadden/Air Force)
U.S. European Command is disputing a secondary report from an  aviation enthusiast blog saying that F-22 stealth fighter jets could be heading to Lask or Powdicz Air Base, Poland, as part of a permanent rotation in Europe. 

EUCOM officials say a report from the  Rzeczpospolita Daily, a Polish media outlet, misquoted the potential move.

Officials told Air Force Times "no permanent basing" is being discussed in the near term, only quick-rotation exercises with the partner nation.

"There are so many elements that would need to be approved to do that," a senior defense official in EUCOM said on Wednesday. "Approval [to base aircraft] would need to go through the host nations, EUCOM, NATO ... there's just so many hurdles." 

The F-22 has made headlines in Poland before: Early in September, two F-22 Raptors from Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, participated briefly in an aviation detachment exercise with F-16s and a C-130 at Lask.

"This is the first deployment of the F-22 as we continue to build our partnership and train and work together to improve us as allies and as a nation on how we will ultimately fight if we had to," Maj. Gen. Christopher Bence, 3rd Air Force and 17th Expeditionary Air Force vice commander, said at the time.

Their visit was funded through the European Reassurance Initiative, a U.S. responsive action to provocations from Russia. 

"We continually rotate U.S. forces from the U.S. into Europe, and this is a part of the training rotation," Bence said. "We look forward to continue to prove that fifth-generation aircraft can operate in Europe as we set the foundation for the future of the F-35(A Lightning II) coming to Europe in just the next few years."

Other fighters, such as F-15s and F-16s, have also been rotating through the theater under Operation Atlantic Resolve, the Pentagon's name for exercises to reassure NATO and partner allies.

Oriana Pawlyk covers deployments, cyber, Guard/Reserve, uniforms, physical training, crime and operations in the Middle East, Europe and Pacific for Air Force Times. She was the Early Bird Brief editor in 2015. Email her at opawlyk@airforcetimes.com.

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