A total of eight modern F-35 jets together with a detachment of approx. 150 men and women are now deployed to the Polish 22nd Tactical Air Base at Malbork, some 60 kilometres southeast of Gdansk. They are now conducting familiarization flights preparing for taking over the NATO Air Policing mission under the control of Combined Air Operations Centre Uedem, Germany, in close cooperation with the Polish Air Force. On Monday, a formation of six F-35s took off from Malbork for their first training mission.
“It is a great experience to deploy our advance fifth generation jets here to Malbork,” said Lieutenant Colonel Guido Schols, Commander of the Netherlands F-35 detachment. “By sending eight F-35s, the Netherlands underline their commitment to collective security in the region and contribute to showing NATO presence in the air. Four of our jets are earmarked for the Air Policing mission and the other four will be available for training with our Allies. They can also be used immediately if the situation so requires,” he added.
The deployment enhances NATO’s force posture along the eastern flank. After Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, the Allies have deployed additional air defence assets that are employed under peacetime regulation to safeguard the skies and assure the population of the eastern member states.
Already in 2014, the Polish Air Base at Malbork was activated to receive Allied fighter detachments after Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea. The Netherlands were among the first Allies to deploy here and flew their F-16 jets out of Malbork under NATO Assurance Measures at the time.