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USAFE welcomes Poland to European F-35 User's Group

Gen. Jeff Harrigian, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander, presents Inspector of the Polish Air Force, Maj Gen Jacek Pszczola, an official invitation to the European F-35 Users Group, in Dęblin, Poland, Jan. 31, 2020. The users group is a formal and persistent venue where members share information, lessons learned and best practices as the F-35 aircraft are acquired and fielded. (U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt. Madeline Krpan)

Gen. Jeff Harrigian, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander, presents Inspector of the Polish Air Force, Maj. Gen. Jacek Pszczola, an official invitation to the European F-35 User’s Group, in Dęblin, Poland, Jan. 31, 2020. The user’s group is a formal and persistent venue where members share information, lessons learned and best practices as F-35 Lightning II aircraft are acquired and fielded. (U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt. Madeline Krpan)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany (AFNS) --

Gen. Jeff Harrigian, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander, presented a letter to Maj. Gen. Jacek Pszczoła, inspector of the Polish Air Force, welcoming Poland to the European F-35 User’s Group, in Dęblin, Poland, Jan. 31.

Poland is the ninth member of the European F-35 User’s Group, and the first country in Eastern Europe to transition to the F-35 Lightning II. Other participating nations include the U.S., Belgium, Denmark, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom. The European F-35 User’s Group is a formal and persistent venue where members share information, lessons learned and best practices as aircraft are acquired and fielded.

“Poland’s decision to acquire the F-35 demonstrates confidence in the aircraft, but more importantly, the strength of our relationship,” Harrigian said. “I look forward to the day the first F-35 arrives in Poland, and we pledge our support to help integrate this fifth-generation fighter capability into the Polish Air Force.”

In the years since the release of the U.S. military’s newest fighter aircraft, the F-35 has provided pilots unprecedented levels of lethality, survivability and situational awareness, allowing warfighters to engage and win in hostile environments. With the formal signing of the Letter of Offer & Acceptance in Dęblin, Poland commits to the purchase of 32 F-35 aircraft.

Col. John Echols, USAFE-AFAFRICA chief of 5th Generation Integration, echoed Harrigian’s appreciation for Poland’s commitment to the F-35 program and detailed how the addition of the aircraft in Eastern Europe will bolster NATO’s deterrence posture.

“Fifth generation fighters represent a revolutionary leap in technology and capability for the U.S. and our allies in the European theater,” Echols said. “The F-35’s ability to integrate and connect with forces across all domains is a force multiplier. Information is a critical commodity and the F-35’s ability to collect data, then connect and rapidly share that information with allied surface, maritime, space and cyber forces is a game-changer for 21st century coalition warfare.”

The delivery of future F-35s will strengthen the Polish Air Force, which currently operates a fleet of F-16 Fighting Falcons and legacy Mig-29s and Su-22s. The legacy aircraft are set to be replaced by the F-35, giving the Polish Air Force greater interoperability with NATO allies.

The F-35 is a fifth generation, multi-role fighter, with superior combat capability that is designed to integrate with fourth generation aircraft and complement the technology already in place.

The next meeting of the European F-35 Air Chiefs is scheduled for spring 2020 at Ramstein Air Base.

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