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U.S. Air Force To Send Warplanes To Europe For Training Missions


The Air Force is sending more warplanes to Europe to take part in training missions with Baltic states and East European allies. As NPR's Tom Bowman reports, the move comes as Russia is beefing up its own arsenal along its border with Eastern Europe.

TOM BOWMAN, BYLINE: This fall, A-10 Thunderbolt, the slow-moving ground-attack jet, nicknamed The Warthog, will head to Europe. Twelve of them will deploy from Moody Air Force Base in Georgia. Pentagon officials already announced additional Army tanks and other heavy armor to Central and Eastern Europe. Gen. Frank Gorenc, commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe, says the aircraft will work with ground units.

COMMANDER FRANK GORENC: So we're giving them some very high-fidelity opportunities to do high-end quality training.

BOWMAN: Training that includes U.S. Army and allied ground forces calling in mock bombing strikes with the assistance of air controllers and U.S. pilots flying patrols with Eastern European allies.

GORENC: We've been increasing our presence and doing a lot more training events with air forces in Bulgaria and Romania and Poland and in the Baltics.

BOWMAN: Gorenc says the added U.S. aircraft is also designed to deter Russia, which seized Crimea and is also supporting pro-Russian forces in Ukraine. Russia, the general said, is also sending more weapons to its bases bordering Eastern Europe, including long-range missiles and its most sophisticated warplanes. Tom Bowman, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tom Bowman is a NPR National Desk reporter covering the Pentagon.