USAFE deployment to Eastern Europe

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saintwarrior

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Unread post30 Nov 2015, 16:20

Hello guys,

In the background of events going in Ukraine and Syria I would like to discuss the pros and cons of possibility to re-deploy USAFE forces in Eastern Europe, in particular those stationed in Lakenheath (48th Fighter Wing, F-15C Eagle/F-15E Strike Eagle) and F-16CJ Wild Weasels from 52nd Fighter Squadron in Spandahlem.

Keeping those jets in their current bases is nearly useless because in case of any serious escalation in Europe (in particular in Baltic States, Poland and Finland) all of them will have either to: a) ask for flight corridors from France and Germany, Sweden and Norway in order to reach Northern-Eastern Europe; b) will have to fly through deadly Kaliningrad-Gotland Island gap in Baltic Sea heavily covered with Russian SAMs and need aerial refueling;

Meanwhile here in Baltics we have two fully operational, NATO standard equipped airbases in Zokniai (Lithuania) and Amari (Estonia) with the following specifications:

Zokniai Airbase (near Siauliai, Lithuania): two runways 3500 and 3280 meters capable of operating all types of aircraft, including tactical airforce (F-15/F-16) as well as strategic bombers like B-52 or B-1B Lancer;

Amari Airbase (Estonia): runway 2750 meters, fully equipped to NATO standards for the operation of the aircraft like F-16, A-10 and similar.

Benefits of re-deploying USAFE from Lakenheath and Spangdahlem to Baltic bases:

- instant availability in the possible theater of operations;
- possibility to fly non-refueled sorties in Baltic, Barents, and Norwegian Sea regions;
- flat surface in the region and sea allows terrain following flights for radar avoidance;
- CAS availability for the US/NATO ground forces in the Suwalki Pass (narrow land corridor that leads to Baltics between Kaliningrad and Belarus);

Cons:

- area is supposedly covered by Russian S-400 sams stationed in Kaliningrad region but in any case it will be necessary to conduct EW/SEAD/DEAD missions against them in case of possible escalation;
- area is supposedly targeted by "Iskander" tactical missiles, but this can be sorted out by installing Patriot batteries, conducting sorties from available tactical aircraft in the region (like Scud hunt in Gulf War) covered with B-52/B-1B strikes from remote airfields;
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tincansailor

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Unread post02 Dec 2015, 12:23

Baltic airfields would be too vulnerable to Russian attack. Kaliningrad would have to be overrun by Polish and German troops before the S-400 and Iskander threat your talking about would be fully eliminated. The unfortunate reality is that Russian troops would occupy Baltic territory before NATO Forces would drive them out. We wouldn't defeat Russian Forces on day one of a full invasion. It would most likely be on day 30.
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laos

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Unread post02 Dec 2015, 14:11

Another factor that need to be taken into account is that base should have facilities for families of the airman based there, like English language schools and medical facilities. Those facilities are already in place in UK and Germany. Who is going to pay for their construction in Baltic States ? I doubt that host countries are willing to pay for them. Lithuanians charged money for services for foreign troops there.
As far as I know you do not have training ranges for bomb and gun runs.
In Siauliai there were incidents of ambushing foreign troops while off-duty, stilling their property etc. Those information are few years old from the beginning of Baltic Air Policy mission so the situation might have improved since then. (Hope so)
Lakenheath is helpful as stepping stone for trans-Atlantic flights.
Last edited by laos on 02 Dec 2015, 14:59, edited 1 time in total.
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kukemaim

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Unread post02 Dec 2015, 14:32

laos wrote:Another factor that need to be taken into account is that base should have facilities for families of the airman based there, like English language schools and medical facilities. Those facilities are already in place in UK and Germany. Who is going to pay for their construction in Baltic States ? I doubt that host counties are willing to pay for them. Lithuanians charged money for services for foreign troops there.
As far as I know you do not have training ranges for bomb and gun runs.
In Siauliai there were incidents of ambushing foreign troops while off-duty, stilling their property etc. Those information are few years old from the beginning of Baltic Air Policy mission so the situation might have improved since then. (Hope so)
Lakenheath is helpful as stepping stone for trans-Atlantic flights.


Actually Baltics (at least the estonians) are quite motivated to pay the bill. Of course one should remember that we can't afford to pay for everything, otherwise we would have our own airforce :lol:
But Ă„mari's facilities are being expanded as we speak but certainly not for such a long term deployments that would include families. The money comes outside the 2% of GDP that we already spend
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saintwarrior

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Unread post02 Dec 2015, 15:10

laos wrote:Another factor that need to be taken into account is that base should have facilities for families of the airman based there, like English language schools and medical facilities. Those facilities are already in place in UK and Germany. Who is going to pay for their construction in Baltic States? I doubt that host counties are willing to pay for them. Lithuanians charged money for services for foreign troops there. As far as I know you do not have training ranges for bomb and gun runs. In Siauliai there were incidents of ambushing foreign troops while off-duty, stilling their property etc. Those information are few years old from the beginning of Baltic Air Policy mission so the situation might have improved since then. (Hope so) Lakenheath is helpful as stepping stone for trans-Atlantic flights.


USAFE units are more than welcome in Lithuania now, we are increasing the financing of the whole military sector by more than 2 percent of the GDP, so it will be possible to arrange all housing, social, educational and other facilities. The country is also very English speaking - you will find that all youth speaks English fluent and many older people as well. U.S. Army ground forces are also arriving here on rotation basis without any difficulties. There no crime accidents at all now as police uses zero tolerance policy and reacts very swift to everything, anyone may get detained for just being drunk in the public.

As concerning Lakenheath and Spangdahlem - they are relicts of the Warsaw Pact era. Remote airfields (like Lajes on Azores) with nearly zero effective combat use in case of serious conflict or escalation. They are located too far from potential areas of operation, with the need to fly across Europe with flight pass permissions and aerial refuellings, and in case of war at least Baltics region will be blocked by Russian forces in Kaliningrad region across Polish Suwalki Pass (narrow land corridor) and over the sea (Gotland Island gap).

I think it is worth considering entrenching here now but not waiting if something happens.

Training ranges are also present here - Gaiziunai range (combined arms), Rukla (combined arms) as well as similar sites in Latvia and Estonia.
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slapshot!

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Unread post02 Dec 2015, 21:18

Maybe there will be a build up of more units being stationed in Europe because of this. Maybe not the same as during the Cold War, but I can see a few more fighter squadrons being stationed in at Spangdahlem, Lakenheath or Aviano in the future.
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MD

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Unread post02 Dec 2015, 22:08

saintwarrior wrote: Remote airfields (like Lajes on Azores) with nearly zero effective combat use in case of serious conflict or escalation. They are located too far from potential areas of operation, .


Lajes isn't intended to be a combat base, unlike a Diego Garcia. It's mostly a transit and support base for fuel/RON, etc, of tanker/transports and tactical aircraft making Atlantic crossings.
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laos

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Unread post03 Dec 2015, 12:04

To provide security to our Eastern European NATO allies in a cheap and an efficient way, we should reactive REFORGER plan. This time the location of the depots should be more or less 200-400 miles from Russian and Byelorussian borders. A battalion or fighter squadron located in Baltic States will not change the picture of a conflict with Russia, 4-8 ABCT and 10-20 squadrons will.
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saintwarrior

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Unread post03 Dec 2015, 12:24

laos wrote:To provide security to our Eastern European NATO allies in a cheap and an efficient way, we should reactive REFORGER plan. This time the location of the depots should be more or less 200-400 miles from Russian and Byelorussian borders. A battalion or fighter squadron located in Baltic States will not change the picture of a conflict with Russia, 4-8 ABCT and 10-20 squadrons will.


Well the current situation is that we are receiving several hundreds of U.S. armour (Strykers, M1A2 SEP Abrams, M88A2 combat evac vehicles, Paladin self propelled howitzers etc.) to be stationed across Baltic states - but these combat vehicles will be just put for storage, I mean there will be no personell, and I am not sure if there will be any ammunition. Like it is shown on this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZ0hZL_sB0A

Also there is no air defence, no CAS support, air assets limited for air space patrolling duties only. I don't know what is the actual efficiency of this plan.
Defeat yourself. Defeat your rivals. Life's always on the edge.

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