U.S. Deploys KC-135s, 500 Additional Troops to Europe

The new troop deployments are in support of the 7,000 U.S. troops sent in recent weeks to bolster NATO allies amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The U.S. is sending KC-135 refueling aircraft to Europe in support of NATO. [File photo courtesy: U.S. Air Force]

As Russia's invasion of Ukraine presses on into a second week, the U.S. is deploying an additional 500 troops to Europe in support of NATO, including a number of KC-135 refueling aircraft, the Pentagon announced.

"These additional personnel are being positioned to respond obviously to the current security environment caused by Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. And certainly, to help reinforce and bolster deterrence and defense capabilities of the NATO alliance," Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said Monday afternoon. 

"[W]e said before when we deployed the additional 7,000 that there would be associated enablers with them. This is part of that support."

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby

The deployments were ordered over the weekend by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III and are considered "temporary moves," Kirby said. 

As part of the plan, a number of KC-135 Stratotanker aerial refueling aircraft from Fairfield Air Force Base in Spokane, Washington, along with 150 airmen will be routed to NATO's Eastern Flank. "They're planned right now to deploy to Souda Bay, Greece, to provide additional area or fueling support to the commander of U.S. European Command," Kirby said.

Also included is an air support operation center from Fort Stewart, Georgia, along with about 40 personnel, he added. "Right now, they're planning to deploy to Poland into Romania, and again, to help provide additional command and control for U.S. European Command flight operations," Kirby said.

A modular ammunition ordnance company composed of about 300 soldiers from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, along with a support maintenance company from Fort Stewart, will also be deployed to Germany.

"[W]e said before when we deployed the additional 7,000 that there would be associated enablers with them," Kirby said. "This is part of that support."

Late last month, Austin ordered the deployment of about 800 soldiers based in Italy into the Baltic region as well as the deployment of 20 AH-64 Apache attack helicopters from Germany. Another dozen Apaches were to be routed to Poland from Greece, the Department of Defense said.

The U.S. Air Force has also deployed F-35 Lightning II fighter jets to the Baltic Sea and Black Sea region in support of NATO’s enhanced air policing mission. 

In addition to deployments announced Monday, the U.S. Air Force has also repositioned the following in support of NATO’s policing mission:

  • Six F-35 Lightning II: 34th Fighter Squadron, 388th Fighter Wing, Hill Air Force Base, Utah, deployed to the Baltic Sea and Black Sea region
  • Eight F-15E Strike Eagle: 336th Fighter Squadron, 4th Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, deployed to Poland
  • F-16 Fighting Falcons: 52nd Fighter Wing, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, deployed to Romania
  • Six KC-135 Stratotankers: 100th Aerial Refueling Wing, RAF Mildenhall, U.K., deployed to Ramstein Air Base, Germany
Kimberly is managing editor of FLYING Digital.

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