US plans $200 million buildup of European air bases flanking Russia

Shawn Snow — Air Force Times Dec 18, 2017

F-22. Click to enlarge

F-22.

The U.S. is planning to spend more than $200 million to repair and build U.S. military structures and installations on air bases that dot much of Eastern Europe, part of an ongoing initiative to deter Russian aggression.

The fiscal 2018 annual defense legislation, signed into law Dec. 12 by President Donald Trump, authorizes the Air Force secretary to purchase land and build installations outside of the United States. This year’s defense spending plan includes roughly $214 million to construct installations in Iceland, Norway and much of Eastern Europe.

The funds are part of the European Deterrence Initiative or EDI. Formerly known as the European Reassurance Initiative, the EDI was initiated several months after the Russian annexation of Crimea and subsequent violence in eastern Ukraine, where still today Russian forces back Ukrainian separatists.

“As we continue to address the dynamic security environment in Europe, EDI funding increases our capabilities to deter and defend against Russian aggression,” reads an EDI fact sheet. “Additionally, these significant investments will further galvanize U.S. support to the collective defense of our NATO Allies, as well as bolster the security and capacity of our U.S. partners.”

STEALTH, RECON ASSETS

In what appears to be a build-up reminiscent of the Cold War, some of these bases will temporarily house high-tech stealth fighters like the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Strike Fighter and reconnaissance assets to hunt down Russian subs lurking in the North and Baltic Seas.

“While we can’t provide specific details on future operations and locations, we continuously look for opportunities for our fifth-generation aircraft to conduct interoperability training with our allies and partners in the European theater,” said Maj. Juan Martinez, a spokesperson for U.S. European Command.

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