In Poland, USAF’s Brown Talks F-35 and Future Force Rotations

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. met with his counterparts in the Polish military this week to discuss U.S. force rotations and Poland’s future F-35 fighters. He also visited with USAF Airmen deployed there. 

Brown met with Chief of the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces Gen. Rajmund Andrzejczak and the air chief, Inspector of the Air Force Maj. Gen. Jacek Pszczola, during his Dec. 18-19 trip. 

He also spoke with several Commander of the General Command of the Armed Forces Gen. Jaroslaw Mika, his deputy commander, Maj. Gen. Cezary Wiśniewski, and Deputy Commander of the Armed Forces Operational Command Maj. Gen. Dariusz Malinowski. 

According to a readout provided by the Air Force, Brown’s discussions focused on support for Ukraine in its defense against Russia’s invasion and Poland’s “vital role in helping the Ukrainian people.”  

The meeting comes some nine months after Poland’s government offered to transfer its MiG-29 fighters to the U.S., presumably for transfer to Ukraine, in exchange for an opportunity to buy used American aircraft. The Pentagon rebuffed that idea as “untenable.” But Poland has become a critical staging ground and logistics hub for the billions of dollars’ worth of military and humanitarian aid pouring into Ukraine from the U.S. and its NATO allies, including Poland, which has donated weaponry of its own. 

“The two sides agreed on the importance of continuing to coordinate closely on Ukraine security assistance,” according to the USAF readout. 

Brown praised Poland as a “critical NATO ally.” U.S. Air Force fighters have operating at Lask Air Base, about 100 miles from Warsaw, for months now. F-16s from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, deployed there in January before Russia’s invasion even began, and F-35s from the Vermont Air National Guard followed in February. In August, those F-35s were replaced by F-22s from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. Those jets returned home earlier this month. The Air Force has not publicly announced any replacement. 

U.S. fighters operating from Lask supported NATO’s air policing and air shielding mission, responding to threats along the alliance’s eastern border. 

The Polish air force is anticipating getting the first of 32 F-35A fighters in 2024. The new F-35s will increase opportunities for the U.S. and Polish forces to operate together; Brown and his counterparts discussed “future opportunities to integrate and train together,” the readout said. 

Before leaving Poland, Brown also met with the U.S. Ambassador to Poland Mark Brzezinski.