The RNLAF F-35s are operating alongside the Polish MiG-29s at Malbork.
Eight F-35A Lightning II jets have been deployed by the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) to Malbork, Poland, to support the air policing effort on the NATO Eastern Flank. The 22nd Tactical Air Base in Malbork has frequently been used by NATO within the scope of BAP (Baltic Air Policing) since Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea took place in 2014. So far, the base has hosted Dutch, Portuguese, Italian, and Turkish jets. At the time, the Malbork deployments were done under the NATO Assurance Measures.
Two separate roles have been assigned to the Dutch F-35s in Malbork: first, they would be working as an air policing asset in the region, and they would also promote the cooperation between the NATO allies on the eastern flank. “Four of our jets are earmarked for the Air Policing mission and the other four will be available for training with our Allies. They can also be used immediately if the situation so requires,” RNLAF was cited to say in the official NATO Allied Air Command release.
The jets are currently engaged in familiarization flights preparing to take over the NATO Air Policing, a mission, as usual, supervised by the Combined Air Operations Centre Uedem, Germany, in close cooperation with the Polish Air Force.
The Dutch have deployed their F-35s to Malbork with special tent hangars. These hangars have been erected jointly by 34 Dutch engineers supported by Polish personnel. Social accommodation of the deployment has been placed within a set of standard containerized quarters.
“It is a great experience to deploy our advance fifth-generation jets here to Malbork,” said Lieutenant Colonel Guido Schols, Commander of the Netherlands F-35 detachment. “By sending eight F-35s, the Netherlands underline their commitment to collective security in the region and contributed to showing NATO presence in the air. Four of our jets are earmarked for the Air Policing mission and the other four will be available for training with our Allies. They can also be used immediately if the situation so requires,” he added.
As we have reported previously, the Malbork AB is currently a home for all of the Polish MiG-29 Fulcrums.