The planned modernization of the air bases, located predominantly in Eastern Europe close to Russian borders, as well as in Iceland and Norway, is a part of the $4.6 billion European Deterrence Initiative (EDI) aimed at “reassuring” NATO’s European allies.
The funds will be distributed among a total of nine bases in Latvia, Estonia, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Luxembourg, Iceland and Norway for them to be able to house top-of-the line US warplanes, Air Force Times reports.
The US reportedly plans to deploy F-22 Raptor and F-35 fifth-generation stealth fighter jets to some of the bases in the Baltics and Northern Europe to track and deter Russian submarines, the paper reported, while a spokesperson for U.S European Command, Maj. Juan Martinez, refused to give any specifics on the nature or location of the operations.
The Naval Air Station Keflavik in Iceland is set to undergo a $14 million modernization, which will see it adding new hangars to host P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol planes. The aircraft, dubbed “submarine killer,” is equipped with torpedoes, depth charges, Harpoon anti-ship missiles and other weaponry.
Part of the investment will be spent on the construction of new runways and fuel storage facilities at the air bases. Some $55 million will be poured into the Hungarian Kecskemet Air Base in order “to increase fuel storage capacity, construct a parallel taxiway and upgrade the airfield,” according to Martinez. He noted that large-scale infrastructure upgrades across Europe does not mean that the US troops would be stationed there permanently, but rather stick to rotations as they have in the past.
The anti-Russian agenda championed by the US-led NATO has been getting increasingly costly for the American taxpayer. In 2018, the EDI budget will jump $1.2 billion in addition to 2017’s $3.4 billion.
A part of this is $500 million in “defense lethal assistance” promised by Washington to Ukraine and hailed by its president, Petro Poroshenko, who has long been seeking US arms to suppress the popular unrest in the self-proclaimed Republics of Lugansk and Donetsk in the country’s east, which, according to the official Ukrainian and American narrative, are backed by Russia. The disbursement of funds is conditional to reforms of the Ukrainian military, that will have to be attested by the US.
By aggressively bolstering its military presence at Russia’s doorstep, NATO is endangering regional stability as well as global security, Moscow has been maintaining.
The ongoing beef-up of NATO in Eastern Europe and the Baltics, and the deployment of new parts of the US missile defense, “clearly indicate blatant unwillingness of our Western partners to stop pushing an anti-Russian agenda,” Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said.