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8 Mar, 2019 12:04

US spy drone base ‘fully operational’ in Poland, but NATO bemoans ‘Russian’ military build-up

US spy drone base ‘fully operational’ in Poland, but NATO bemoans ‘Russian’ military build-up

The US has upped its ability to spy over vast swathes of eastern Europe after a squadron of MQ-9 Reaper drones commenced “full” operations from an air base in Poland. This, as NATO cries foul over the so-called ‘Russian threat’.

Based out of Miroslawiec Air Base, the US Air Force (USAF) silently began using the facility for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions last May.

However, it was not until March 4 that the 52nd Fighter Wing Expeditionary Operations Group (EOG), which operate drones, reached its “full operational capability” at the base, according to a USAF statement.

Facilities at the base, which include a secure processing center, communications infrastructure, and a large aircraft maintenance hangar, will allow the unit and contractors to control all aspects of the Reaper’s missions, from take-off to recovery of the aircraft. The USAF statement didn’t divulge the number of Reaper drones that would be stationed at the base.

Reports last year indicate that the US conducted similar flights from Larisa Air Force Base in Greece. However, the stationing of Reapers in Greece was explained by Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon as a temporary measure while repairs were being made at one of the US’ secretive African drone sites. Drone flights from Larisa may have focused on operations in the south, but Reaper missions from Poland focus firmly on supporting NATO’s ambitions in the east.

Speaking on Tuesday, the top US commander in Europe, Curtis Scaparrotti, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he was not satisfied with the current “deterrent posture” NATO has against Russia. “I need more ISR,” Scaparrotti said, noting that additional warships, troop deployments, and investment in cyber and military infrastructure are urgently needed in the European theater.

Also on rt.com ‘Obvious threat’: Russian officials warn Poland not to proceed with permanent US military base

Scaparrotti’s cries of the growing “threat of Russia” comes amid Polish hopes to open a permanent home for US troops as NATO bases continue to stretch from the Baltic to the Black Sea. Dubbed Fort Trump, Russia has vowed to resist the Polish installation, calling it a threat to its security.

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