US Air Force sends tank busters back to Germany
Tom Barfield · 13 Feb 2015, 14:31
Published: 13 Feb 2015 14:31 GMT+01:00
- Merkel greets 'glimmer of hope' for Ukraine (12 Feb 15)
- Merkel, Hollande make last-ditch ceasefire push (11 Feb 15)
- Merkel warns US of threat to peace in Europe (10 Feb 15)
“While in Germany these aircraft will forward-deploy to locations in eastern European Nato nations,” US Navy Captain Greg Hicks, US European Command spokesman, said in a statement on Tuesday.
The 12 A-10 “Warthog” ground-attack planes, along with 300 pilots and ground crew and their equipment, will be sent to Spangdahlem Air Base in Rhineland-Palatinate.
It is not yet known where they will be sent after Germany.
Designed to attack large formations of Soviet tanks during the Cold War, the heavily-armoured planes are armed with a 30mm rotary cannon and can carry a variety of bombs and missiles.
News that the A-10s will return to Europe is significant, as the last of the aircraft had returned to the US in 2013 as part of a general reduction of American forces in Europe since the end of the Cold War.
American troops in Europe have recently been training in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland – countries which see the Ukraine crisis as a possible forerunner of threats to their own borders.
Nato troops have been training all over eastern Europe since April 2014 as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, launched to make sure that the alliance's forces are prepared for any escalation in the fighting.