The USAF plans to send its F-35A stealth fighters from the UK to Estonia, which shares a 200-mile border with Russia, for training. This is a program that was evolved after the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014. The fighters will also be deployed to Romania which is a member of NATO. Both these countries are aware of the Russian aggression after Moscow had annexed Crimea and the deployment of the F-35As to Europe is an integral part of a mechanism that was set up following the annexation.

The need for the exercise

CNN reports that the USAF had sent its jet fighters to Europe as part of the European Reassurance Initiative and even before the F-35A stealth fighters there were other American aircraft variants in use by NATO allies.

Apart from aircraft, US ground forces are also deployed in Europe as part of the program.

A team was sent to Poland, another NATO ally, in January and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov felt that action by the U.S. was a threat to Russia’s interests and security. Incidentally, the F-35As arrived in the UK even as Russian bombers were sighted along the Alaskan coast and these were intercepted in the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone. This zone is a designated region of international airspace surrounding the US and Canada and is meant to be a buffer to allow for the identification of aircraft heading towards North America.

What are the after effects?

Such flights do not pose any military threats as such, but the sudden increase in the frequency of such occurrences is a reason for worry for US defense officials.

Moscow has clarified that it regularly conducts its missions above the water bodies in the region like the neutral waters of the Arctic, the Atlantic, the Black Sea and the Pacific Ocean.

It has also added that missions of this nature follow the rule book and are carried out in strict compliance with international regulations and on national borders.

The USAF on its part has clarified that the deployment of F-35A stealth fighters was not a reaction to any recent specific incident but was intended to train people associated with the stealth fighter and the training should be as teams. Moreover, with the aircraft readily available in European countries, the U.S. gets an opportunity to display the product firsthand to NATO allies and bag orders.

The growing uneasiness among world leaders is evident from the outward display of its military prowess, and everyone wants to put up a bold face. They know that they are sitting on top of a volcano that can erupt any moment and no one intends to ignite the fuse. It is not confined to any particular region but the threat very much exists, and it is the responsibility of the leaders to ensure that situations do not go out of control.