Two more US F-35 squadrons heading to UK as Biden boosts Europe presence

Two more US F-35 squadrons are being sent to the UK as NATO continues to bolster its forces in Europe following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

President Joe Biden announced a number of US reinforcements to Europe at the beginning of the NATO summit in Madrid, Spain.

He said the US will look to increase its number of navy destroyers stationed at Spain's Rota naval base from four to six.

US Marine Corps F-35Bs at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk, before joining UK Carrier Strike Group, April 2021 (Picture: US Air Force).
US Marine Corps F-35Bs at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk, before joining the UK Carrier Strike Group, in April 2021 (Picture: US Air Force).

Mr Biden announced that a permanent headquarters for the US Fifth Army Corps would be set up in Poland.

He continued: "We're going to maintain additional rotational brigade, which is 3,000 fighters and another 2,000 personnel, combat team here in Europe, headquartered in Romania.

"And we're going to enhance our rotational deployments in the Baltic states."

Mr Biden also announced extra air defence and "other capabilities" will be sent to Germany and Italy.

Addressing the summit, the American president said: "The moment when Putin has shattered peace in Europe, and attacked the very, very tenets of the rules-based order, the United States and our allies, we're going to step up.

"We're stepping up, proving that NATO is more needed now than it ever has been. And it's as important as ever has been."

Watch: Russia is the most direct and pressing threat to Europe, says defence secretary.

The US president's announcement comes as the UK is committing extra forces to the alliance's eastern flank.

The UK already has a significant military presence in Estonia and Prime Minister Boris Johnson is using the summit to expand its headquarters in the Baltic nation.

Officials said this will ensure the UK can provide rapid reinforcements if needed, and deploy artillery, air defence and helicopters.

Mr Johnson said Vladimir Putin's hope that NATO would be diminished has been proven "completely wrong" by the joining of Sweden and Finland.

The nations are to become part of the defence alliance after Turkey withdrew its objections.

Mr Johnson said Russian President Mr Putin is getting "more NATO", not less, as a result of his actions in Ukraine.

The Prime Minister is also calling on alliance leaders to increase their defence budgets, but he is under pressure to do more on the UK’s military spending.

The alliance plans to have 300,000 troops at high readiness – up from the current 40,000 – and the UK will commit capabilities in land, air and sea to the "new force model".

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