The U.S. 31st Fighter Wing from Aviano Air Base, Italy, recently deployed two F-16s to Croatia’s 91st Air Base at Pleso, March 16. The U.S. F-16s are directly supporting NATO’s collective defense in Southeast Europe through training on the U.S.’s Agile Combat Employment (ACE) concepts, alongside Croatian allies. The main base of the Croatian Air Force is located at Zagreb Franjo Tu?man Airport. It is the largest and busiest airport in Croatia. In 2019, it handled 3.45 million passengers and some 13,000 tons of cargo.
The U.S. Air Force routinely executes their ACE capabilities with NATO Allies to ensure combined Allied forces are ready to respond to any threat against the Alliance. This training builds NATO’s defensive capabilities, enhances Allied interoperability, and develops opportunities for strategic access. U.S. Air Force activities in Croatia support Allied and partner readiness throughout NATO’s airspace in Southeast Europe, extending into the Mediterranean Sea.
“Our enduring alliances and partnerships throughout the European and African theaters have enabled our multi-capable Airmen to execute our mission as a dynamic coalition force,” said General Jeff Harrigian, Commander of Allied Air Command. “Directing our strategic capabilities from any number of forward locations builds a resilient force, ready to pivot and counter aggression anywhere at a moment’s notice.”
The 31st Fighter Wing (31 FW) is a United States Air Force unit assigned to the United States Air Forces in Europe major command and the Third Air Force. It is stationed at Aviano Air Base, Italy, a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) base run by the Italian Air Force. The 31st Fighter Wing is the only United States fighter wing south of the Alps. This strategic location makes the wing important for operations in NATO’s southern region. The 31st FW maintains two F-16 fighter squadrons, the 555th Fighter Squadron and the 510th Fighter Squadron, allowing the wing to conduct offense and defensive combat air operations.