Putin taunts Britain again: Two Russian warships are escorted through English Channel by Royal Navy amid escalating global tension
US plans to ramp-up its military presence in Eastern Europe against Vladimir Putin's 'sabre rattling' were welcomed by the Government today.Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said Britain would support any decision by US president Barack Obama to deploy new missiles in Europe – and refused to rule out placing them in the UK.Mr Fallon's remarks came as Nato looked set to agree plans this week for large-scale deployment of military kit in Eastern Europe – including the largest number of American tanks on the continent since the Cold War.+3Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said Britain would support any decision by US president Barack Obama to deploy new missiles in Europe – and refused to rule out placing them in the UKThe move is set to be agreed at a meeting of defence ministers in Brussels on Wednesday – marking a 'turning point' in the alliance's policy towards Russia following the country's invasion of eastern Ukraine and annexation of the Crimea.A senior Nato official told the Sunday Times: 'This will mark a real change of our collective defence: the US is coming back to Europe to play its role. The number of US tanks in Europe will reach a level not seen since the Cold War.'Tanks, armoured vehicles, drones, weapons and a number of rotating troops will be deployed across countries including Poland and the three Baltic states.The move would enable a rapid deployment of Nato forces in case of emergency.Six Nato command and control centres are to be established from Estonia in the north to Bulgaria in the south, to facilitate the rapid deployment of forces.Nato ministers are also expected to agree on ways to help Estonia, Lithuania and LatviaFallon discusses Putin's 'sabre rattling' with Andrew Marr+3Mr Fallon's remarks came as Nato looked set to agree plans this week for large-scale deployment of military kit in Eastern Europe – including the largest number of American tanks on the continent since the Cold WarThe meeting follows two weeks of large-scale Nato military drills on sea and land in the Baltic and in Poland, including the first deployment of the alliance's new spearhead force for rapid reaction.Douglas Lute, the American ambassador to Nato, said ministers would agree on measures that would 'fundamentally change our force posture'.Speaking this morning on BBC's Andrew Marr show, Mr Fallon said Mr Putin was 'clearly building up his conventional forces' and needed to be faced down.He said: 'It is sabre rattling and that is why we have to continue to strengthen Nato – offer Nato more reassurance with these larger scale exercises.President Obama is set to sanction biggest deployment of US tanks in Europe since the Cold War'We are doing our bit, but it's very important we keep sending Putin this message – that we are determined to our collective defence of Nato.'Asked if he supported the US move to weapons back to Europe, Mr Fallon said: 'That's a decision for the Americans, [but] if that's their decision, yes.'He said Britain had not been asked to deploy weapons in the UK. He said: 'That's not been raised with me by the US defence secretary.'Mr Fallon also insisted Britain would 'fulfil our commitments' to Nato amid questions over whether the Government will abandon the organisation's 2 per cent military spending target.The Defence Secretary refused to commit explicitly to maintaining the outlay as a proportion of GDP.But he urged people to look at the Government's record, and dismissed criticism that the UK was withdrawing from the international stage.Speaking on the BBC, Mr Fallon said figures due out this week would confirm the 2 per cent threshold is being met this year.Pushed on whether spending would remain at that level, he replied: 'I want us to fulfil our commitments.'Our manifesto commitment was to spend more on equipment and I have described to you that we are modernising everything for the armed forces.'It was also to replace our nuclear deterrent and it was also a commitment not to cut further the size of the regular army.'+3Speaking this morning on BBC's Andrew Marr show, Mr Fallon said Russia's president Vladimir Putin was 'clearly building up his conventional forces' and needed to be faced downChallenged that he and other ministers were 'weaving and dodging' on the issue, Mr Fallon said: 'The reason is very simple - we can't set the budget on this programme.'We will set the budget for the three years of the parliament in September and then you will have your answer. But we already have three very strong specific commitments in the manifesto.'Look at the record. We are doing 2 per cent at the moment.'Mr Fallon's comments come after US president Barack Obama raised concerns that UK defence spending was set to fall below the Nato target.The Prime Minister was tackled by Mr Obama on the topic during the G7 summit in Germany earlier this month.
Donald Trump has sent supersonic stealth fighters to Britain in his latest move to ward off Russian aggression.
Six F-35A Lightning IIs have been filmed landing at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk ahead of Nato training drills across Europe over the coming weeks.
And the US Air Force tweeted: ‘Next step for #F35 in #USAF! Great flying in UK!’
It is believed the jets have been sent to the UK to reassure eastern European nations of the US’s commitment to Nato amid high tensions with Russia and president Vladimir Putin.
An F-35A Lightning II is pictured touching down at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk to boost Nato ahead of training drills
The fighters have been described as the 'most advanced in the world' and cost upwards of £75million per unit (file picture)
F-35As, or the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, cost upwards of £75million per unit and can reach top speeds of 1,200mph.
There are thought to be around 231 models in the world and they first entered into production in 2006.
And two squadrons of the jets are set to be based permanently in the UK from 2021 from Lakenheath.
Last year the RAF bought eight F-35B stealth fighters, which differ from the A model because they take off from aircraft carriers. They are set to enter service by 2020 once construction is complete on two new carriers.
The planes are capable of carrying nuclear weapons and also carry conventional missiles including the laser-guided Paveway explosive.
There are three categories of F-35s - As, which are capable of conventional take-off and landing; Bs, which are short take-off and vertical landing craft; and Cs, which have catapult-assisted take-off.
An MOD spokesperson said: 'We welcome the US deployment of eight aircraft, which underlines that we stand side-by-side with our closest ally.
'The US decision to use RAF Lakenheath as the base for the F-35A Lighting II's first overseas training is a clear demonstration of the closeness of this partnership, as well as the US commitment to NATO and Europe.
'Training alongside each other will be beneficial for both the Royal Air Force and US Air Force.'
F-35s can reach speeds of 1,200mph and are capable of carrying nuclear weapons (file picture)
It is believed the jets have been sent to the UK to reassure eastern Europe in the face of any Russian aggression
The US Air Force has described the fighter as having ‘unmatched lethality, survivability and interoperability’
It comes as the relationship between the US and Russia has been further strained by recent events in Syria.
The White House has accused Moscow of trying to cover up Assad's use of chemical weapons after the attack on a town killed 87 people last week.
Trump responded to the gas attack by firing 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian air base on Friday. Washington warned Moscow, and Russian troops at the base were not hit.
Moscow has stood by Assad, saying the poison gas belonged to rebels, an explanation Washington dismisses as beyond credible.
Putin said that either gas belonging to the rebels was released when it was hit by a Syrian strike on a rebel arms dump, or the rebels faked the incident to discredit Assad.
The United States and its European allies also imposed financial sanctions on Russia in 2014 after Putin seized territory from neighbouring Ukraine.
Projected life service:2070
Show of U.S. strength just miles from Putin’s borders: Thousands of troops conduct exercises by air, land and sea over Alaska amid mounting tensions with Russia