The US Air Force (USAF) is deploying 12 F-22 Raptor fighter jets to the 32nd Tactical Air Base, Łask, Poland. Six stealth aircraft landed on Tuesday at Lakenheath Air Force Base (UK) from Alaska.
According to the USAF, the F-22s will reinforce the NATO Air Shielding. The aircraft are also considered to spend some time in Souda Bay, Greece, which may occur before arriving in Poland.
The aircraft belong to the 90th Fighter Squadron, 3rd Wing, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (Alaska) and will support Air Protection as the 90th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron.
“The NATO Air Shielding mission integrates Allied Air and Surface Based Air and Missile Defence units into the NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence system under NATO Command and Control. It will provide a near seamless shield from the Baltic to Black Seas, ensuring NATO Allies are better able to safeguard and protect Alliance territory, populations and forces from air and missile threat,” said a statement from US Air Forces Europe and Africa.
The F-22 Raptor is considered the most capable 5th generation fighter in service in the world. Although designed for air defense, the Lockheed Martin aircraft also has attack capability, thanks to the use of precision-guided munitions.
“The Raptor is a critical component of the global strike Task Force, and designed to project air dominance, rapidly and at great distances to defeat threats attempting to deny access to our nation’s Army, Navy and Marine Corps. It cannot be matched by any known or projected fighter aircraft, making it a highly strategic platform to support NATO Air Shielding,” added USAFE-AFAFRICA.
After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, NATO members have reinforced the presence of advanced combat aircraft in countries bordering conflict areas. Eurofighter Typhoon and F-35A fighter jets are among the jets present in the region.