U.S. Air Force to Dispatch F-22s to Europe

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James is making good on her threat to send the F-22 Raptor fighter jet to Europe for the first time in response to Russian aggression in the region.

Earlier this summer at the Paris Air Show, James said the U.S. may deploy a squadron of the fifth-generation stealth fighter jets made by Lockheed Martin Corp. to the continent in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea from the Ukraine and support for separatists in the country.

During a press conference Monday at the Pentagon, the secretary announced that Raptors would, in fact, be heading to the region “very soon,” though as my colleague Richard Sisk reported at Military.com, she didn’t say how many will be going and where they will be based.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh said the deployment would allow the F-22 pilots to interact and train jointly with the Eurofighter Typhoons, which have been flying air patrols over the Baltic states.

“The F-22 deploying to Europe is just a continuation of deploying it everywhere we can to train with our partners,” he said. “We’re going to be doing a training deployment, we’ll operate with a number of different air forces.”

Welsh added, “We’ll get the F-22 into facilities that we would potentially use in a conflict in Europe, things like the bases where we do aviation attachments, to places where we do air policing missions.  They’ll train with some of our European partners.  They’re there primarily for an exercise, training with our European partners.”

The F-22s will join a growing number of U.S. aircraft that have been sent the region as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, including the A-10 Warthog attack aircraft and F-15 Strike Eagles.

The Raptors flew their first combat mission last year as part of the opening wave of American-led airstrikes in Syria against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. The stealthy, highly maneuverable twin-engine fighter was likely used to penetrate and attack the country’s sophisticated Russian-made air defenses, among other targets.

In its air-to-ground configuration, the fighter can carry pairs of GPS-guided 1,000-pound GBU-32 Joint Direct Attack Munitions, as well as active guided AIM-120s Amraam and AIM-9s Sidewinder missiles. It was slated to be enhanced with upgraded radar and as many as eight small diameter bombs.

The aircraft’s presence in Europe for the first time, however, is designed to send a message to Moscow with its air-to-air configuration, which includes six AIM-120 AMRAAMs and two AIM-9 Sidewinders.

From the equipment guide: A combination of sensor capability, integrated avionics, situational awareness, and weapons provides first-kill opportunity against threats. The F-22 Raptor possesses a sophisticated sensor suite allowing the pilot to track, identify, shoot and kill air-to-air threats before being detected.

About the Author

Brendan McGarry
Brendan McGarry is the managing editor of Military.com. He can be reached at brendan.mcgarry@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.
  • Mark

    Like the F-35.

  • amauyong

    Well….here we go..i raise against your stakes…so now how much the russkies gonna raise for this round…and it continues….zzz

    • Michael

      US WANTS WW3-BRING IT ON

  • Superraptor

    We need 300 more new upgraded F 22s
    The production line can be restarted
    And GOP cancel sequestration
    In fact to cope with all the new threats the defense budget needs to be increased by 30 per cent. Cut my medicare instead.
    Dont punish the military for your budget fantasies

  • d. kellogg

    The real question here then isn’t going to be centered around the F-22 itself, but rather, just how far have the ~rumors~ of those so-called “memory chip jammers” gone from sheer speculation to field-ready production, and how vulnerable the AMRAAMs will be to it: there are known foreign chip manufacturers whose components are part of AMRAAM’s circuitry, and despite Raytheon’s best abilities, these components’ vulnerabilities are known and have shown to be interfered with by certain microwave RF wavelengths.
    We can only hope that shielded ECCM (electronics counter-counter measures) have found their way into enough systems so that any active EW systems will not compromise our missiles even if the Reds cannot see the planes that fire them.

  • Bob

    Has anyone recognized the white rhinoceros in the room? The conversation was started by the announcement that F-22 Raptors were being deployed to Europe. Then, we side-railed into discussions about the aircraft’s oxygen system and what caused the fatal crash. The problem with blogs like this one is that everyone begins to insert their own opinions about different issues and never target the primary topic. In this case, confronting Russian aggression and the entry into another Cold War. Let’s try to stay on topic with subsequent discussions.

  • Lance

    Just need F-15s and F-22s for a air defense shield in Europe. But don’t underestimate The Russian stealth is cool but cant make up for well piloted and superior numbers we would face. Beside Putin knows Obama is a wimp and knows we never goto war with them over a loser of a county: Ukraine.

  • Michael

    Why is WARMONGER ameriKa..tring to ENCIRCLE RUSSIA AND CHINA? Do they want the D istrict of C riminals VAPORIZED? ret us army

  • BlackOwl18E

    I’ve lost interest in defending Europe from Russia. The Europeans have the money to make good military forces, but they don’t. They spend their money on education, infrastructure, and competing with us on the economic level. When we do get into a fight they wine and complain about how we aren’t fighting right or God forbid we make a mistake in combat.

    Our true allies in Europe are starting to lose interest in defense as well and their future defense budgets show signs of major cuts, meaning they won’t be good allies for very long (I’m talking specifically about the United Kingdom’s defense budget, though I mean no offense to any British reading this).

    Along that line of thought, I think if Europe continues to rely on us for their defense, they should start paying us for it. We’ve done so much for them, but they rarely do anything for us. There is no benefit to helping people that are not willing to help themselves.

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