US Deploys F-22 Raptors Within ‘Striking Distance’ From Russia; 1st Forward Deployment Since Ukraine War
The latest development marks the F-22’s first deployment to Europe since the start of the Russian invasion. This fifth-generation fighter jet supports NATO’s ‘air shielding’ mission.
According to reports, six Raptors, out of a total of 12, have already arrived at the Ask air force base in central Poland. The mission will be focused on protecting the airspace along NATO’s Eastern borders and thwarting any potential Russian aggression.
The 158th Fighter Wing of the Vermont Air National Guard, which has been employing its F-35 Lightning II fleet to carry out NATO’s air policing mission, will be replaced by the F-22s of the 90th Fighter Squadron, based in Alaska.
In terms of its integration with NATO’s air shielding mission, the Air Force anticipates a smooth transition from the F-35 force of the 158th Fighter Wing to the F-22s of the 90th Fighter Squadron.
F-35, F-22 To Strengthen NATO’s Defenses
The F-22 Raptors deployment is the latest in a series of the US and its allies’ declarations to create “Air Shielding” plans on the Eastern front to counter Russian threats.
In addition to sending two more squadrons of US F-35s to the Royal Air Force’s Lakenheath base in the United Kingdom, President Biden also recently announced the establishment of a new Army headquarters in Poland.
The Pentagon stated that the fifth-generation fighters “will add to the air support for NATO forces throughout Europe” following Biden’s announcement at the NATO Summit in Madrid.
When it comes to strengthening deterrence against Russian aggression, the increasing number of F-35s in the US fleet and across Europe is an essential stepping stone for the military alliance.
As a result, more networked F-35s will be deployed across Europe, bolstering the Eastern Flank. Furthermore, the F-22 fighter jet’s stellar support will boost NATO’s overall airpower.
Russian aircraft have a long record of flying over eastern and northern Europe regions, frequently causing NATO fighter jets to scramble to intercept and accompany the aircraft. The military alliance has long conducted “air policing” operations along the eastern front to patrol the volatile region.
NATO will strengthen its air defense in Eastern Europe. A NATO official recently explained: “NATO air shielding is an increased air and missile defense posture along the alliance’s eastern flank, implemented in the wake of Russia’s war on Ukraine.”
The alliance is now looking to bring together a broad array of allied air and missile defense options under the general command of NATO officials.
The US and its allies try to brace their military power against Russia. Even though the alliance calls these moves purely defensive, they are forging a new defense chain aimed at Moscow.