Watch Out Russia – F-22 Raptors Patrolling Skies Over Eastern Europe – The United States Air Force remains the sole operator of the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor, and the fifth-generation air superiority fighters have been serving in a deterrent role in Eastern Europe since earlier this month.
The Air Force announced this month that a number of Raptors were deployed to aid NATO Allied Air Command’s Air Shielding mission along the Eastern Flank.
The F-22 aircraft were part of an “Agile Combat Employment” deployment to Ämari Air Base, Estonia, on May 8, to deter aggression in the Baltic Sea region.
F-22 Raptor: How to Deter Putin?
Joint Base Langley-Eustis’ 94th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron deployed a dozen F-22 Raptors to Poland’s Powidz Air Base in support of the critical mission, which augments the alliance’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense and Counter-Integrated Air Defense System capabilities to safeguard the nearly 1,500-mile-long border along NATO’s Eastern Flank, the Air force added.
The Raptors are now operating in the skies over the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania – which are situated on a critical air, land, and sea corridor near Russia. The Agile Combat Employment, a proactive and reactive operational scheme of maneuver executed within threat timelines to increase survivability while generating combat power, provides a coordinated approach between allies to maintain and sustain international freedom of maneuver throughout the region.
In addition to the deployment of the fifth-generation fighters, a Spanish NASAMS air defense system is also currently deployed to Latvia to provide ground-based air defense capabilities in close coordination with the Latvian Control and Reporting Center. Royal Air Force (RAF) Typhoons have been sent to Estonia to further conduct NATO’s peacetime Air Policing mission.
Protecting the Baltics
In February, United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin reemphasized the U.S. commitment to the defense of the Baltic republics in the wake of increased Russian aggression.
The three nations, which were former Soviet republics, are NATO members.
“I want to make one thing very clear to the Estonian people today. [The] United States remains steadfastly committed to the freedom and sovereignty of our Baltic allies,” Austin said.
“And we stand united with you to deter and defend against any threat to our shared security.”
Russia has maintained a constant threat through a full spectrum of “gray zone operations” that have included economic coercion, disinformation and propaganda, cyber disruption, and covert military incursions.
It is expected that any conflict in the region would take place across multiple domains, including air, sea, land, space, and cyber.
The deployment of the F-22 will help ensure that the air, land, and even sea are addressed.
“The ability of the U.S. to rapidly augment other deployed units with fifth-generation fighters expands the alliance’s ability to integrate across all domains,” the U.S. Air Force explained.
“An effective IAMD structure incorporates air, land, sea, space, and cyber domains to provide full-spectrum awareness of airspace faced with complex adversary threats. As a highly maneuverable stealth aircraft, the F-22 fifth-generation fighter is designed to rapidly project dominance, penetrate evolving threats, and achieve air superiority.”
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A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.