This month the US Air Force is making a strong effort to bolster Europe's confidence and security with a series of deployments that include the fifth generation Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor.On 11 April,12 F-22s were deployed to RAF Lakenheath,England.It is the largest ever deployment to Europe of the multi-role fighter aircraft,and only the second ever deployment of F-22s to the US European Command Area of Responsibility.
On 25 April,two of the Lakenheath F-22s were forward-deployed to Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base,Romania,along with about 20 supporting Airmen from 95th Fighter Squadron out of Tyndall Air Force Base,Florida.The Raptors will remain at MK for a brief period of time before returning to Lakenheath,US Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa explained.
Today,we deployed these aircraft,along with a KC-135 Stratotanker,here to showcase our flexible response and our range of capabilities,said Lieutenant General Timothy Ray,3rd Air Force commander.These aircraft have the ability to project air dominance quickly,at great distances,to defeat any possible threat.*
The F-22 deployments also prove that European bases and other NATO installations can host fifth generation fighters while also affording the chance for familiarisation flight training within the European theatre,according to the Air Force.*
It is important we test our infrastructure,aircraft capabilities,and the talented Airmen and allies who will host these aircraft in Europe,said General Frank Gorenc,USAFE-AFA commander.This deployment advances our airpower evolution and demonstrates our resolve and commitment to European safety and security,GEN Gorenc added.*
Earlier in the month,12 USAF Boeing F-15C Eagles arrived in Europe as part of the next Theater Security Package in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve.While in theatre the F-15s and some 350 Air National Guard personnel will participate in a variety of missions,including supporting the NATO Air Surveillance mission in Iceland at Keflavik International Airport;deploying to Leeuwarden Air Base,Netherlands;and forward deploying to other locations in European NATO and other partner nations.The aircraft will remain in Europe through September.*
The deployment to Iceland is especially critical as Iceland,apart from its small Coast Gurad,has no armed forces,and Russia has made incursions into Icelandic airspace.Russia has been stepping up its North Atlantic activity in general of late.For example,in 2014,Russia staged an operational-strategic exercise of more than 100,000 troops;in 2015,an unannounced exercise with 45,000 troops,41 warships and 15 submarines displayed full combat readiness in the area.
In a further response to Russia's threatening stance,the Pentagon plans to restore Cold War hangars and infrastructure at Keflavik for basing US Navy Boeing P-8A maritime surveillance aircraft.*
Beyond Iceland,6 F-15s will be deployed to NATO partner Finland in May.*
These TSP rotations are an excellent investment given the exceptional benefit to training,operational readiness,and our alliances and partnerships,EUCOM noted,enhacing interoperability among the services and partner military training while also bolstering our capability that enables us to continue our reassurance measures.*
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