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F-22 Raptors Deploy to Europe

F-22 Raptors have deployed to Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany to train with United States and allied air forces through mid-September, according to DOD and Air Force press releases.

Four Raptors and approximately 60 airmen from Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida’s, 95th Fighter Squadron, and a C-17 Globemaster III from the 60th Airlift Wing out of Travis Air Force Base, California, arrived over the weekend.

“It’s important we test our infrastructure, aircraft capabilities, and the talented airmen and allies who will host 5th generation aircraft in Europe,” said Gorenc. “This deployment advances our airpower evolution and demonstrates our resolve and commitment to European safety and security.”

“This inaugural Raptor training deployment is the perfect opportunity for these advanced aircraft to train alongside other U.S. Air Force aircraft, joint partners, and NATO allies,” said U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa Commander Gen. Frank Gorenc.

F-22 Takes off

A 95th Fighter Squadron F-22 Raptor accelerates as it takes off of the Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, flightline. Four 95th FS Raptors flew to Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, to train with allied air forces and U.S. services through mid-September. U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sergio A. Gamboa

Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III announced the planned deployment during their State of the Air Force address and press conference Aug. 25. The deployment is funded under the European Reassurance Initiative, along with earlier and ongoing deployments of other aircraft, including F-15s, F-16s and A-10s as well as the deployment of Army and Navy units that have been exercising with partners and allies. The European Reassurance Initiative, and the U.S. Air Force Theater Security Packages that are part of it, were developed and deployed to reinforce and reassure NATO allies of American commitment to the region and to deter Russian aggression against its neighbors.

“So this is a natural evolution in bringing our best air-to-air capability in to train with partners who have been long and trusted ones,” Welsh said.

“Now, rotational forces and training exercises help us maintain our strong and balanced approach, and we will certainly be continuing these in the future. For the Air Force, an F-22 deployment is certainly on the strong side of the coin, and so today, we are announcing that we will very soon deploy F-22s to Europe to support combatant commander requirements, and as part of the European Reassurance Initiative,” James said during the press conference.

F-22 trio Spang

Three F-22 Raptor fighter aircraft fly over Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, Aug. 28, 2015 as part of the inaugural F-22 training deployment to Europe. Four F-22s from the 95th Fighter Squadron at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., along with a C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft and more than 50 support Airmen were part of the deployment. This effort is part of the European Reassurance Initiative and will serve to assure allies of the Air Force’s commitment to European security and stability. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Warren

“Airmen who are a part of this inaugural F-22 training deployment will train with our joint partners and our NATO allies across Europe as part of our continued effort to assure our allies and demonstrate our commitments to security and stability of Europe,” James said.

The F-22 made its combat debut over Syria last year, carrying out airstrikes on ISIL forces, and Raptors have continued an ongoing deployment in that area of operations. They have also deployed to the Pacific and have participated regularly in Red Flag exercises.

Two Raptors land Spang

Two F-22 Raptor fighter aircraft prepare to land at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, Aug. 28, 2015, as part of the inaugural F-22 training deployment to Europe. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Warren

“I would tell you the F-22 deploying to Europe is just a continuation of deploying it everywhere we can to train with our partners,” said Welsh during the press conference. “We’re going to be doing a training deployment, we’ll operate with a number of different air forces.”

“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,” Welsh said.

F-22 landing

An F-22 Raptor fighter aircraft lands at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, Aug. 28, 2015, as part of the inaugural F-22 training deployment to Europe. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Warren

“So this is a natural evolution in bringing our best air-to-air capability in to train with partners who have been long and trusted ones,” Welsh said.

The first deployment of Raptors to Europe will build and demonstrate interoperability between the F-22 and disparate types of aircraft used by partner and allied air forces. The 5th generation Raptors will operate and train alongside 4th generation aircraft such as the F-15 and F-16 as well as a range of aircraft from NATO allies and partners, including the “generation 4.5” Eurofighter Typhoon, which serves the European air forces of the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Germany, and Austria.

F-22 touchdown

An F-22 Raptor fighter aircraft lands at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, Aug. 28, 2015, as part of the inaugural F-22 training deployment to Europe. Four F-22s from the 95th Fighter Squadron at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, along with a C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft and more than 50 support airmen were part of the deployment. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Warren

“We have allies in Europe who have advanced capabilities – the Eurofighter as just an example. We have aircraft with very advanced capabilities, and we need, and they would like for us, to be able to interoperate in multiple-type scenarios. And so being able to train side-by-side with them and do that kind of training is really, really important to us, and that’s what this is for,” Welsh said.

Raptors taxi

Four F-22 Raptor fighter aircraft taxi after landing at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, Aug. 28, 2015, as part of the inaugural F-22 training deployment to Europe. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Warren

“It’s important we test our infrastructure, aircraft capabilities, and the talented airmen and allies who will host 5th generation aircraft in Europe,” said Gorenc. “This deployment advances our airpower evolution and demonstrates our resolve and commitment to European safety and security.”