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  • Air Force Sec Announces F-22 Raptors Will Deploy To Europe To Reassure Allies

    F-22 Raptors will soon arrive on the scene in Europe as part of a NATO effort to deter Russian aggression, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James confirmed Monday.

    “We are announcing that we will very soon deploy F-22s to Europe…as part of the European Reassurance Initiative,” James said.

    Raptors have never before deployed to Europe, sticking mostly to the Asia-Pacific region.

    When and exactly how many F-22 stealth fighters will be deployed is not clear, as James said the details were being kept under wraps for security reasons, but the timing is interesting to note. Just last week, Defense Secretary Ash Carter stated that Russia constitutes an existential threat to the United States. James mentioned the deployment as far back as June, however, at Le Bourget airshow in Paris.

    Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Walsh said that the F-22s will participate in Operation Atlantic Resolve, an ongoing effort to reassure NATO allies following the War in Donbass.

    Russian involvement in Ukraine has merited a response in the form of A-10s, F-15s and F-16s, and less than a week ago, the Air Force announced that it plans to ship over 12 more A-10s to the region for a training exercise.

    Both the Army and Marines have also sent over tanks. The U.S. participated with other nations Monday in holding “the largest U.S.-led airborne exercise in Europe since the end of the Cold War,” called Exercise Swift Response 15. A total of 4,500 troops from 11 NATO member countries are taking part.

    Designed by Boeing and Lockheed Martin and introduced in 2005, the F-22 is mostly designed for air-to-air combat, but is also capable of engaging in electronic warfare and ground attack. Each Raptor costs approximately $143 million and apart from air-to-air missiles, the aircraft can drop Precision Guided Munitions, making it a multi-role machine.

    The F-22 has recently seen action against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, mostly for situational awareness and signals intelligence.

    Follow Jonah Bennett on Twitter

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