U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors supporting NATO Allied Air Command’s Air Shielding mission along the Eastern Flank executed a combat deployment to Ämari Air Base, Estonia on May 8, to deter aggression in the Baltic Sea region.
In early April, Joint Base Langley-Eustis’ 94th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron had deployed the 12 F-22 Raptors to Poland’s Powidz Air Base in support of the critical mission.
The 12 deployed Raptors are supporting the NATO 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 Baltic nations – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – are situated on a critical air, land and sea corridor, which requires a coordinated approach between allies to maintain and sustain international freedom of maneuver throughout the region.
A Spanish NASAMS air defense system currently deployed to Latvia provides ground-based air defense capabilities in close coordination with the Latvian Control and Reporting Center.
Other deployments to the region
Also on deployment to Estonia are Royal Air Force Typhoons, which are conducting NATO’s peacetime Air Policing mission in concert with the German Air Force.
The RAF assets and personnel are from the 140 Expeditionary Air Wing are based at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland.
The Expeditionary Air Wing in question will also take over the leadership of the long-established Air Policing mission in Estonia starting in April.
Aircraft deployed from the German Air Force are Eurofighter Typhoons from the 71st Tactical Air Wing known as “Richthofen”.
Previous USAF deployment
In August 2022, 12 U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors were deployed to Poland from the 90th Fighter Squadron at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. These aircraft were subsequently based out of the 32nd Tactical Air Base in Łask, Poland.
The F-22 Raptor
The F-22 Raptor is a fifth-generation, twin-engine, single-seat stealth fighter aircraft developed by Lockheed Martin for the United States Air Force (USAF). The aircraft was designed primarily as an air superiority fighter.
Some of the key features and characteristics of the F-22 Raptor are:
The F-22 incorporates advanced stealth technology, including a combination of radar-absorbing materials, smooth angles, and internal weapon bays, which reduce its radar signature and make it difficult for enemy radars to detect and track the aircraft.
The Raptor has exceptional maneuverability, enabling it to perform high-G turns and execute complex aerial maneuvers. It can maintain control at both supersonic and subsonic speeds, allowing for quick changes in direction and rapid evasion of threats.
The F-22 has the ability to cruise at supersonic speeds without using afterburners, which significantly extends its range and allows it to operate more efficiently during long-range missions.
The aircraft is equipped with advanced avionics and sensor systems, including the AN/APG-77 radar, which provides situational awareness and the capability to track and engage multiple targets simultaneously.
The Raptor is powered by two Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 engines, each capable of producing thrust in excess of 35,000 pounds. This enables the aircraft to achieve supersonic speeds (up to Mach 2.25) and climb rapidly.
The F-22 features an advanced cockpit with a glass cockpit display, providing the pilot with a wealth of information and situational awareness.
It also incorporates a helmet-mounted display system that allows the pilot to track and engage targets by looking at them.
The F-22 Raptor was first introduced into service with the USAF in 2005 and has been operational since then. It represents a significant leap in technology and capabilities, setting new standards for stealth, maneuverability, and avionics in modern fighter aircraft.