U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor fighter jets arrived at RAF Lakenheath in the UK this week en route to support NATO’s Air Shielding mission in Poland.
The U.S. Air Force say that the F-22 Raptor performs both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions, and “its fifth generation capability contributes to the Air Shielding mission enhancing interoperability and cohesion among Allied nations”.
“Integration with NATO Allies and Partners further demonstrates the Alliance’s dedication to deter and defend in an increasingly complex and changing security environment.”
According to a news release from the NATO Allied Air Command Public Affairs Office:
“The US deployment of their fifth generation fighter aircraft boosts NATO’s posture for assurance, deterrence and defence in Europe. Together with other Allies’ contributions this deployment is a clear expression of NATO’s commitment to readiness which promotes regional security and stability.
Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, there has been an increased use of missiles, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and combat aircraft close to the borders of NATO nations. This increases the air and missile threat to NATO territory and populations, primarily due to potential miscalculation or loss of guidance or control.
The NATO Air Shielding mission integrates Allied Air and Surface Based Air and Missile Defence units into the NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence system under NATO Command and Control. It will provide a near seamless shield from the Baltic to Black Seas, ensuring NATO Allies are better able to safeguard and protect Alliance territory, populations and forces from air and missile threat.”