The F-22A Raptor is the only 5th generation jet fighter in service today and it stands tall among others. It entered service in 2005 and only 183 were produced before the production line was shut due to excessive rise in costs. Originally designed to counter the super maneuverable Flanker with stealth and maneuverability, the F-22 has had its fair share of controversies. The Raptor however has now come off age and proven its mettle in conflict. It is seen as a symbol of air supremacy and cutting edge technology thanks to lack of worthy competitors in service today. It has been deployed to Malaysia, the Middle East, Japan etc. Its latest deployment brings it to mainland Europe, its first ever deployment to the continent. This was done to show support to the American allies in Europe as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve.
Four Raptors from the 95th fighter squadron based at Tyndall AFB have been deployed to Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany. The Raptors arrived on 28th of August along with the C-17. The USAF has developed a rapid deployment system called RRP (Rapid Raptor Package) where 4 F-22s are rapidly deployed to an allied air base along with a supporting C-17 in response to hostilities. They first tested it by deploying the Raptors to Hawaii and this is the first major use of this package.
Impressive night take off.
Two of the four Raptors have been deployed to Poland to practise along side the Polish Air Force which flies F-16 Block 52 along with MiG-29s and Su-22s. It being speculated that the Raptors will be deployed to several eastern European bases and will train alongside the respective air-forces, USAF and NATO assets. It is being speculated that sorties along side the Gripen are also planned.
Photo Credit: Filip Modrzejewski – Foto Poork