F-22 Raptors may be deployed to Europe as part of a Theater Security Package.
It looks like the military build-up in eastern Europe may soon feature some multi-role stealth planes.
In fact, according to Air Force Secretary Deborah James, the U.S. may deploy a squadron of F-22 Raptors to Europe to counter the Russian threat. Talking to reporters at Le Bourget airshow in Paris, she said that Russia is “the biggest threat on my mind,” a threat that has materialized itself with a proxy war in Ukraine and an increased activity of Russian Air Force planes around the Baltic region.
So far, the U.S. has responded to these threats with two TSPs (Theater Security Packages), made up of F-15s and A-10s, that will remain in Europe for a period of 6 months, and with a series of drills with NATO allies and partners, attended also by B-52 strategic bombers.
Among the units taking part to the rotational deployments to Europe there are also F-22 squadrons, even though for the moment, this is just one of the possibilities on the table.
Although they have never been deployed to Europe as part of a TSP, Raptors have often taken part in rotational deployments in the Asia-Pacific region since 2009, to show the presence of Washington’s most advanced fighter plane in service in an area where tensions have risen over maritime disputes in the South China Sea.
Whilst TSPs include 12 aircraft, 200-300 support personnel and require an advanced planning, a smaller package of 4 F-22s can be deployed across the world much faster: in 2013 the U.S. Air Force conceived a new rapid deployment concept (dubbed “Rapid Raptor Package“) that allows to deploy a package of F-22s (accompanied by a C-17) and supporting logistics to any forward operating base and have the stealth fighter jet ready for combat operations within 24 hours of deploying with a small logistics footprint.
Image credit: U.S. Air Force