U.S. is about to deploy F-22 Raptor stealth jets to Europe in a show of force against Russia

F-22 Raptors to be deployed to Europe “very soon.”

The Air Force is about to deploy the F-22 Raptor 5th generation multi-role stealth fighter to the European theater, as a potential deterrent to Russian aggression, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said on Aug. 24.

The Raptor deployment had already been announced in June, when Air Force Secretary, at Le Bourget airshow in Paris, said that Russia was the “biggest threat” her mind, but it now appears to be few days away.

So far the U.S. has responded to the proxy war in Ukraine and to the spike in Russia Air Force activity in the Baltic region with two 6-month TSPs (Theater Security Packages), made up of F-15s and A-10s, and stepping up its presence at regional exercises with NATO allies and partners, attended also by B-52 strategic bombers and A-10 attack planes.

Raptors have often taken part in rotational deployments in the Asia-Pacific region since 2009, but have never been deployed to Europe. It would be interesting to know which airbases are being considered for such deployment that should include 12 aircraft and 200-300 support personnel even though the aircraft will probably not be stationed at a single base but will perform short rotations to a few airports in eastern Europe as already done by the F-15s and A-10s of the previous TSPs (that have visited Germany, UK, Poland, Estonia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, etc.).

Although it was born U.S.’s premier air superiority fighter the F-22 has become a multirole aircraft that has had its baptism of fire in the air-to-surface role during the air war against ISIS: along with air-to-air missiles, the Raptor can also drop Precision Guided Munitions: two 1,000-lb GBU-32 JDAMs (Joint Direct Attack Munitions) or 8 GBU-39 small diameter bombs.

However, according to the U.S. Air Force, during the air campaign against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, the once troubled stealth plane has emerged as F-22 is pivotal to ensure the safety of the other aircraft involved in the air campaign: the Raptors act as “electronic warfare enabled sensor-rich multi-role aircraft” that provide key kinetic situational awareness to other aircraft: they escort strike packages into and out of the target area while gathering details about the enemy systems and spreading intelligence to other “networked” assets supporting the mission to improve the overall situational awareness.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force


About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. “Raptors have often taken part in rotational deployments in the Asia-Pacific region since 2009, but have never been deployed to Europe.”
    Bad info here. 4x 3rd Wing F-22’s deployed to RAF Lakenheath, Suffolk, UK in July 2010 for a couple of weeks flying local sorties.

    • Hi Gary,
      Thanks, I’ve not considered that deployment because IIRC the four Raptors deployed to support the F-22 appearance at Farnborough and RIAT (more or less like the F-35s were expected to do last year before they were grounded and forced to cancel). So it was a sort of airshow deployment rather than a training deployment. Anyway I should have mentioned that deployment as well.

  2. Good plane but not nearly enough manufactured to be effective on all fronts as the world situation continues to devolve.

  3. even the now 642 million dollar all inclusive unit cost f-22 could not drive back ISIS, but the kurdish peshmerga and other kurdish units do. iraqi troops suck, because the ex-saddam troops were alienated by maliki and they now serve in ISIS. ethnic strife will rule the middle east for decades to come and nothing will change that… europe now drowns in refugees, mainly germany, a result of shortsighted politics by crazy politicians and militarists. btw now syrian reformers say they underestimated the task of overthrowing assad and the results of the failed revolution – destabilization of syria and rise of ISIS … doh!

    • All 187 of the F-22 Raptors could not drive back ISIS because it’s an air superiority fighter with limited air-to-ground capability (essentially taking over the mission of the F-117 with this capability). The relevance of the F-22 against ISIS isn’t very valid whatsoever. The presence of the F-22 Raptor was more of an intimidation to Syria not to get involved with US airstrikes and to test the aircraft in a “safer” combat environment. To fight an enemy like ISIS you need ground troops in conjunction with air and artillery support. The initial campaigns conducted did much to degrade the fixed capabilities of ISIS but ground troops need to do the rest. At some point dropping bombs becomes counterproductive because there is nothing to drop bombs on anymore.

      • Exactly! It is more psychological then militarily sound to use F-22 to scare Assad and fight ISIS.
        First of all,Assad would never attack US first as he is not mad idiot, second F-22 is worthless against single walking terrorist.

        • Given the mesmerizing politics of the region I wouldn’t put it past Assad to say something to the effect of, “Listen you have my approval to bomb them into oblivion but I can’t lose face so deploy some of those new F-22s so that I have ‘no choice’ but to back down.” So like with Pakistan and Yemen, the government will decry US action but on the back end approve and allow it, albeit the Pakistani situation is much more complex. Yemen is pretty cut and dry – well it was, now it’s a mess.

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