A Dozen U.S. F-22 Raptors Are Deploying To Poland To Enhance NATO Air Shielding

F-22 Poland
Two F-22s from the 3rd Wing landing at RAF Lakenheath on July 26, 2022. (All images credit: Stewart Jack)

The first F-22 Raptors have arrived in the UK yesterday. More are on their way.

Six U.S. Air Force F-22A Raptor, belonging to the 3rd Wing based at Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson, Alaska, have landed at RAF Lakenheath, UK, on Jul. 26, 2022. The stealth multirole jets are the first section of a dozen Raptors that are deploying to Europe (a second one is expected to arrive at the base in Suffolk, England, on Jul. 27).

Flying as CUBE 11-16, the F-22 landed at 19.41LT.

F-22A landing at RAF Lakenheath.

Here are the serials included noted there by our contributor Stewart Jack who also took the photographs of the Raptors that you can find in this post.

05-4090 F-22A 90th FS CUBE 11
06-4110 F-22A 525th FS CUBE 12
07-4151 F-22A 90th FS CUBE 13
10-4193 F-22A 90th FS CUBE 15
06-4112 F-22A 525th FS CUBE 16
04-4074 F-22A 90th FS CUBE 14

While there were rumours within the aviation spotters community that the 5th generation aircraft would first move to Souda Bay, Crete, Greece, remaining there for two weeks, before moving to Spangdahlem Air Base, in Germany, according to U.S. Air Force Europe and Air Forces Africa, the F-22A are on their way to the 32nd Tactical Air Base, Łask, Poland, to support NATO Air Shielding in the European Theater. It’s still not clear whether the Raptors will go to Poland from the UK, or take a “tour” to Greece before moving to eastern Europe.

The standard ferry configuration of the Raptor includes external fuel tanks.

According to USAFE-AFAFRICA, “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.”

The aircraft from the 3rd Wing, will be supporting Air Shielding as part of the 90th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron.

Conceived as U.S.’s premier air superiority fighter, the Raptor has evolved into a multirole platform that can attack its own targets using Precision Guided Munitions, like two 1,000-lb GBU-32 JDAMs (Joint Direct Attack Munitions) or 8 GBU-39 small diameter bombs, as well as acting as “electronic warfare enabled sensor-rich multi-role aircraft” escorting 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.

In simple words, similarly to what the F-35 can do with its ESM (Electronic Support Measures) sensors, the F-22 can leverage advanced onboard sensors, as the AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar, to collect valuable details about the enemy Order of Battle, then they share the “picture” with attack planes, command and control assets, as well as Airborne Early Warning aircraft, while escorting other manned or unmanned aircraft towards the targets.

“The Raptor is a critical component of the global strike Task Force, and designed to project air dominance, rapidly and at great distances to defeat threats attempting to deny access to our nation’s Army, Navy and Marine Corps. It cannot be matched by any known or projected fighter aircraft, making it a highly strategic platform to support NATO Air Shielding.”

The F-22A will support NATO Air Shielding in Poland as part of the 90th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron. Airframes belong to the 90th and 525th FS.
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.