The United States Air Force (USAF) has deployed its 12 F-22 Raptor fighters in support of NATO’s air defense mission in Poland.
The deployed aircraft are from the USAF’s 90th Fighter Squadron (FS), based at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER) in Alaska.
On August 5, F-22 fighter jets arrived at the 32nd Tactical Air Base (AB) in Lask, Poland, and were greeted by Gen. James Hecker, commander of U.S. Air Force Europe-Africa Air Forces and commander of NATO’s Allied Air Command (AAC).
The Vermont Air National Guard’s 158th Fighter Wing (FW) will transfer the mission to the 90th FS, as part of NATO’s efforts to strengthen its collective defense posture.
The 158th FW has been conducting the Coalition Air Policing mission since 2 May.
Hecker said, “The Raptors’ ability to perform both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions will exponentially increase the ability to wage war on the eastern flank as this rotation supports NATO’s air defenses.”
In addition to the 12 Raptors, the six UK Royal Air Force (RAF) F-15E Strike Eagles from the 48th FW Lakenheath are also deploying to Łask AB to provide interim support to the USAF.
Hecker added: “The ability of our airmen to adapt, support and integrate with NATO’s air defense mission demonstrates our ability to respond to an ever-changing, dynamic combat environment and strengthen the alliance.”
Designed to enhance air and missile defense, NATO’s Eastern Flank Air Defense is a defensive mission to protect Allied territory and populations.
During that visit, Hecker also met with the Commander of the General Command of the Polish Armed Forces, General Jarosław Mika, to discuss the US-Poland Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).
The agreement aims to strengthen security cooperation and the long-standing defense partnership between the two countries.