United States Air Force officials said the deployment would train alongside other nations' militaries, and support eastern European NATO members concerned over Russia's actions in eastern Ukraine.
"Russia's military activity in the Ukraine continues to be of great concern to us and to our European allies," Air Force Secretary Deborah James said.
"For the Air Force, an F-22 deployment is certainly on the strong side of the coin."
The move will allow F-22 pilots to gain more experience over European terrain, James said.
Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark A. Welsh said it would test the jets' ability to communicate and fight with other advanced warplanes operated by European allies.
Officials would not say when nor where the jets would be deployed.
The single-seat, twin-engine F-22 was designed by Lockheed and Boeing Co as an air superiority fighter, but can be used for ground attacks, electronic warfare and signals intelligence.
The US has used the planes to carry out some of its attacks against "Islamic State" (IS) militants.
After teasing the possibility of Raptors deploying to Europe months ago, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James has confirmed to reporters that Raptor is indeed going to be sent to Europe as part of an ongoing initiative to reassure NATO allies of America’s commitment to their defense.
Russia has said it will greatly increase its fighting capability along its border with NATO…
Secretary James made it clear that the move to send the F-22 to Russia’s front doorstep is part of Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s “strong and balanced” approach to reminding Russia of the consequences of extra-border ambitions:
“Rotational forces and training exercises help us maintain our strong and balanced approach, and we will certainly be continuing those in the future... For the Air Force, an F-22 deployment is certainly on the strong side of the coin.”
Exactly what F-22 unit will be sent to Europe and where they would be based remains unclear, although General. Mark Welsh, the U.S. Air Force’s Chief of Staff noted:
“We’ll get the F-22 into facilities that we would potentially use in a conflict in Europe... This is a natural evolution of our bringing our best air-to-air capability in to train with partners... We have an aircraft with pretty advanced capabilities, and we need, and they would like, for us to be able to interoperate in multiple type scenarios... And being able to train side by side with them and do that kind of training is really, really important for us. And that’s what this is for.”
The Raptor’s inaugural long-term deployment to Europe (it has had a near constant presence in the Middle East) will most likely follow along the lines of what the Florida and Oregon Air National Guard have executed in their F-15C/Ds since Spring. As part of the ongoing Operation Atlantic Resolve, the Eagles hopped East from one key NATO base to another, training with local units along the way, before ending up at a temporary Eastern European air defense post
Sending a detachment of Raptors to Europe also points to the possibility that things are not necessarily improving when it comes to Russian-NATO relations. If anything else, they are getting worse as forward deploying the world’s only truly operational 5th generation fighter to Eastern Europe is a card best held until needed.
United States sends F-22 fighters to Europe amid rising tensions with Russia | World | News | Daily Express