F-22 Raptors arrive in Europe

US Air Force Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptors have once more deployed to Europe.

Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptors from the 94th Fighter Squadron (FS) of the 1st Fighter Wing at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia arrived in Europe on April 8. The unit tried to cross the North Atlantic on April 6 and April 7, but it was not until the third attempt on the 8th that the fifth-generation fighters arrived at Powidz Air Base in Poland. However, there are conflicting reports of whether eight or nine jets completed the journey after a number of the 12 planned failed to make the crossing.

US Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa previously stated that the Raptors are to undertake deterrence operations at Powidz Air Base as part of a scheduled aircraft rotation in support of the US’ forward fighter presence along NATO’s Eastern Flank.

A 94th Fighter Squadron F-22A Raptor – this unit is due to deploy to Poland.
A 94th Fighter Squadron F-22A Raptor – the unit which has deployed to Poland. US Air Force/Staff Sgt Antoinette Gibson

The Raptors are taking over the fighter mission from F-15E Strike Eagles of the 48th Fighter Wing from RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk, which has been undertaking this tasking since November 2022.

Prior to the Strike Eagles assuming this mission it had been performed by another unit of F-22s – the 90th Fighter Squadron which is part of the 3rd Wing. The 12 fighters from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska stopped off at RAF Lakenheath in July 2022 en route to Poland (returning to their home base in December), however the 94th FS flew direct to Poland.