F-22 Raptors arrive at RAF Lakenheath for more Eastern Europe action

On July 26, six F-22A Raptors from the 90th Fighter Squadron (FS), 3rd Wing, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, touched down at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk.

The serials of the first flight that landed yesterday evening were serials 04-4074, 05-4090, 06-4110, 06-4112, 07-4151 and 10-4193. The fifth-generation jets utilised the callsign 'CUBE 11-16' for the transatlantic flight from the US.

Supporting the Raptors over the Atlantic were an array of tanker platforms from the latest KC-46A Pegasus to the oldest KC-135 Stratotankers. The tankers operated under “Bobby” callsign and refuelled the aircraft on various stages of the flight into RAF Lakenheath including close to the East coast of the US, Iceland, and Scotland.

A pair of USAF F-22A Raptors pull away after being refuelled by a KC-135 Stratotanker over the Ocean
A pair of USAF F-22A Raptors pull away after being refuelled by a KC-135 Stratotanker over the Ocean USAF/ DVIDS

Acting as the 90th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron (EFS) the jets will be joined by another six F-22As from the unit for NATO air shielding work in Eastern Europe. The 90th EFS is believed to be deploying the 12 Raptors to 32nd Tactical Air Base, Lask in Poland. This comes despite multiple sources mentioning Souda Bay, Greece, as a destination for the Raptors to join the F-35As of the 495th FS.

This could still be the case if the unit operate under Agile Combat Employment (ACE) and forward deploy multiple aircraft to multiple locations around Eastern Europe like many other units including Seymour Johnson AFB F-15E Strike Eagles during their time in Eastern Europe and F-35A Lightning IIs of 34th FS/388th FW at Hill AFB. The Raptors are also due to operate from Spangdahlem Air Base, in Germany after they operate in Poland to replace the current F-35As.

The second flight of F-22As are due to arrive today on July 27, at RAF Lakenheath to join the six already at the base. Rumours are currently circulating that the arrival of this second flight is delayed 24 hours, the reason is unknown, and is unconfirmed.

The first flight of six are believed to depart RAF Lakenheath at approximately 7am local tomorrow to the next location but again, this is unconfirmed and like any military movements can slide one way or the other. Key.Aero will update this story with the latest information as soon as possible, including the arrival of the second flight into RAF Lakenheath.

A close up shot during air-to-air refuelling operations of the F-22A Raptor
A close up shot during air-to-air refuelling operations of the F-22A Raptor USAF/ DVIDS

For more on the Alaskan F-22A Raptors read the August issue of Air Forces monthly. The issue includes a multi-page feature on Alaskan AirPower: https://www.key.aero/article/airforces-monthly-august-2022