RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany --- F-22 Raptor aircraft from the 1st Fighter Wing at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia have deployed to Europe for a Flight Training Deployment (FTD) to conduct air training with other U.S. Europe-based aircraft and NATO Allies.
Six aircraft and approximately 150 Airmen, who are returning to the United States from the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility, arrived to RAF Lakenheath, U.K. on Oct. 8. While in the European theater, the Airmen and aircraft will participate in the Royal Air Force (RAF) exercise Eastern Zephyr to conduct realistic training in a joint environment and bolster capabilities with NATO allies.
In addition to participation in the RAF exercise, Airmen and F-22 aircraft have forward deployed from the U.K. to Germany and Poland to demonstrate their ability to quickly respond and reassure allies and partners that the United States Air Force is here, in Europe, forward and ready.
"The deployment of fifth-generation combat aircraft to the European AOR is a concrete example of how the U.S. is engaged, postured and ready with a credible force to assure, deter and defend in an increasingly complex security environment," said Gen. Tod D. Wolters, U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa commander. "There is simply no substitute for our forward presence here in Europe."
The F-22 FTD is funded by the European Deterrence Initiative (EDI), which enhances the U.S. deterrence posture in Europe by improving the readiness and responsiveness of U.S. forces. EDI will provide approximately $1 billion in funding to the U.S. Air Force for Increased Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance processing; continued support of missions such as NATO Air Policing and Theater Security Packages; enhanced prepositioning of contingency air operations equipment; improvements to airfield infrastructure and prepositioning of air operations equipment and enablers in NATO ally countries.
The deployment of the fifth generation F-22 fighter marks the third time Raptors have deployed to Europe. The first deployment was to Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, together with visits to Estonia and Poland in August 2015. The second was to RAF Lakenheath, U.K., along with forward locations in Lithuania and Romania in April 2016.
The F-22 Raptor is the world's premiere operational fifth-generation fighter. Fifth-generation capability combines the attributes of maneuverability, advanced and fused avionics, multi-role capability and stealth technology. Last month, when Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein hosted President Donald Trump at the Joint Base Andrews Air and Space Expo, Goldfein said air superiority is and will continue to be paramount to the success of the U.S. military and that when it comes to air superiority, the fifth generation raises the game of the fourth generation.
"The most important thing the Air Force provides the joint force is air superiority," said Goldfein. "These developments allow the Air Force to overcome advanced enemy defenses that inhibit fourth generation aircraft."