A dozen U.S. F-22 Raptors are deploying to Poland to enhance NATO air shielding
Six U.S. Air Force F-22A Raptor, belonging to the 3rd Wing based at Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson, Alaska, have landed at RAF Lakenheath UK. The stealth multirole jets are the first section of a dozen Raptors that are deploying to Europe (a second one is expected to arrive at the base in Suffolk, England, on Jul. 27).
According to USAFE-AFAFRICA, “the NATO Air Shielding mission integrates Allied Air and Surface Based Air and Missile Defence units into the NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence system under NATO Command and Control. It will provide a near seamless shield from the Baltic to Black Seas, ensuring NATO Allies are better able to safeguard and protect Alliance territory, populations and forces from air and missile threat.”
Conceived as U.S.’s premier air superiority fighter, the Raptor has evolved into a multirole platform that can attack its own targets using Precision Guided Munitions, like two 1,000-lb GBU-32 JDAMs (Joint Direct Attack Munitions) or 8 GBU-39 small diameter bombs, as well as acting as “electronic warfare enabled sensor-rich multi-role aircraft” escorting strike packages into and out of the target area while gathering details about the enemy systems and spreading intelligence to other “networked” assets supporting the mission to improve the overall situational awareness.
In simple words, similarly to what the F-35 can do with its ESM (Electronic Support Measures) sensors, the F-22 can leverage advanced onboard sensors, as the AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar, to collect valuable details about the enemy Order of Battle, then they share the “picture” with attack planes, command and control assets, as well as Airborne Early Warning aircraft, while escorting other manned or unmanned aircraft towards the targets.