The US Air Force is to deploy F-22 Raptor fifth-generation fighters to support 36,000 troops taking part in NATO’s largest exercise in over a decade.
The F-22 fighter’s deployment in Europe was first floated in June, when Secretary James listed Russian Federation as the “biggest threat on my mind” when asked about the greatest threat faced by the US Air Force by a reporter at a Paris Air Show. Reporting on the status of that year-old campaign, James said the Air Force has flown more than 48,000 sorties in support of operations in Syria and Iraq, including air strikes, tanker sorties and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
The U.S. works with other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member countries under the European Reassurance Initiative to deter Russia’s military aggression in the region. “And we’re doing that in an approach that I’ve called strong and balanced”.
Unveiled in 1997, procurement of the F-22 began in fiscal year 1999. Air Force spokesman told Breaking Defense in an email that both 10-year estimates in the two reports were incorrect and that “the program costs have remained stable”, presumably at $41.7 billion. It would also include an examination of the overall acquisition strategy, technology design, development and testing status, cost and schedule implications, and expected technological performance. That could help the service makes it case as it seeks billions of dollars over the next several years to update the fighter jet’s complex systems.
“Given the importance of this issue and the magnitude of the discrepancy, the Air Force must explain the nature and cause of this error”, says the letter from Speier, who is the top Democrat on the House Armed Services oversight and investigations subcommittee.
James said the deployment would give F-22 pilots more experience with the European terrain.
Air Force Chief of Staff Mark Welsh said at the briefing that the new aircraft eventually would replace aging B-52 and B-1B bombers. “That’s new. That’s one thing, subsequently, that we have to modify to and counter”.
Secretary James emphasized that the primary goal of the U.S. air power deployments to Europe is to assist in training America’s European allies. “And that’s what this is for”.