The US deploys F-22 fighters to Estonia from Poland

The United States Air Force has deployed F-22 fighter jets, supporting the NATO Allied Air Command’s mission along the eastern flank, to Estonia’s Ämari Air Base.

The planes were deployed on 8 May with the purpose of deterring aggression in the Baltic Sea region, NATO said in a statement, calling it an Agile Combat Employment deployment.

The US fighters joined their Royal Air Force colleagues who are conducting NATO’s air policing mission out of Ämari with their Eurofighter Typhoons.

“In early April, Joint Base Langley-Eustice’s 94th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron deployed 12 F-22s to Poland’s Powidz Air Base in support of the critical mission, which augments the alliance’s Integrated Air and Missile Defence and Counter-Integrated Air Defence System capabilities to safeguard the border along NATO’s eastern flank,” NATO said.

Deterring and mitigating any potential threat

“Rapidly fielding forces in the Baltic Sea region highlights the operational readiness of allied forces and their ability to respond to defend NATO territory. The enhanced posture allows the alliance to deter and mitigate any potential air and missile threat. The Air Shielding mission is a purely defensive mission designed to shield and protect allied territory and populations and is a key component of NATO’s Deterrence and Defence Posture.”

An F-22 Raptor pilot from the 95th Fighter Squadron in Estonia’s Ämari Air Base in 2016. Photo by the Estonian Defence Forces.

According to NATO, “Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are situated on a critical air, land and sea corridor, which requires a coordinated approach between allies to maintain and sustain international freedom of maneuver throughout the region”.

The alliance noted that its integrated air and missile defence structure incorporates air, land, sea, space and cyber domains to provide full-spectrum awareness of airspace faced with complex adversary threats. “As a highly maneuverable stealth aircraft, the F-22 is designed to rapidly project dominance, penetrate evolving threats, and achieve air superiority,” NATO said.

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