April 13, 2016 (by A1C Erin R. Babis) - F-22 Raptors from the 95th Fighter Squadron at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., arrived at the 48th Fighter Wing, April 11, to train alongside F-15 Eagles and Royal Air Force aircraft in a realistic training environment.
USAF F-22A block 30 #05-4107 from the 95th FS lands at RAF Lakenheath on April 12th, 2016. The aircraft arrival marks the second time the U.S. European Command has hosted a deployment of F-22 aircraft in the EUCOM Area of Responsibility. [USAF photo by A1C. Erin R. Babis]
"Air dominance is something that the U.S. Air Force holds at a premium," said Capt Andrew Gray, 95th FS
pilot. "Anytime we fight any of our threats down the road, specifically as a NATO
alliance or as a joint partnership with the U.K., one of the first things we need to achieve is air dominance over the battle field, so we're going to train specifically to that mission set."
As Gray explained, RAF Lakenheath is a launching platform for operations throughout the European continent. As a result, training here allows the Raptor pilots to perfect their skills while learning to seamlessly work with NATO allies and U.K. partners.
"Coming here and working with the 48th [Fighter Wing] allows us to train with the Strike Eagles, F-15Cs and U.K. assets to refine our mission set with theirs; and get our integration standards and tactics, techniques and procedures squared away, so we can train to the reality of what we will use when we go into combat zones and work as an integrated force," Gray explained.
The F-22 training deployment is part of the European Reassurance Initiative, which provides support to bolster the security of NATO allies and partners in Europe. It also proves the capability of 5th-generation fighters to deploy successfully to European bases, while affording the pilots the opportunity to familiarize themselves on training and flying within Europe.