The US Air Force (USAF) has deployed its 12 F-22 Raptor fighter aircraft to support Nato’s Air Shielding mission in Poland.

The deployed aircraft are from the USAF’s 90th Fighter Squadron (FS) based at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER) in Alaska.

On 5 August, the F-22 fighter jets arrived at the 32nd Tactical Air Base (AB) in Łask, Poland and were welcomed by general James Hecker, USAF in Europe-Air Forces Africa commander and Nato Allied Air Command (AAC) commander.

Vermont Air National Guard’s 158th Fighter Wing (FW) will hand over the mission to 90th FS, under Nato’s efforts to bolster its collective defence posture.

The 158th FW has been executing the coalition’s Air Policing mission since 2 May.

Hecker said: “The Raptors’ ability to perform both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions will exponentially increase the warfighting capability along the eastern flank as this rotation supports Nato’s Air Shielding.”

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Apart from 12 Raptors, the UK Royal Air Force’s (RAF) six F-15E Strike Eagles from the 48th FW, RAF Lakenheath are also being deployed to Łask AB to provide temporary support to the USAF.

Hecker added: “Our airmen’s ability to adapt, support and integrate with Nato’s Air Shielding mission shows our ability to respond to an ever-changing dynamic warfighting environment and strengthen the alliance.”

Designed to boost air and missile defence posture, Nato’s Air Shielding along the eastern flank is a defensive mission to protect allied territory and populations.

During this visit, Hecker also met Polish Armed Forces General Command’s commander general Jarosław Mika to discuss the US-Poland Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

The agreement aims to enhance security cooperation and the long-standing defence partnership between the two countries.