US Air Force considers deployment of F-22 Raptor fighter jet in Eastern Europe

Fiona Keating — Business Insider June 16, 2015

F-22. Click to enlarge

F-22. Click to enlarge

Use of the most advanced aircraft in the United States’ arsenal may prevent concerns over Russian hostility among Nato allies.

Tensions are escalating after Russia warned against American-led Nato expansion in Eastern Europe. “I could easily foresee the day … when the F-22 might rotate in,” Deborah James, the U.S. secretary of the Air Force, said at the Paris air show.

“We face many threats [throughout the world], but Russia is the biggest threat right now. The hybrid warfare that Russia is conducting in Ukraine is extremely worrisome.”

The tactic of using the F-22 and other military equipment is “the most aggressive step of [the] Pentagon and NATO since the Cold War last century,” said General Yuriy Yakubov, Russian Ministry of Defence spokesman.

He added that Russia would be forces to build up its military strength on its Western border and use short-range missiles to guard its Baltic stronghold of Kaliningrad.

“The group of forces along the perimeter of Russia’s western border will be reinforced first of all, including new formations of tanks, artillery and aircraft units,” Yakubov said.

Russia has withdrawn from the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, so it can move its forces to border regions. This means that it is no longer bound by restrictions on the number of aircraft, tanks and troops that can be placed on its own borders.

Russia will receive its first batch of fifth generation fighters in late 2016 or early 2017, according to Yuri Slyusar, the head of Russia’s United Aircraft Corp.

Sukhoi, which is part of UAC, has already delivered four prototypes and two test beds of the aircraft, known as the T-50, and will deliver another three flying prototypes this year, Slyusar said at the Paris Air Show.

“That means testing can be expanded and more faster,” said a spokesman.

“There are no delays on this program,” he added.

Despite criticism over military budgets, James said: “Now is not the time for [defense] spending to be going down. This is a serious matter.”

The F-22 has previously needed to fix some technological difficulties, according to a Guardian report. Most crucially a flaw with its oxygen systems that resulted in pilot blackouts and deaths, and left the whole fleet grounded in 2011 twice.


Analyst Warns Russia Will Respond to F-22 Deployment in Europe

Sputnik News — June 16, 2015

Russia will likely retaliate against the Pentagon’s planned deployment of its F-22 Raptor fighters in Europe, according to Vladimir Batyuk, from the Institute for US and Canadian Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The US’ possible deployment of its F-22 Raptor fighters in Europe will inevitably provoke confrontation between Russia and NATO; in any case, the Russian side may respond in kind to Washington’s move, Vladimir Batyuk, from the Institute for US and Canadian Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency.

“As for the fifth-generation Raptor fighter jets, their deployment will certainly be an additional impetus for Moscow to speed up the process of developing and putting on service the Russian response, the fifth-generation T-50 fighter. The Russian side may also retaliate against other similar actions by the Americans and their allies”, Batyuk said.

He recalled that the Russian Defense Ministry did not rule out that Moscow may deploy additional Iskander mobile short-range ballistic missile systems in Kaliningrad, in response to the possible deployment of US heavy military hardware in Eastern Europe.

When asked whether the F-22 fighter poses a threat of a fundamentally different level to Russia, Batyuk said that it’s too early to jump to conclusions.

“It is difficult to say to what extent these [F-22] planes are superior to those systems that are currently on service in Russia. In this respect, there are different points of view, but in any case, Moscow has the necessary means to neutralize this threat,” Batyuk said.

He predicted that this will mean an additional buildup of Russian troops and arms on its western border with Europe, which will, in turn, result in “not only political but also military confrontation between Russia and NATO.”

On Monday, the Wall Street Journal quoted US Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James as saying that Washington is considering increasing the number of its forces in Europe as well as the deployment of F-22 fighter jets there in the face of strained relations with Russia.