United States Air Force Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor tactical stealth fighters on Monday arrived at Ämari Air Base, West of Tallinn.
The jets are deploying as part of NATO Allied Air Command's Air Shielding mission along its Eastern Flank, with the intention of deterring aggression in the Baltic Sea region, a United States Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa (USAFE-AFAFRICA) press release states.
Estonia, along with Latvia and Lithuania, are located on on a critical air, land, and sea corridor and so air policing requires s a coordinated approach between allied nations, to maintain and sustain international freedom of maneuver throughout the region, U.S. Air Forces in Europe say.
The deployment is deemed an Agile Combat Employment, and follows the arrival of 12 F-22 Raptors at Poland's Powidz Air Base last month.
The F-22s are from Joint Base Langley-Eustis' 94th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, normally based near Newport News, Virginia. They augment the Alliance's Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) and Counter-Integrated Air Defense System (C-IADS) capabilities, in relation to the nearly 1,500 mile- (over 2,400 km)-long border which makes up NATO's eastern flank.
U.S. Air Forces in Europe say they exemplify, by the rapid deployment, the operational readiness of coalition forces throughout the European theater and their ability to respond in defense of NATO territory.
Other examples of allied air defense systems include the Norwegian Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS) unit, in Spanish service, currently deployed in Latvia, and Eurofighter Typhoons from Britain's Royal Air Force, which recently took on the lead role of the Baltic Air Policing Mission at Ämari.
The U.S.A.F. says that effective IAMD structures incorporate air, land, sea, space, and cyber domains, with the aim of providing full-spectrum awareness of any airspace when faced with complex adversary threats.
Introduced in 2005, the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor is a single-seat, twin-engine, all-weather stealth tactical fighter aircraft.
The Raptor's sister plane, the newer Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, has been deployed to Estonia several times, both in U.S.A.F. service and in that of other allied nations' air forces, including Italy's.
Editor: Andrew Whyte