Raptor, Predator Wrap Europe Visits

The first F-22 deployment to Europe has concluded, but the short visit helped pilots and crews see how the fifth generation fighter can operate and collaborate with USAF units and allies in the region, US Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa boss Gen. Frank Gorenc told reporters Sept. 14 at ASC15. “I was eager to get the F-22 in theater to show and assure our allies that we are serious about our contribution to NATO,” said Gorenc. However, he emphasized the purpose of the deployment was not to assist in NATO air policing operations in Poland and the Baltic States, where there already are permanently assigned rotational forces, but to make sure USAFE-AFAFRICA’s infrastructure “could support the system” and training activities at its various stops. During the deployment, F-22s visited Germany, Poland, and Estonia. Gorenc also noted an Air National Guard MQ-1 Predator is finishing a short deployment this week at Lielvarde AB, Latvia, marking the first time a USAF MQ-1 Predator has flown inside of European airspace. The deployment, he said, required a great deal of communications, management, and coordination with civilian and military air traffic, but was very successful, he said. “We are looking for new ways to partner with those interested in [remotely piloted aircraft],” Gorenc said. The requirement for persistent intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance from allies and partners in Europe following the Crimea crisis is driving more interest and cooperation in the RPA mission area, he added.