PACAF Raptors own the skies alongside NATO Allies

  • Published
  • Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs

U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors and service members from the 90th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, serve as the first Pacific Air Forces unit to deploy in support of NATO since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The 90th EFS arrived at the 32nd Tactical Air Base, Łask, Poland in early August to support NATO Air Shielding and enhance NATO’s defense posture on its eastern flank.

“It’s important that we are here,” said Capt. “QuAG” Meyer, 90th EFS mission commander. “Not only because of the conflict that is going on with Russia and Ukraine, but us being here in theater is a good reminder to everybody that the U.S. is supporting our NATO Allies. We’re here and we’re ready.”

This year marks the F-22 Raptor’s 15th anniversary in the Pacific region and 25th anniversary of consistently providing the U.S. with fifth-generation air superiority and dominance, which now extends to NATO Allies and partners in the European theater.

“We are the absolute best at air dominance,” said Meyer. “The F-22 was designed specifically to gain and maintain air superiority, so it makes sense that we are here as a guaranteed asset that will be able to own the sky.”

Since arriving in Poland, the 90th EFS has trained and integrated with Polish Air Force F-16s and MiG-29s, Royal Danish Air Force F-16s, Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoons, French Air Force Dassault Rafales, Belgian Air Force F-16s, German Air Force EF 2000s and our very own U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortresses to enhance interoperability throughout NATO’s airspace.

“Training here forces us to overcome challenges that we don’t normally face at home,” said Capt. “Rippa” Heater, 90th EFS Four-ship Flight Lead. “Like adapting to the airspace, planning with other countries that we aren’t co-located with, or various logistics obstacles. It all reflects the fog and friction of real world scenarios. Once it comes together, we get right back to what we’re good at.”

The adaptability to significant differences in the theaters of station and deployment of these PACAF pilots, from the vast Pacific Rim to the congested European Continent, demonstrate the superiority of not only our aircraft but our training and personnel.

The 90th EFS pilots support the NATO Air Shielding mission by flying various training missions every day and stand watch on alert 24/7. During their time at Łask, the 90th EFS has already participated in a Large Force Exercise and are planning future Agile Combat Employment operations throughout the region to train and execute missions quickly in unpredictable ways.

The Raptors also participated in the Slovak International Air Fest to reinforce our partnership with the Slovak Air Force and all participating NATO Allies.

“This is an eye opening experience to what actual integration with our NATO Allies looks like. If the call comes, we are better prepared,” said Meyer.

The 90th’s presence in the region strengthens U.S. and NATO’s unity each day as forces come together to train and deter in an ever-evolving threat environment.