USAF, RAF celebrate historic Raptor deployment

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- Local and national media attended a press briefing, April 14, to cover the largest F-22 Raptor deployment to Europe to date. 

Originating from the 95th Fighter Squadron at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., the aircraft arrived to the United Kingdom, April 11, 2016, and will remain in Europe until May 2016. During their time in the European theater, the aircraft and Airmen will participate in air training with NATO allies based in Europe.

Maj. Gen. Eric Vollmecke, Air National Guard Assistant to the United States Air Forces in Europe Air Forces Africa Commander,  Col. David Eaglin, 48th Fighter Wing vice commander, and Air Commodore Ian Duguid, Typhoon Force commander, attended the event to speak with media and guests.

"Today we host the U.S. Air Force's only fully operational 5th-generation aircraft and continue to prove that we are forward, we are ready, and we are ready now," Vollmecke said. "The Liberty Wing has consistently proven to be ready to answer the call.  Hosting this training deployment is no different."

"Sending F-22s into the European Theater clearly demonstrates the United States' resolve and commitment to the region, and shows we stand together to maintain a Europe that remains free, prosperous, stable and at peace," Eaglin said.

The base's access and freedom of movement provided to the U.S. by allies and European partners, is essential to our mission to employ forces globally to meet contingency requirements, conduct operations, and defend U.S. vital national interests.

"From this strategic location in England, over the next weeks, these aircraft will train not only with other U.S. Air Force aircraft, but they will also train with our British allies in some of the best airspace around," Vollmecke said. 

Duguid explained the alliance between the two countries goes beyond European security.

"Our nations both bear scars from international terrorism, and today our air forces serve together on the front line against Daesh in Iraq and Syria," said Duguid.

The F-22s will also forward deploy from the United Kingdom to NATO bases to maximize training opportunities, demonstrate our steadfast commitment to NATO allies and deter any actions that destabilize regional security.

"We do not waver in our commitment to our alliance," Vollemecke continued. "We stand together in the face of any threat."

Approximately 15 media affiliations attended the press briefing and were given the opportunity to view an RAF Typhoon next to an F-15E Strike Eagle and F-22 Raptor, as they would be seen in the skies working alongside as NATO allies.