Plane spotters are out in force at RAF Lakenheath to see the USAF’s latest fighter here for a training visit.
F-22 Raptor fighters from the 95th Fighter Squadron at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, arrived on Monday to train alongside the 48th Fighter Wing’s F-15 Eagles and RAF aircraft.
The 19m-long multi-purpose jets, which combine manoeuvrability, advanced technology and stealth ability, are capable of twice the speed of sound and cost $143 million each.
Capt Andrew Gray, a 95th FS pilot, explained, RAF Lakenheath is a launching platform for operations throughout Europe so training here allows the Raptor pilots to perfect their skills while learning to work with NATO allies and UK partners.
He added: “Coming here and working with the 48th allows us to train with the Strike Eagles, F-15Cs and UK assets to refine our mission set with theirs and get our integration standards and tactics, techniques and procedures squared away, so we can train to the reality of what we will use when we go into combat zones and work as an integrated force.”
The F-22 training deployment is part of the USAF’s European Reassurance Initiative, to bolster the security of NATO allies and partners in Europe. It also proves the capability of the fighters to deploy successfully to European bases, while affording the pilots the chance to familiarise with training and flying in Europe.