Message to Russia: U.S. deploys advanced fighter jets to Europe
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force sent four of its most advanced fighter jets to Europe Friday in a move designed to reassure NATO allies and send a message to nearby Russia.
“We continue to be concerned about Russian activity, which is evident (in Ukraine), and has been now for more than a year,” Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told reporters during a visit to Camp Pendleton Thursday.
Carter said this concern also applies to Russia’s conduct elsewhere in Europe, which has led the U.S. to rethink its policy toward that country.
“That’s an important strategic development over the last year,” said Carter, “and one that the United States and the NATO alliance need to respond to and are.”
The F-22 Raptors, along with a C-17 Globemaster III and approximately 60 airmen, began their deployment in Germany Friday. They will go on to other parts of Europe for training exercises over the next month before wrapping up their deployment in mid-September.
“This inaugural F-22 training deployment will train with our joint partners and our NATO allies across Europe as part of our continued effort to assure our allies and demonstrate our commitments to security and stability of Europe,” Air Force Secretary Deborah James told reporters Monday ahead of the deployment.
The sophisticated fighter jets, which cost about $143 million apiece, deployed from the 95th Fighter Squadron at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida.
Their deployment is the latest in a series of efforts the U.S. has been undertaking to show support for its European allies.
Over the past year and a half, the military has increased its training exercises on the continent with both air and ground combat forces. It has also sent tanks, armor and other military equipment to the region.