The US Department of Defense agreed to sell Poland for a symbolic $24 F-22 Raptors, which were pulled early from the line. The whole operation has been preparing for more than a year and will be, among other things, the transfer of compensation for Polish MiG-29 fighters to Ukraine.
By the end of 2025, Poland may be the second country in the world, after the United States, to operate two types of fifth-generation aircraft. In addition to the F-35 already purchased for the Polish Air Force, the Americans offered to supply us with 24 F-22A Block 20 Raptor from a batch of 32 fighters, which, according to previous plans, were to be withdrawn from the US Air Force ( USAF) and sent to Davis Monthan Depot in Arizona.
Poland will receive planes for a symbolic dollar, but the whole process will not be without costs. First of all, you will have to pay for the inspection of the Raptors, because those who have been retired by the USAF are no longer in line service, but were used mainly for training. Poland will also provide funds for armaments, training of pilots and technical personnel, and preparation of ground infrastructure.
The Americans have already estimated that it will take about three years (including pilot training), and all F-22s will be delivered to Poland in 2024-2025. This will coincide with the delivery of the first six of 32 F-35s. Therefore, this time is relatively short, but we must remember that preparations for the transition began in March 2022 (after the attack on Ukraine), although it was kept secret.
Thanks to these previous works, it is already known that the base airport for the Polish F-22 will be the 32nd tactical air base in ask. The stay of the F-22s at this base in 2022 was not only an enhancement of NATO’s air protection operation, but also a validation of whether the transfer of American fighters to Poland is possible at all. While the Raptors are stationed there in 2022, the US-Polish Committee reviewed the existing infrastructure there and found it ideal for this type of mission.
As it turned out, the German side also participated in the preparations for the transfer of American aircraft. The reserve airfield for the Polish Raptors in case of emergency will be the US Air Force Base Ramstein in Germany. This is due to the tasks that the “Polish” F-22s have to perform in Europe. Their goal is to defend the entire eastern flank of NATO and, if necessary, also the skies over Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria. this is not possible. Only from Poland, but also from Ramstain with a Raptor range of 3,000 km (without refueling in the air).
This solution was proposed by the US Air Force itself for two reasons. First of all, it is to allow a quick liquidation of the gap that will appear in Polish aviation after the transfer of MiG-29 fighters to Ukraine. Secondly, it was decided to create similar bases in Eastern Europe for the F-22 in Alaska (Elmendorf-Richardson) and Hawaii (Pearl Harbor – Hickam). Because of budget cuts, this is not possible with the use of American pilots and crews, which is why the Poles were proposed.
The choice was not accidental, because Poland was recognized as a country capable of such activities as replacing the Americans and simultaneously carrying out its own tasks. Ask’s F-22 serves the needs of American soldiers stationed in Poland as well as the missile base in Redzikowo. Similar arguments were adopted in the United States when approval was given to transfer to Poland the latest version of the Patriot system with the IBCS system, which no other country had previously obtained. Now the same situation must be repeated in the case of the Raptors.
The Americans decided that the F-22 would give Polish pilots the opportunity to also operate in the zone of destruction of Russian and Belarusian long-range anti-aircraft systems, such as the S-300 and S-400. Due to the low effective surface of reflection (stealth technology), battery radars have great difficulty in detecting birds of prey, and even more so in tracking them and aiming missiles (if that is even possible for the Russians).
In combination with information about the air situation transmitted from AWACS aircraft, this will be a factor allowing to gain at least air superiority over the Russians, and possibly air superiority as well. This will be facilitated by the Raptor’s unprecedented maneuverability for specialized stealth aircraft, a high maximum speed (above Mach 2.4) – higher than, for example, that of the Russian Su-35 fighters, and a range of modern guided weapons – including the latest versions of missiles. “Air” – AIM-120 AMRAAM and AIM-9 Sidewinder.
Armament is located primarily within the aircraft’s armament chambers, and is one of several design solutions that allow a significant reduction of the aircraft’s effective reflection surface. The Americans understand that there is a possibility of losing these aircraft as a result of the fighting, but their choice of area of operations is such that the Russians cannot reach the lost remnants of the Raptors.
It is taken very seriously, because while the Russians wouldn’t be able to copy the solutions used in the F-22 anyway (they don’t have access to that kind of technology), in the case of the Chinese, it’s a completely different matter. Therefore, appropriate security measures are already being considered, long before the aircraft are brought to Poland.
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