Following a successful deployment of the F-22 to Europe, the head of US Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa will be lobbying for more such visits, but the issue of a permanent detachment or basing there remains unsettled. “You can bet I will be asking for that capability” in the future, said Gen. Frank Gorenc, speaking at the ASC15 Four Star Forum. The F-22s that went in August and September to Estonia, Germany, and Poland, Gorenc said, were highly successful in “assuring our partners” in NATO that the US is taking Russia’s aggression in Ukraine seriously. The deployment, “I think … proved a lot,” Gorenc said, about the Raptor’s ability to seamlessly integrate with allies and use existing infrastructure. He said the decision to make the deployment was made “a long time ago,” but was a timely response to Russia’s belligerent moves. As for a future semi-permanent detachment of F-22s, Gorenc allowed that there are priorities for where the Raptor goes, but “I’m hoping that we every once in awhile” get the nod. He also noted that USAF deployed MQ-1 Predator remotely piloted aircraft to Latvia at about the same time. Putting “an RPA into European airspace … is an enormous accomplishment.”
The F-35 Joint Program Office has officially announced plans to issue multiple sole-source contracts to Pratt & Whitney to upgrade the fighter’s F135 engine—a widely expected move after Pentagon officials indicated they would do so earlier this year instead of developing an entirely new engine.