USAF F-22 Raptors Begin Training for Combat against China in Australia
China will now have to worry about the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor stealth air superiority fighter, which the U.S. Air Force began deploying to Australia on Feb. 10.
Australian defense minister Marise Payne said the deployment of the F-22 is the largest and longest rotation yet of this fifth-generation fighter to Australia. The first three of up to 12 F-22s arrived in Australia on Feb. 10 and will remain in Australia until early March.
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The F-22s will conduct integrated training with Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) McDonnell Douglas F/A-18A/B Hornet multirole fighters. The arrival of the F-22s is the first Enhanced Air Cooperation (EAC) activity in Australia under the U.S. Force Posture Initiatives.
The F-22 deployment to Australia will ensure the stealth fighter, which costs over $150 million each, will have the infrastructure to support a combat role that might be triggered by a war against China over the South China Sea.
Australia, which is located at the southern end of this disputed body of water, ensures the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) will be unable to expand southwards without being brought to battle by the Australian Defense Force and the U.S. military.
The deployment of the F-22s also means PLAN is bottled-up in the South China Sea and must break-out into the western Pacific by passing north of the Philippines where it can be engaged by carriers of the U.S. Navy.
Entering Air Force service in 2005, the F-22 was designed primarily as an air superiority fighter. On the other hand, it also has ground attack, electronic warfare and signals intelligence capabilities. The U.S. military is the only user of this stealth fighter.
The Air Force considers the F-22 unmatched by any known or projected fighter since the Raptor's combination of stealth, aerodynamic performance and situational awareness gives its pilots unprecedented air combat capabilities.
The Air Force has some 180 operational F-22s.