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French Expert Slams F-22 Deployment in Europe as Provocation

© REUTERS / Master Sgt. Kevin J. GruenwaldTwo US Air Force F-22 Raptor stealth jet fighters fly near Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. File photo
Two US Air Force F-22 Raptor stealth jet fighters fly near Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. File photo - Sputnik International
The US' decision to deploy its state-of-the-art F-22 Raptor stealth fighters to Europe is nothing more than a provocative move, according to Richard Labeviere, chief editor of the Defense magazine of the French Institute of Higher Studies of National Defense.

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Richard Labeviere, chief editor of the Defense magazine of the French Institute of Higher Studies of National Defense, has described the planned US F-22 deployment in Europe as a NATO provocation, which he said is seeking to bolster its global clout.

"There are several aspects related to this decision, which, briefly speaking, is a provocation on the part of NATO and indicates the growth in the alliance's presence in Europe and other parts of the world", Labeviere said.

According to him, Washington's decision to deploy what he referred to as the "American Rafale" was driven by commercial motives.

"The Americans are looking for a 'showcase', namely, the opportunity to show this sophisticated aircraft in action so as to contribute to its exports to other countries," Labeviere said.

He added that the F-22s took part in military operations in Iraq and Syria several times, and that Washington now seeks to arouse the interest of European customers, including those in Poland.

The second aspect pertains to the geopolitical sphere, Labeviere explained, referring to relevant requests by the Baltic states, including Lithuania, which has repeatedly voiced concern about the alleged threat emanating from Russia.

Also, the F-22s are being deployed in connection with the change in the situation in eastern Ukraine after the Ukrainian army's recent aggression against Donbass forces, according to Labeviere, who specifically pointed to Washington's desire to widen its clout around the globe.

"In addition to the above-mentioned rearrangement of NATO forces in Europe, the US is increasing its presence in the Asia-Pacific [region] and the Arctic," he said.

He recalled that F-22 jets have already been deployed at Thule Air Base in Greenland, in an apparent response to the modernization of a Russian Armed Forces base in the Russian city of Murmansk.

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The F-22 Raptor is a twin-seat, double-engine fifth generation tactical aircraft built by Lockheed Martin. The aircraft is considered a superior fighter jet, capable of ground attack, electronic warfare and signals intelligence. There are nearly 200 F-22 Raptors in service, each carrying a price tag of $150 million.

In late June, US Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced plans to send dozens of tanks, Bradley armored fighting vehicles and self-propelled howitzers to allied countries in the Baltics and Eastern Europe; according to Carter, the goal is to retaliate against alleged actions by Russia in Ukraine's east.

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