Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James has raised the possibility of deploying F-22 Raptors to Europe to deter Russia, which she called, "the biggest threat on my mind," according to media reports.
The F-22, which flew its first combat mission in September over Syria, now it is part of every strike package that goes into Syria as part of the war against the Islamic State terrorist group.
James told reporters at the International Paris Air Show on Monday that the F-22 may be part of future theater security packages to Europe, which typically last about six months, Military.com reported.
"I could easily see the day — though I couldn't tell you the day exactly — when the F-22, for example, rotates in is a possibility," Military.com quoted James as saying. "I don't see why that couldn't happen in the future."
A spokesman for U.S. Air Forces in Europe confirmed that James' comments were accurately reported in the Miltary.com story. There was no transcript of her remarks.
"In a complex global environment, as a service, it is important to always consider a range of options and remain ready to meet any possible combatant commander requirements," said Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Karns.
F-22s are stationed at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia; Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida; Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii; and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. They deploy to Kadena Air Base, Japan, from time to time and F-22s are forward deployed to southwest Asia in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
In February 2014, Russia annexed the Crimea region of Ukraine after a revolution toppled Ukraine's former pro-Moscow president. Shortly thereafter, Russia backed separatists in Eastern Ukraine. Although the Russian government has denied assisting the separatists, numerous media outlets have reported that Russian troops have crossed the border into Ukraine.
James told reporters said she is worried about Russia's secret war in Ukraine, which has been described as "hybrid warfare."
"The biggest threat on my mind is what is happening in Russia," The Wall Street Journal quoted James as saying. "That is a big part of why I am here."
Earlier this month, the U.S. sent B-2 and B-52 bombers to Europe as part of military exercises.