Tag Archives: Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor

U.S. F-22 EW-enabled sensor-rich stealth aircraft have escorted Jordanian F-16s during air strikes on ISIS

U.S. F-22s and F-16CJs are being tasked with Jordanian F-16 escort missions in Syria.

Last week the Pentagon provided some details about the American support to the Jordanian air strikes in Syria that followed the burning alive of the pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh captured on Dec. 24 after he ejected from a Royal Jordanian Air Force F-16.

RJAF pilot

Image credit: Jordan Armed Forces

According to Air Force Times, U.S. Central Command CAOC (Combined Air Operations Center) tasked the F-22 Raptors and the F-16CJs, along with an unspecified unmanned aircraft that provided intelligence gathering and surveillance, to escort the Jordanian aircraft launched against Islamic State positions.

F-16CJ

Moreover, the American stealth jets are now embedded in the “standard strike package,” which includes U.S. and coalition aircraft, committed to attack ISIS militants in Syria and Iraq, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren said.

The news put the spotlight on the Raptor again and is a sign the U.S. stealth jets are still directly involved in the anti-IS campaign in Syria and Iraq: little was known about their contribution to Operation Inherent Resolve besides the details which were released following their participation to the opening stages of the war  and focusing on those first missions.

What’s more interesting is to try to guess the role played by the Raptors in the air strikes and the value of their escort, considered that even though the F-22 is the best air superiority fighter in the world, it will hardly find any aerial opponent to shoot down.

Whereas SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses) and EW (Electronic Warfare) platforms, like the F-16CJ/CGs, the EA-6B Prowlers and the EA-18G Growlers, are likely taking care of the residual air defenses surrounding the most dangerous targets, the F-22 Raptors are probably used to provide the so-called “forward target identification”: the Raptor stealth fighters can use their ability to enter, mostly undetected a target aerea, gather details about the enemy systems with their extremely advanced onboard sensors (including an Active Electronically Scanned Array – AESA radar), share the picture and enemy information with other tactical assets, command and control planes and AWACS, then escort other unstealthy planes or drones towards the targets.

Actually, they can also attack their own targets with JDAMs if needed: F-22s can carry two 1,000-lb GBU-32 Joint Direct Attack Munitions or 8 GBU-39 small diameter bombs, 250-lb multipurpose, insensitive, penetrating, blast-fragmentation warhead for stationary targets, along with AIM-120s AMRAAMs (Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles) radar-guided missiles and AIM-9 Sidewinder IR-guided missiles, a configuration that makes the Raptor

However, in modern scenarios as well as in Syria and Iraq, the 5th generation aircraft is more an “electronic warfare enabled sensor-rich aircraft”, than a pure interceptor with swing role capabilities.

 

 

Rare insight into F-22 Raptor vs T-38 Talon aerial combat training at Langley

This is how F-22 fighter pilots train to improve their air-to-air skills.

The venerable T-38 Talon which first flew in 1959 (production ceased in 1972) has found new life as an adversary aircraft used to hone the skills of Raptor pilots. The aircraft, pulled from storage at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and refurbished with current systems (including jamming pods such as the AN/ALQ-188) have been deployed in support squadrons at Holloman AFB, Tyndall AFB and Langley AFB (Joint Base Langley–Eustis).

The T-38s provide an excellent simulation of a number of non-stealthy adversaries that Raptors could come into contact with from countries around the globe. Beyond their value as adversaries, the Talon’s cost per flight hour is reported as $18,000 less than the Raptor and they preserve precious flight hours on the F-22s.

Small, relatively fast, and painted black the Talons are difficult to put eyes on, though primary training would imply detection and “shoot down” BVR (Beyond Visual Range).

The T-38s are typically flown by Raptor pilots who are the most qualified to challenge the Raptor, and exploit any and all perceived air-to-air vulnerabilities. Imagine a widely dispersed flight of T-38s moving fast at 50 ft off the water attempting to penetrate an area under Raptor CAP (Combat Air Patrol). The final result most certainly makes Raptor pilots extremely familiar and confident in their aircraft and its capabilities as they push both sides of an engagement thoroughly.

T-38 Langley

A typical day at Langley features the launching of groups of Raptors (1st Fighter Wing) and Talon adversaries (27th Fighter Squadron) morning and afternoon on two hour sorties for Tactical Intercepts and Offensive/Defensive Counter-Air training.

The training realized in these daily encounters ensure mission ready, mission capable pilots are available for deployment to any number of global hotspots. Perhaps most significantly this training provides an unparalleled level of confidence for Raptor pilots, for it is one thing to believe you are invisible, and another to know you are. It is this kind of confidence that leads to engagements like that of the F-22 Raptors sliding up undetected and unexpected on IRIAF (Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force) F-4 Phantom jets that were attempting to intercept a U.S. MQ-1 drone flying in international airspace off Iran.

Leaving no doubt, Raptors with Talons are more dangerous than Raptors alone.

Special thanks to the PAO of Joint Base Langley–Eustis.

Todd Miller lives in MD, US where he is an Executive at a Sustainable Cement Technology Company in the USA. When not working, Todd is an avid photographer of military aircraft and content contributor.

 

U.S. Air Force deploys F-22 stealth jets to Japan as a deterrence to North Korea and as a show of force to China

American F-22 stealth aircraft have been deployed to Japan for a deterrence and security exercise in the region.

U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor stealth multi-role aircraft from 525th Fighter Squadron at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, deployed to Kadena Air Base, in Japan, to take part in exercise Keen Sword, underway from Nov. 8 through Nov. 19.

The deployment has a dual purpose: let U.S. aircrews fly and train with local Japan Air Self Defense Forces, and show the presence of Washington’s most advanced fighter plane in service in a region where tensions have risen over maritime disputes in the South China Sea.

Held biennially since 1986, Exercise Keen Sword includes anti-submarine warfare, surface warfare, air-to-air and air defense warfare scenarios. This year, the drills involve about 11,000 personnel from U.S. Forces Japan, 5th Air Force, U.S. Naval Forces Japan, U.S. Army Japan, and III Marine Expeditionary Force. Among the Air Force units taking part in the exercise there are also 33rd Rescue Squadron from Kadena and 212th Rescue Squadron from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, that are training with their Japanese colleagues at Komatsu Air Base.

According to the Air Force, F-22s, that have had their combat first against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, have recently been active in training exercises in the region, “serving as a deterrence to North Korea and as a show of force to China.”

Earlier this year Raptors operated out of Osan Air Base, South Korea as part of large-scale exercise Foal Eagle.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

 

GoPro video shows U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds demo team display from the Lead Solo point of view

This is probably one of the coolest Thunderbirds video ever.

Filmed from the cockpit of U.S. Air Force Flight Thunderbirds demo team’s Lead Solo, the following video provides a previously unseen point of view of the team’s most famous maneuvers, including the crossover break, the belly-to-belly Calypso pass and the solo’s maximum performance maneuvers.

The video was filmed with GoPro cameras installed inside the cockpit of pilot Maj. Blaine Jones, who flies the #5 position within the team.

Jones is a former F-22 pilot, who joined the team in 2012 as opposing solo (#6).

H/T to Neil Walker and Tom Demerly for the heads-up

 

Video of China’s Stealthy J-31 aircraft’s (quite smoky) flight display practice at Zhuhai airshow

The Shenyang J-31 “Falcon Eagle” to debut at Zhuhai airshow, China’s biggest commercial and defense air show, near Hong Kong.

The first prototype of Shenyang J-31 Falcon Eagle, China’s second stealth fighter jet, is going to be one of the highlights  of China’s most important commercial and defense airshow held next week at Zhuhai, in the southern province of Guangdong, not far from Hong Kong.

The new aircraft, that performed its maiden flight on Oct 31, 2012, which is smaller than the J-20, from which it differs for the grey paint job and the presence of a colored emblem on the tails (in place of the typical red star) with the text 鹘鹰, Chinese for “Falcon Eagle”, embeds several features of the F-22 Raptor, and the F-35 Lightning II, respectively the current and future most advanced multi-role jets in the U.S. Air Force inventory: along with the distinctive lines of the Lockheed Martin’s stealth designs, the Chinese jet has a nose section which reminds that of the Joint Strike Fighter, same twin tails and trapezoidal wings.

Still, unlike the F-35, it is equipped with two engines (like the F-22, even though without Thrust Vectoring capability, at least, not yet).

The following footage shows the video of the J-31 practicing its demo flight at Zhuhai on Nov. 6. Pretty simple stuff (but let’s not forget it is just a prototype at its first public appearance). Noteworthy, the engines that currently equip the aircraft are a bit smoky: the Chinese jet may evade radars and one day equal F-22 and F-35s but for the moment they can be spotted from far away because of its engines pluming black smoke.

Top image credit: Alert5.com