Six F-22 Raptor aircraft belonging to the 3rd Wing from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson have arrived at Lajes field, in the Azores on Sept. 27.
The aircraft were deploying to an undisclosed location in the Middle East: considered the almost permanent presence of the stealth fighter jets at Al Dhafra, it is quite likely the Raptors photographed by André Inácio were on their way to the large U.S. base in the United Arab Emirates.
Few days ago, Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh said that an F-22 Raptor flying an HVAAE (High Value Air Asset Escort) over the Persian Gulf flew under two Iranian F-4 to check out their weapons load without them knowing that he was there, and then pulled up on their left wing, called them and said ‘you really ought to go home’ because they were pursuing an MQ-1 Predator.
The 3rd Wing has recently developed a new concept to deploy four F-22s and make them ready for combat from a remote location in 24 hours. Raptors from JBER in Alaska are among the F-22s with the most recent “Block 3.1″ hardware and software upgrade, that provides the ability to find and engage ground targets and drop GBU-39 small diameter bombs.
Image credit: André Inácio
The U.S. Air Force’s 3rd Wing at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, has conceived a new rapid deployment concept that allows to deploy a package of F-22s and supporting logistics to any forward operating base and have the stealth fighter jet ready for combat operations within 24 hours of deploying with a small logistics footprint.
According to Air Force Magazine, the 3rd Wing has tested this new rapid deployment package during several exercises and, although it is scalable, it is built around four F-22 airframes and a single C-17 Globemaster cargo whose role is to carry materials, munitions and maintainers in theater.
In a recent interview with Daily Report, Pacific Air Forces Commander Gen. Hawk Carlisle said that the Rapid Raptor Package denies the enemy the ability to locate the F-22s for an extended period by preventing adversaries from knowing from which airbases the only U.S. 5th generation fighter plane launch.
The agility of the new deployment package denies a potential adversary the ability to locate the F-22s for an extended period and make the precious assets less targetable.
It must be noticed that, even if such kind of deployment could be completed fairly easily, quickly and possibly in a stealthy manner, it involves just two pairs of Raptors, a ridiculous amount even for a small scale operation.
Few days ago, U.S. F-22 stealth fighter pilot taunted Iranian F-4 Phantom combat planes over the Persian Gulf.
The following video is extremely funny.
Basically, it is an animated cartoon that features several very well known aircraft (including the B-2, the KC-10, the A-10 and many more ones) in a what can be considered the Chinese version of Planes, the upcoming spin-off of Pixar’s Cars animated movie.
Even if you can’t understand much of it (unless you speak Mandarin), you may get the general sense of the scenes and see how the story ends: with the downing of the two F-22 Raptor fighter jets escorting the B-52 Stratofortress bomber by a Chengdu J-10.
Obviously, the aircraft don’t wear any distinguishing markings or national roundings; however, not only the aircraft type, but even the American Eagle sported by the two Raptors leave no room for mistakes.
Anyway, relax, it is just a funny cartoon.
Even if we have often reported the presence of the F-22 Raptors at Al Dhafra, satellite imagery showing five radar evading planes parked at the main airbase in the UAE has been made publicly available for the first time recently.
The aircraft, parked next to an F-15E Strike Eagle, are five of the six F-22 that had (more or less secretely) deployed in South East Asia from Holloman New Mexico, via Moron, Spain, on Apr. 20, 2012.
The image is not only interesting because it shows the main U.S. Air Force plane about 100 miles from Iran, but also because it is the first one to show fast jets on one of most important U.S. airbases in the region.
Using the time option on Google Earth, you may even observe how the airbase has grown since 2004: the large apron in front of the light hangars where the F-22 were parked in April 2012, did not exist in the satellite image taken 9 years ago.
Image credit: Google Earth
Moreover, if you watch the imagery of the subsequent years you will notice that only support planes (E-3s, KC-135s etc) could be seen stationed at Al Dhafra: the presence of the F-22s beginning in 2012, is a clear sign of how the situation in the region has gradually changed with an increasing tension with Iran.
The following video, shows F-22 Raptor stealth fighters flown by the Hawaii Air National Guard’s 199th Fighter Squadron and the active duty Air Force’s 19th Fighter Squadron takinv off during an early morning 14-ship sortie rotation.
Note at the 00:30 mark the surfer carrying his surfboard and walking next to the airport’s fence as one of the radar-evading planes taxies: a scene that can be seen only at the Hawaii….
As the units were being readied to declare FOC (Full Operational Capability), on Apr. 7, the squadrons launched and recovered a record number of sorties which is the most executed by these squadrons on a single day since the conversion to the F-22s.