Tag Archives: U.S. Air Force

Hawaiian F-22 Raptors deploying to UAE to join air war on ISIS

Six Hawaii Air National Guard are deploying to the CENTCOM area of responsibility.

Six Hawaii Air National Guard F-22 Raptors are enroute from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, to Al Dhafra, UAE, to join the CENTCOM area of responsibility.

Once there, the aircraft will replace the U.S. Air Force Raptors already there for a 6-month rotational deployment that will see the aircraft take part in Operation Inherent Resolve in the airspaces of Iraq and Syria: although they can attack their own targets using Precision Guided Munitions (two 1,000-lb GBU-32 JDAMs or 8 GBU-39 small diameter bombs) while covering other aircraft in a typical swing role mission, the F-22 have proved to be useful in the air war against ISIS by making other aircraft more survivable, acting as electronic warfare enabled sensor-rich multi-role aircraft that provide “kinetic situational awareness” to other aircraft involved in the air strikes.

Who knows, maybe they will even come close to the Russian Su-30s and Su-34s involved in the raids against IS terrorists across Syria (or they will simply be spied by the Russian Il-20 Coot deployed there).

For the 199th Fighter Squadron this is the first combat tour of duty since the deployed to Saudi Arabia in 2000, to patrol the southern NFZ (No Fly Zone) of Iraq. At that time the squadron flew the F-15 Eagle; it transitioned to the F-22 Raptor in 2010, flying the 5th Generation stealth planes in partnership with the 19th Fighter Squadron.

On their way to the Middle East, the aircraft made a stopover in Moron, Spain, and Sigonella, Italy.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors covered Pope Francis’s Boeing 777 during his US tour.

A photo unveiled the presence of two Raptors close to “Shepherd One.”

During Pope Francis’ visit to the United States, the U.S. government carried out one of the largest domestic protective security operations in its history.

In fact, each U.S. military branch, Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Secret Service (which is usually tasked to protect US president and vice president), and local-state police departments, joined together conducting a huge escort operation  to safeguard the Pope from a wide variety of attack possibilities.

As unveiled by Ian D’Costa in his article “America Deployed its Best Fighter to Cover the Pope’s Tour of the Country,” on Tacairnet.com, it seems that this impressive contingent also included the Lockheed Martin F-22, the U.S. Air Force fifth generation stealth fighter.

Indeed, as reported by D’Costa, shortly after Pope’s American Airlines Boeing 777 departed from New York heading to Philadelphia, a planespotter named Robert Dube, took a picture of an Airbus taking off from John F. Kennedy international airport with a KC-10 Extender refuelling a pair of F-22s in the background (top image).

Considered that Raptors don’t refuel over Manhattan or nearby too often, it is safe to assume that the aircraft were  deployed to counter a potential terrorist attack conducted by using a hijacked airliner.

Anyway the U.S. Air Force would have not allowed to any aircraft to penetrate the bubble erected to protect “Shepherd One” (as the aircraft in which the Pontiff is flying is nicknamed) and its most advanced air superiority fighter has been the best option to deter an intervention from any potential airborne threat.

Needless to say, it was probably not the only type of aircraft the Air Force committed to such task.

The Pope's return flight to Rome could be tracked online on Flightradar24.com

The Pope’s return flight to Rome could be tracked online on Flightradar24.com

Top image credit Robert Dube via Ian D’Costa (Tacairnet.com).


An F-15 down the street: this video shows the odd way a fighter can be moved from its airbase

This is something you don’t see every day.

On Aug. 30, 2015 a now retired F-15C was moved from Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida to its new destination in a very particular way. Transported by truck, the aircraft taxied down the runway, continued to the gate, then down the street and finally the lorry delivered the Eagle to its new home, the Haney Technical Center in Panama City, Florida.

In Tyndall the F-15C was used as a Ground Instructional Training Aircraft (GITA), while at Haney Technical Center’s Aviation it will serve as an advanced tool to train future aircraft mechanics.

In this video you can see not only the F-15C transport, but also how a fighter jet can actually stop the traffic.

Whilst everyone watched the F-22s arriving in Germany, U.S. Predator drones deployed to Latvia

“This is not a one-time operating zone. We created an airspace arrangement that is enduring, so when we need to go back, it will be available.”

Whilst the majority of aviation enthusiasts and media watched four F-22s deploy to Europe for the first time, another quite interesting and significant deployment took place in a Baltic State.

In fact, according to the U.S. Air Force, two MQ-1 Predator drones and approximately 70 Airmen deployed to Lielvarde Air Base, Latvia beginning on Aug. 24 for a temporary deployment that will continue through mid-September.

The deployment aims to test the ability of 147th Reconnaissance Wing of the Texas Air National Guard based in Ellington Field in Houston, Texas to forward deploy, and to conduct air operations with the RPA (Remotely Piloted Aircraft) “while [as usual] assuring NATO allies of our commitment to regional security and stability.”

As for the F-22s, that deployed in accordance with the Rapid Raptor Package concept, the deployment had to prove the unit’s ability to prepare, deploy, setup shop, fly and exercise all of the agreements, arrangements and relationships required to make this happen: key words are responsive and flexible operations.

“It validates basing and airspace arrangements, operations and host-nation agreements in a very real way,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Recker from the operations directorate at U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa Headquarters in a release.

“This will test mobility, maintenance and logisticians arranging airlift,” he said. “Personnel have to make decisions about bandwidth, satellite communication, frequency allocation and frequency clearing.”

Interestingly, “This is not a one-time operating zone. We created an airspace arrangement that is enduring, so when we need to go back, it will be available,” said Recker.

During the deployment, Predators will not be involved in intelligence gathering missions, but will test ability to collect and share intelligence with other NATO allies.

But plans are to do something more, like Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs) training: MQ-1 drones will collect intelligence that will be distributed to NATO JTACs so that they will be able to call in airstrikes of A-10 Thunderbolt II attack planes.

So, the military build-up in Europe continues with F-22s and MQ-1s performing brief deployments to test and validate their ability to reach the Old Continent in timely fashion, and to lay the foundations of longer presence of stealth jets and drones around eastern European nations threatened by Russia.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force


U.S. F-22 Raptor stealth jets currently in Germany to move to Poland on Monday

It looks like the F-22s may move to Poland. Soon.

According to the Polish Media outlet Głos Wielkopolski, the U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor fighters belonging to the 95th Fighter Squadron, from Tyndall Air Force Base, that arrived at Spangdahlem airbase on Aug. 28, will be deployed to Poland next Monday Aug. 31.

The U.S. jets are going to be involved in joint training with the Polish F-16 fighters and information published by Głos Wielkopolski suggests that the Raptors are going to be stationed at the Polish 32 AB in Łask (a news confirmed by the base spokesman according to Scramble).

The arrival of the four F-22s marks the beginning of the inaugural Rapid Raptor package deployment in Europe: the type has often taken part in rotational deployments in the Asia-Pacific region since 2009, to show the presence of Washington’s 5th generation stealth jet around the disputed islands in the South China Sea, while some are also taking parting in the air war against ISIS.

Some analysts speculate the Raptors were not deployed in Europe earlier because of the risk of close encounters with Russian ELINT jets above the Baltics and the resulting disclosure of some sensitive information pertaining the Raptor, a risk the stealth jet face all around the world, actually.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force