Stealth planes might be invisible to radars but they can do nothing against human eye, especially when they are contrailing.
Taken by Gian Luca Onnis, a (lucky) photographer and aviation enthusiast, on Jan. 25, 2013, the photographs in this post show a flight of six F-22 Raptors trailing two KC-135 and a KC-10 tankers overflying Sardinia island, Italy, on their way back to the U.S.
The radar evading planes, returning to Holloman, New Mexico, from a deployment in South East Asia, were clearly visible because of the long white contrails they left over the Mediterranean Sea.
The six F-22 Raptors had deployed to Al Dhafra in the UAE via Moron, Spain, on Apr. 20, 2012.
Whereas the six stealthy planes of the 49th Fighter Wing returned to the CONUS (Continental U.S.) six F-22 belonging to the 3rd Fighter Wing, were flying in the opposite direction (via Lajes, Azores) to replace them in the Persian Gulf area.
Noteworthy, unlike the Holloman’s F-22As the 3rd FW’s Raptors from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, in Alaska, are Block 3.1 planes capable to find and engage ground targets using the Synthetic Aperture Radar mapping and drop up to eight GBU-39 SDBs (Small Diameter Bombs) in the air-to-surface role.
Keep your friends close,but your tanker closer.
Seems careless for the F-22 Raptors to be flying at an altitude where they could be spotted by their contrails. Unless they wanted to be seen as a “showing the flag” gesture.
They are only seen when they want to be seen. They were flying at about 25K ft and that is why they left a trail. When they fly higher, they don’t have a trail or radar signature.
@Kevin, they are only seen & heard when they want to be seen and heard. When seen or heard it is to convey a message to enemies and allies. Otherwise they can fly without trails or radar signatures.
Awesome catch, congratulations for to the photographer. As for stealth and contrails … who the hell cares about contrails when flying over Italy ? And who the hell cares about the radar cross section when flying with external fuel tanks + next to a KC-135 on a transit flight !?
Keep your friends close, and your cranker closer