Photographer captures six F-22 Raptor fighter jets trailing three tankers over the Mediterranean Sea

Jan 25 2013 - 6 Comments

Stealth planes might be invisible to radars but they can do nothing against human eye.

This is what the following images prove.

Taken by Gian Luca Onnis, a (lucky) photographer and aviation enthusiast, on Jan. 25, the photographs 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.

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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.

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Image credit: Gian Luca Onnis

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  • 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.

    • Carlos Ruiz de Quevedo

      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.

  • Carlos Ruiz de Quevedo

    @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 !?

  • Mmm Bee

    Keep your friends close, and your cranker closer