[Photo] U.S. F-22 Raptors refuel from KC-135 over the Persian Gulf

U.S. F-22 stealth jets deployed in the Gulf take fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker.

In order to keep their radar invisibility, U.S. F-22 Raptor multirole jets operating from Al Dhafra, UAE, fly their Combat Air Patrol missions over the Persian Gulf without their underwing tanks.

Refuel close up

That’s why they may need several plugs into aerial refuelers booms to extend their endurance.

Refuel close up 3

F-22s also fly HVAAE (High Value Asset Air Escort) escorting UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) that operate along the boundaries of the Iranian airspace: during one such missions a Raptor discouraged two Iranian F-4s that were trying to intercept a Raptor drone.

Refuel close up 2

Image credit: U.S. Air Force


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About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


    • sadly? don’t you mean happily it has not been combat proven? Now, this new Russian conflict might change that – watch the Chinese back Russia and start flexing its muscles. The only way this jet can be proven in ‘real’ combat is to take on a 5th GEN, and those are not even in the sky yet.
      f22 is out dated anyway, its going to be retired early in favor of hopped up f35’s and the upcoming fx fighter.

      • While this might be an exercising in feeding a troll, or reasoning with a simpleton, or both:

        – neither the United States nor Russia has enough at stake in the Ukraine to engage in direct conflict, let alone China – China might “flex its muscles” in the Indian Ocean but that’s not a short-term prospect;

        – F22s have scheduled retirement dates from 2025 onwards but those are never reliable;

        – the F35 is still the plane that “can’t turn, can’t climb, can’t run” – and, judging by last month’s GAO report, can’t even get off the ground reliably – not to mention that it is so overweight already that upgrading it is a non-starter;

        – F22s can, by contrast, be upgraded;

        – there’s an F/A-XX program, but it’s naval only; and

        – so far as some predictions based in, well, reality: (i) no prospect of combat between F22s and Russian air force units and some chance of China, but not in the next 5-10 years if ever; (ii) no-one is going to expose F35s to combat and only forces facing no likelihood of combat (Canada) is going to buy them; and (iii) whatever comes next almost certainly won’t have a pilot.

        • I’m no troll, and i know a lot of folks who work in Military aviation so i’m not completely stupid. What i detect in your post is not an argument that the F22 can or cannot take on Russian or Chinese 4th or 5th Gen fighters, but a hate piece against the F35.
          There will be 2000 F35’s and they will be hopped up for air to air combat over the life of the program. Australia and Israel will see to that since they do not have the capability with F15’s and 16’s.
          There is a huge risk of an engagement in the border areas. As soon as that happens and a Su35m toasts an eagle it will be a new game.

          • Wow:

            – no-one knows what F22s would do against Russian/Chinese 5G. Everyone – except you, apparently – knows that any Russian/Chinese 4G would be destroyed.

            – as to F35s and F22s, sorry, but I think you need to defer to this:*

            “If I do not keep that F-22 fleet viable, the F-35 fleet frankly will be
            irrelevant. The F-35 is not built as an air superiority platform. It
            needs the F-22.”

            and that’s even before we go back to the RAND Corporation “can’t …” comments about the F35 and the GAO’s assessment that F35 currently lacks critical warfighting capability. These and other reports have also established that there’s just no upgrade space/scope in the F35. So not so much “hate piece” as, well, data.

            – Israel operates both F15s and F16s. Russia doesn’t operate the Su35M.

            *that’s General Hostage, Commander, USAF Air Combat Command.

            Facts are great things – I’d suggest trying some.

      • I don’t agree with you. At lease up to 10 years later the U.S doesn’t need to use Raptors in any conflict even in a war with Russia. As no other country up to that time is able to use any kind of stealthy planes in a war and till that time F22 will become more and more powerful due to the upgrades on it during the coming year and so it will be the number one stealthy jet during all of its service years.

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