[Photo] F-22 Raptor stealth jet pilot flies air strike in Syria with U.S. flag in the cockpit

Close up image unveils an interesting detail inside the cockpit of an F-22 Raptor.

The photo in this post shows an F-22 Raptor of the 1st Fighter Wing, taking fuel after a mission over Syria, where the stealth fighter jet had its baptism of fire operating along other U.S. assets including the F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft.

The image, taken from a KC-135 tanker (based at Al Udeid, Qatar), shows an interesting detail inside the cockpit of the F-22, based at Al Dhafra, UAE, where the Strike Eagles are deployed as well: a U.S. flag.

It’s not infrequent for U.S. pilots to carry the American flag inside the cockpit during real ops and wars.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force via Guido Olimpio


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.


  1. Honestly, sometimes you have to wonder whether Americans hold their country as their god…

    Do they do this as well in other countries? I can’t imagine people from my country doing that. It would just be clumbsy.

    • He is carrying it in the cockpit as a memento to give away or keep. It is very common that these mission flags are then mounted in a display case with a certificate and map that outlines the mission. This one would probably say, “This flag was flown over Syria on the first day of bombing in an F-22 with 1st Fighter Wing” or something to that effect.

      He isn’t taking it along so he can worship it on the way to and from Syria, its a souvenir that will be kept or given to someone important. It happens all the time.

    • Perhaps the people of your nation, wherever that may be, don’t feel the pride in their country as we do in the United States of America.

      • Bill I think it’s that most people have a more mature nationalism than we Americans do. Not because their cultures are any better, or that they are more educated than we are. Only that they interact with the rest of the world more and as such receive more feedback for their actions or inactions than we in the States do. Currently we are so dysfunctional we cannot even have a debate among ourselves as to why ISIS exists at all. We forget who overthrew the house of Hussain in Iraq and replaced it a short sighted sectarian alter boy to Iran who never had any intentions of including the Suni in Iraqi society except under a Shite boot. Or that the militia who make up ISIS were almost all part of the “Suni Awakening” or that the current ISIS leadership self organized in American prisons filled with a vast majority of innocent people who were not rebels against us before they were imprisoned but were after we imprisoned them they were what we’d call radicals. You see Bill these things are obvious to the rest of the world, and they wonder why we thump our chests STILL after the past 11 years and think we’re fixing anything.

    • The problem is that american govt always calls ultranationalist to the other countries that do the same!. the US foreign diplomacy is frequently using the words: nationalism, radicalism, fanatism, what about this pilot? is not the same?. What make an Ukranian for example in Maidan square, a freedom fighter, and the ones in the east a terrorist or separatist?, and why the same guys in Syria are the good ones and the Syrian govt the evil? .. the answer is … double standars!

      • It’s not a double standard. Yes the Americans are very patriotic for the most part. But we aren’t aggressively nationalistic like other countries. Take Russia for example. You have entire generations that grew up worshipping the state as a God. Even after communism fell modern day Russia still has thing like “Nashi” (aka Hitler Youth). Putin still sells his people the exact same sort of Nationalism that the Communists did, and all of the older folks fall back into that regimen while things like Nashi get the younger generations in line.

        Yes Americans are patriotic, but we don’t hold a candle to the dangerous nationalism displayed by people like Russia. When I left uniformed service I made up exactly 0.47% of Americans that had served in one form or the other, of the US Armed Forces. So yeah, Americans might be vocal, but the vast majority aren’t capable of putting anything other than their mouth on the line.

    • Who are you referring to? If you are referring the ISIS then you have a special type of stupid in you.

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