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