U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors covered Pope Francis’s Boeing 777 during his US tour.

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.

The Pope's return flight to Rome could be tracked online on Flightradar24.com
The Pope’s return flight to Rome could be tracked online on Flightradar24.com

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



  1. I don’t understand what people cannot understand from the article?

    The pope was on a 777, it was protected by raptors….

    Then later a man took a photo of an Airbus, in that photos background he inadvertently or by luck caught the raptors (two of them) refuelling from a kc-10 extender.

    Simple? Surely?!

    • Tommy B Cool. You are correct. If you look very sharply, you can just see the boom from the tanker to the lower of the two Raptors.

    • I think it has to do with journalistic integrity. Errors in photos, even if intentional, imply lack of attention to detail in the article.

      • It has to do with lack of attention of people who don’t read the article but just read the title.

  2. The US police state is out of control. It’s just silly to put so much effort into the head of a corporate state. The catholic church is not even a real nation with citizens and a breeding population. It’s a front for banks and a haven for child molesters.

  3. Yahoo should get somebody on their staff that knows aircraft. The plane in the small photo is a THREE ENGINED aircraft. If you look at the tail of the plane you can just make out the third engine.

    • A military MD-10. The KC-10A is powered by three General Electric CF6-50C2 high bypass-ratio turbofan engines, each generating 52,500 pounds (23,814 kg) of takeoff thrust.

Comments are closed.