F-22 Raptor stealth fighter sports low-visibility bomb markings

May 16 2016 - 13 Comments

For the first time bomb markings appear on the F-22s that took part in the air campaign against Daesh.

Everything is stealth in the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor, even the bomb signs….

This is what the top image, taken by The Aviationist’s contributor Alessandro Fucito at RAF Lakenheath at the beginning of May, seems to suggest. Indeed, the photograph shows one of the 12x F-22s belonging to the 95th FS from Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, deployed to the UK until May 8,  with 15 barely visible bomb markings (and another square sign – even though the latter may be some sort of patch on the Radar Absorbing Material coating).

F-22 bomb marks

The bomb silhouettes (on the airframe serialled AF05-086) represent GBU-32 1,000-lb JDAMs (Joint Direct Attack Munitions), one of the two types of bombs the 5th generation aircraft is able to carry: indeed, for air-to-surface missions, the multirole stealth jet can carry either 2x GBU-32s or 8x GBU-39 small diameter bombs in the internal weapons bay.

Bomb and kill markings are very well-known tradition in military aviation. In Syria, Russian Su-34s  sported red star silhouettes to mark 10 air strikes, whilst EA-18G Growlers of VAQ-137 aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt got unique kill markings, showing Electronic Attack support as well as cellular jamming missions.

The Tyndall’s Raptor depicted in the photo has most probably been given the traditional bomb markings after taking part in the air war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria during a rotation last year.

The F-22s have had their baptism of fire during Operation Inherent Resolve in September 2014.

Since the beginning of the air campaign, the F-22 have accounted for only 2% of the sorties and 2% of the overall weapons released (that is why it is safe to assume every silhouette represents one JDAM): their role is indeed to use the advanced onboard sensors, as the AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar, to gather valuable details about the enemy targets and then  share the “picture” with attack planes, command and control assets, as well as Airborne Early Warning aircraft.

This mission has been given a fancy name: “kinetic situational awareness.”

Although its production was cancelled in 2009 with the production line closed in 2012, after 187 F-22s had been procured, the House Armed Services Committee has asked the Air Force to produce a study on what it would take to restart building the Raptor in order to keep up with the enemies until the next generation fighter arrives, something heavily debated recently, and opposed by the Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter.

Image credit: The Aviationist / Alessandro Fucito

  • Jack Bunce

    Two questions – why do the bombs appear to be grouped by sixes followed by a space? Thought it used to be fives. Notice the first group starts with a square rather than a bomb; perhaps a recon or BDA sortie?

    • M B

      Maybe because they read each other six-by-six, as a stealth kisch ? Or perhaps so that Ash Carter fails to understand it ?

      • Jack Bunce

        Funny!

  • AstroNautilus

    @Marco: another childish thing painted on a plane?

    • Marco

      Well, since you called me, if you want to look at it in a rational way, I will say it is quite sick tradition, on the loose tracks of some sick obsessed collector mindset. On the other hand a small bomb siluette is definitively less childish than painting a naked female riding a missile (an example) calling it “iron lady” or a grinning skull calling it “angel of death”…

      Painting of military hardware ain’t cool nor professional…

      • Cody3/75

        Who made you an authority on what’s “cool” or professional? Hundreds of years of military tradition, regardless of who it is, say’s you’re an utter dunce. Seriously, don’t procreate oxygen thief.

        • Marco

          Butthurt? I can see someone who spent his mlitary career at painting an F-16 calling it “Iron Pussy”…
          Do you find professional or cool, an F-16 called “Iron Pussy”, sporting a naked female branding a sword?

          When war time comes, this BS fades off. In military oriented regimes this BS is strongly limited if there is anything around. SOF operators don’t even show the national flag. Make some questions to yourself… looser

          • Cody3/75

            You fucking tool. Do you know see my user handle. Love how how you talk about “SOF” without recognizing that. Don’t talk to me about what the military does or professionalism. You wouldn’t know professionalism if it sodomized your mother. Don’t talk about what members of JSOC and SOCOM do…you have no fucking clue poser. We ALL wore/wear national insignia and typically blood type. It’s unit affiliation, rank, name, etc, that gets thrown out when you go sterile.

      • I don’t view it that way at all. I think of France and Belgium – those bombs marked on the fuselage were dropped on some seriously terrible people. I picture some of those bombs having Je Suis Charlie written on them…if we are having success against these most miserable of enemies we need to champion them, because this is a tenacious and terrible enemy – we cannot give them any opportunities to loard over us and terrorize us with their ideologies or actions. The psychology of this is we need to stay positive and not let this scum bring us down – if I were a F-22 pilot and I know I just took out 20 terrorists in the safehouse I’ve just flattened, you’d better believe I would proudly demarcate my very impressive steed with the accomplishment.

    • Jack Bunce

      We do send the children to war, don’t we. But, I disagree with your characterization of the conduct as childish. To me its just human nature. A way of counting coup, keeping track, and perhaps keeping the gods of war amused so they will let you survive. Atavistic for sure. But it helps in finding your way through….

  • Phil Verhey

    Well i tried & failed… to I.D. the square… what it is NOT is a patch in the RAM, what it could be is a test mark, a combat operation/deployment mark, an alignment key, or most likely an Electronic kill mark (the square being the AESA array in keeping with displaying the weapon actually used) … i looked at countless photos of AF05-086, searched through it’s deployment list, looked at other combat F-22’s, Tyndall F-15’s, even some EA-18’s credited with EW kills … no luck …

    I strongly suspect an electronic kill

  • su34

    Yank’s obsession with “stealth” (too many fiction movies, or
    “invisibility cloak” bed-time stories?) will bring them a tough wake-up,
    after gambling their chances on a single unverified trump-card, when it
    doesn’t work as expected encountering their first serious opponent in
    decades. But it’s all about MIIC profits, and milking the ignorant tax
    payer dry.
    “low-visibility” bomb markings are the “latest” in yank stupidity… probably the used paint is also horrendously overpriced.

    • James W McCarthy

      You’re aware that the UK, Italy, Japan, Australia, Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Israel and probably Singapore and Canada are all partners I’m the F-35 stealth strike aircraft ?
      Not to mention China, Russia/India are all working on their own stealth fighters ? If stealth is dead, half the world is in denial