Jaw-dropping NVG video of F-22 Raptors refueling at night during air strikes on Daesh

Here’s how the F-22s that take part in the air war on ISIS look at night through the Night Vision Goggles.

The clip in this post shows airmen assigned to the 908th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron prepare their aircraft and refuel U.S. F-22 Raptors using a KC-10 Extender tanker during an aerial refueling mission in support of Operation Inherent Resolve on Jul. 13, 2016.

The above image was posted by the  helicopter serving the South West of England.

Although we have recently posted an image taken from the thermal camera used by the EC-135 of the British National Police Air Service, based at Filton Aerodrome, of one of the U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor jets that deployed to RAF Fairford to take part in the Royal International Air Tattoo airshow, you don’t happen to see this kind of footage too often.

You can even spot the vapors of the fuel coming out of the dorsal refueling receptacle used by the Raptor multirole jet after the AAR (Air to Air Refueling) operation.

The F-22 refueled in the video are the most up-to-date Raptors in service with the U.S. Air Force. Assigned to the 90th Fighter Squadron from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, the modernized Raptors brought extended capabilities in the fight against Daesh since their arrival in theater back in April: the Alaskan Raptors can now drop 8 GBU-39 small diameter bombs while previously they were limited to carry two 1,000-lb GBU-32 JDAMs (Joint Direct Attack Munitions) in the internal weapon bay.

Furthermore, among the other things, the aircraft were also given a radar upgrade that enhanced the capabilities of the aircraft in the realm of the so-called “kinetic situational awareness”: whilst they are rarely requested to attack ground targets, the Raptors use advanced onboard sensors, such as the AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar, to gather valuable details about the enemy targets, then share the “picture” with attack planes as the F-15E Strike Eagles.

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. Why are they using an air superiority fighter to fight against Daesh? Did they get an airforce somewhere? Using a $200,000,000 aircraft to drop 1000 lbs of ordnance seems wasteful. P-51 could carry twice that amount 60 years ago.

    • Training, and testing capabilities in real world conditions, so when the real fighting starts you know your capabilities, and you have experience.

    • Practice, co-force practice, tactics/capability vetting for the sensor suite. Radar resolution of targets in the millimeters. Sucking up electrons from neighboring Russian ADS in Syria.

    • first, cause they want to test them in a combat environment that they think they have a good idea of the enemies radar and air defense capabilities. It’s also testing refueling and allied joint support missions. As they go through evaluations and software upgrades they also go through weapon systems..jdam..sm diameter bomb..mavericks..etc. so it’s testing and evaluations to get closer to the abilities of potential 1st level capabilities. Granted an old P-51 could have delivered the same or more weapons but, enemy forces would have know we were there. It’s entirely possible that the raptors were never seen or heard we the atracks occured. similar to the stealth bomber attacks.

      • “enemy forces would have know we were there”

        …current enemy forces would know exactly the same about the location of a P-51 and a F-22.

        Their best sensor suite is the mk1 eyeball tracking system.
        A sensor model developed by God’s Industries several millions years ago, religious people say.

    • Because F-15Es didn’t have AESA radar when USAF acquired them. USAF F-15E came with AN/APG-70 a pulse Doppler radar. An upgrade is being installed on some USAF F-15E, it includes the AN/APG-82. The 82 is an AESA radar and is a development of the APG-79 from the F-18E/F.

    • Some do, some don’t, some planned, rolling upgrades. Also probably safer for the F-15s if the stealthy F-22 sits on high and take radar snapshots of all of the target areas, and relay them to medium or lower altitude F-15Es who fly the fight totally passive / not emitting.

    • some F15C’s are equipped with the AESA radars, Florida Air National Guard jets were the first to receive the mods..and I do believe Kadena birds as well

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