This video lets you join F-22 pilots preparing for a night air strike on ISIS

Up close and personal with the Raptor pilots fighting Daesh in Iraq and Syria.

Filmed at Al Dhafra airbase in the UAE, this clip shows F-22 pilots with the 90th Fighter Squadron from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, preparing to launch at night for a mission in support of Operation Inherent Resolve against ISIS in the modernized U.S. Air Force Raptor multirole jets.

Each Raptor mission against Daesh usually involves multiple aerial refueling operations since the aircraft, to keep their stealthiness, do not carry external fuel tanks.

The Alaskan Raptors belong to the latest available Block and can drop 8 GBU-39 small diameter bombs; they also embed a radar upgrade that enhanced the capabilities of the aircraft in the realm of the so-called “kinetic situational awareness”: although they drop very few bombs against ground targets, the 5th generation stealth planes exploit their advanced onboard sensors, such as the AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar, to gather details about the enemy targets that they share with other attack planes, such 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. who cares if they are not stealthy, its doesn’t need to be… add the fuel tanks.

  2. Wonder if these pilots still get a rush every time they suit up? Or, has this has all become pretty routine in the modern age.

  3. Same reason Russia is using cruise missiles launched from submarines and bombing sorties originating from the Russian mainland. It’s all about using the equipment you bought and seeing how you can improve it.

  4. The implication is that both sides are playing off the other’s middle. Which is to say, we bomb their faction forces, they bomb ours. If they can’t see us, they can’t dial up their buddies and warn them we are coming and if they think they are going to get funk and wagnel with our (say) Reaper-ER ISR sorties, there is always the ‘ghost wolf in the sheep herd’, just like the Iranians found out when they tried to jump that MQ-1 awhile back with the F-4Ds.
    Of course, I can also just about guarantee you there is a Tall King or Nebo or some (longwave) equivalent system, used to cue the Gravestone of the S-400, which can fuzzy-track Raptors from afar and that the Su-35 are there, principally, to give their Irbis a look-see characterization from whatever hits the Russian GCI systems pass up to them.
    Everyone practices for the next big war in the little skirmishes they play-pretend to fight seriously.
    The F-22 also has a couple of edges inherent to it’s long dwell time at extreme altitude. The F119 is still pretty much a drunk in a distillery when it comes to TSFC but if you dial it way back and just /hang there/, barely above the stall, at 50-60K, you can probably wait 2-3hrs, utterly noiseless from the ground. And then _dash in_ when the drones get confirmation on an activity alert and sort (say) several convoys down to the correct cell or radio traffic for a bad guy.
    GBU-32 away and have a nice day.
    This allows us to keep presence without having to go out for an all out DEAD campaign which will take weeks and make enemies our beloved countrymen have decided aren’t worth having to slaughter ISIS in a few days of concentrated effort.

    • “we bomb their faction forces”. NO. US never engaged the Syrian government forces, but rather the Islamic States (IS), which is not allied with Russians, rather they are enemies as well.

      “this allows us to keep presence without having to go out for an all out DEAD campaign which will take weeks”. NO. IS has no air defence, hence no neeed of anything. By the way any other legacy fighter jet down to the A-10 and even slow-as-anything drones are flying over Syrian air space, so there is no threat since the Syrian Air Defense does not engage (a single MQ-1 flying in the wrong zone was shot down by a Syrian Air Defense S-125, SA-3 Goa missiles months before)

      These say you are highly misinformed about the current war in Syria. So you have no point.

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