The most up-to-date F-22 Raptor jets are currently fighting Daesh

Jul 05 2016 - 41 Comments

The Raptors of the latest Block can drop GBU-39 small diameter bombs on ISIS targets.

The Raptors deployed to Al Dhafra airbase, UAE, are the most up-to-date F-22As flown by the U.S. Air Force.

Assigned to the 90th Fighter Squadron from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, the modernized Raptors made their debut in Operation Inherent Resolve, the air war on the Islamic State, in April, bringing expanded capabilities in the fight against Daesh.

“What our squadron is bringing to the fight now versus some of the previous squadrons, is we have the most up to date software and hardware loads that an F-22 can carry,” said Lt. Col. David, 90th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron commander in a recent Air Force release. “There is a huge advancement in the capabilities of the avionics, the radar system, the sensors and certain electronic features on board the aircraft.”

Although they are rarely requested to attack ground targets, 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: with the latest upgrade they can be tasked for missions which require greater precision.

An initial air-to-surface capability, including that of dropping the GBU-39 (a 250-lb multipurpose, insensitive, penetrating, blast-fragmentation warhead for stationary targets equipped with deployable wings for extended standoff range, whose integration testing started in 2007) had been introduced with the software increment 3.1 back in 2012.

Even though the odds of using an advanced air-to-air missiles over Syria are pretty low, another important addition to the F-22’s payload is the latest generation AIM-9X (already integrated in most of US combat planes since 2003): on Mar. 1, 2016 the 90th Fighter Squadron (FS) officially became the first combat-operational Raptor unit to equip an F-22 with the AIM-9X Sidewinder.

Noteworthy, the AIM-9X will not be coupled to a Helmet Mounted Display (HMD) as the F-22 is not equipped with such kind of helmet that provides the essential flight and weapon aiming information through line of sight imagery (the project to implement it was axed following 2013 budget cuts) but the Raptor will probably benefit of the AIM-9X Block II, that is expected to feature a Lock-on After Launch capability with a datalink, for Helmetless High Off-Boresight (HHOBS): the air-to-air missile will be launched first and then directed to its target afterwards even though it is behind the launching aircraft.

Interestingly, along with the ability to carry “new” weapons, the aircraft were also given a radar upgrade that enhanced the F-22 capabilities in the realm of air interdiction and the so-called “kinetic situational awareness”: as we have often explained in previous articles, the role that the Raptor plays in the campaign is to 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.


  • sferrin

    In this role, think of it as an RC-135 that can fight back.

    • AstroNautilus

      Stop barking, here and on aviation week comment section, please. You’re spoiling everything

      • citanon

        Yea, we don’t want that truth and logic stuff here.

      • sferrin

        You sound like a twelve year old who had their illusions shattered.

  • Dan Roy

    $361 million per aircraft to deliver eight 250 lb bombs?

    • Cody3/75

      Your price point is wrong. Additionally, they do much more than drop SDBs (which is a marvel in it’s own right).

    • Eric M Krehemker

      Consider that the F 22 was designed to be an air to air combat platform, they are using it in a way that it can be adapted to by successful in air to ground operations.

    • Eek Eek Ooogada Boogeda

      Yep. Crazy.

  • crygdyllyn

    WTF??!! A $200M plane to attack ISIS, when a WW2 P-47 could do the job as well? This is like driving tacks with a solid gold jack hammer. We should be retaining A-10s and upgrading their avionics and weapons capability. Our military just loves to to spend money. The F-22 was designed to counter Russia and China, not a bunch of guys with AK-47’s.

    • Cody3/75

      You have literally no clue what you’re talking about…

    • Warpo

      Totally! The “bright” side is that they are at least using them and not just parked doing zilch.

    • Volcomhcky69

      And how do you surmise the F-22 gets real-world operational/combat experience, start a war with Russia and China?

      This isn’t that hard to figure out: we own the F-22. It’s an integral part of maintaining air superiority. We’re also fighting an air-war against ISIS. Why not use the F-22 for some strikes, and take the pressure off the F/A-18s, and the F-16s while, at the same time, gain them incredibly valuable combat experience?

      Further, the F-22 isn’t just a fighter jet. It’s an networked battlefield sensor platform. That helps other, less sophisticated aircraft target areas on the ground networked-in from JTACs on the ground, or without them needing to utilize their own targeting systems. It’s also in-theater as a reminder to Russia that their entire air-contingent in Syria will be obliterated if they make a wrong move.

      Look, it’s clear you don’t understand much about the military, strategy, or the equipment it utilizes. And that’s fine, but forming staunch opinions on matters you don’t understand is rarely a good idea…

    • Jan Schmidt

      They have to show off the plane as combat capable or they will not get funded. Same with F-35, and other weapons systems.

      • sferrin

        F-22 production has been over for years.

    • citanon

      How is an A-10 going to find a Daesh leader’s house, his friends and associates and drop a bomb right in the room in which they are meeting mid conversation, while intimidating the Russians and the Syrians at ye same time?

      • CharleyA

        The same way the F-22 does – using external ISR resources.

        • citanon

          That’s the crucial difference you are not getting. The F22 IS a very significant ISR resource in the radio spectrum.

    • Brent Leatherman

      Pretty much exactly what I though reading the article – although I was thinking the Vietnam era Spad. Sheesh.

    • The Norseman

      Agree. It makes me wonder if they are there to send a message to Russia since Russia is bombing ISIL and anti-Assad rebels. The USA doesn’t want Russia bombing the anti-Assad rebels, but just ISIL. It tells Russia that the USA has air dominance in the area. It can also enter Syrian air-space without detection.

    • Bill Gallagher

      Ummmm… who else is hanging out in that neighborhood? Russian planes, with that insecure nut job of a Russian leader itching to prove his power against us.

  • Cody3/75

    Three comments (plus mine), and two of them are from whiny idiots who have absolutely no clue what they just read.

  • Byron Harris

    The F-22A Raptor…now with sharper claws.

  • John MacKechnie

    I really like the F22 and believe it should be upgraded in all aspects. Starting with the engines.
    For instance: Look at the size specifications between the F22 and F35 engines. Nearly the same. By swapping out the engines you will improve overall performance. The planes structure will most likely need to be reinforced. Hopefully the RADAR absorbing will stay stuck to the plane.
    Then by adding new electronic/avionics capabilities which are in the F35. This would improve over all surgical strike capabilities as well as air to air fighting.
    This is of course if the USA does build a newer generation of F22.

    • Slay-the-Fascist

      LOL.. John MacKechnie, do you only comment to the National Interest? BTW the National Interest deleted my comments and banned me from posting comments after I called their article BS propaganda and I used the term BS I did not use any profane words. So much for that “Free Speech” bull crap. So I had to find this comment to reply back to you, but yes you are right, it is more Oligarchical with fascist overtones. Just FYI I post comments all the time in Russia media, Sputnik, RT, TASS, Russian Insider, etc, etc, blasting Putin, blasting Russia, blasting the Russian Duma and I have NEVER had my comments deleted much less been banned from commenting. Shame.. Shame.. Shame… Shame. Be careful John Mackechnie, the American Dark Age is coming.

  • thehotfinger

    Think it might be time for some large-diameter bombs?

  • Rogerjb

    Only Obama loyalists call it “ISIL.” Everyone else calls it by its true name, ISIS.

    • disqus_STXkrV9NGc

      This comment… I hope you’re trolling, or else you’d be too ignorant to use this website.

  • rats123

    $300,000,000 plane to drop a $1000,000 bomb on a $10 tent. Just reward for the US tax payer

  • Andy

    Clearly you have no idea how money works. This ‘money’ is spent on American jobs, and the operational hours only improve our capabilities. Send in more, put Americans back to work doing real work and keeping our citizens safe at home.

  • Eek Eek Ooogada Boogeda

    Great. Using billion-dollar planes to attack Stone Age warriors.

  • Scoollink

    As insulting as this article is I appreciate at least knowing our most advanced fighter is in the air flying in “hostile territory.” It’s amazes me how little these writers think of us readers. Did the author consider for even a brief moment of intellectual curiosity that the Air Force is flying the F-22 in that, shall we say fighter bomber crowded sky to test out the plane vs oh I don’t know Russian Air Force planes? Nooooooooo”…… Of course not.

  • Joey Joe-Joe Junior Shabadoo

    so, no new news about the Raptor then?

  • Roland Lawrence

    If all the F22 is doing is providing information with its advanced radar, surely it makes sense to update the F15s radar and save yourself the expense of the F22 all together.

    • citanon

      The f15 does have an updated radar.

      What it doesn’t have is the ability to listen to anything and everything electronic, geolocate and classify it by fusing the data in real time with other sensors aboard, and then pass it on to other platforms in the network, all while remaining undetected.

      That capability is used to monitor the Syrians and the Russians as well as IS.

    • sferrin

      The F-22 is already bought and paid for. Sorry.

  • CharleyA

    Yea, why waste precious F-22 flight hours on missions that can be accomplished by other more economical aircraft? Yup, the USAF strikes again.

  • Martin Bauer

    Let us not forget that one of designers of F-16 and some other US military experts confirm the fact which most of blinded readers try to avoid the truth as devil cross, which is that there is no such thing as “stealth” or “invisibility” as every long wave radar such as British during WW2. One of such prime long range radar is used in UK for monitoring civilian aircrafts traffic over Atlantic. In mid of 1990′ when USA produced F117 first stealth night bomber it was proclaimed to be absolutely invisible to the radar especially Russians as according to USA Intelligence Russia only pretended to have radars but in reality they have had soldiers with powerful binoculars watching the sky instead. Then it happened USA announced that F-117 will come to visit UK and that aircraft was scheduled to visit Farnborough International Airshow. That was so hash-hash that US AF said that it will have only fly by and then land in American military base. It was so secretive that well over hundred thousand people gathered to see it and actually it was flying so high that nothing was visible wit “Russian radar binoculars” until it was very next day published in UK media that Heathrow control tower monitoring Atlantic traffic with primary long range radar was following and guiding F-117 to Farnborough Airshow. USA Embassy pressed on UK government to suppress media not to disclose that information. Later on during the NATO illegal and criminal war against Yugoslavia, Serbian air defence shot down two F-117 and after that USAF did not any more fly over Serbia with F-117.

    USA are seriously pathetic in their blind belief that they are masters of Universe and that they can do whatever they imagine. Well they imagined lot with so many latest “state of the Art technology” but delivered next to nothing. They spent nearly 2 trillion US$ to discover, design and develop new 4th generation jet fighters F-22 and F-35 and everyone else (Russia, China, Japan) have already developed 5th generation of jet fighters. Even poor and backwater India will with Russian help develop 5th generation fighter jets.

    No one in America realised that Russia developed new 5th gen. aircraft for around 5 billion US$ which is only about 400x less than USA 5th gen fighter jet and what is more interesting is that despite such low budget it works perfectly fine. No wonder USA wants to engage Germany, UK and Sweden in developing together a new 6th generation of fighter jets after they will study PAK FA jets. Russian 6th generation is already in designing process and according to their information it will be hybrid jet with AI and remote control as drone, which means no crew no expensive equipment for pilots survival and appropriate environment. Jets wont need to be airtight, they will be able to go with much higher wing load than nowadays 9g, no need for expensive ejection seats, no need for building protective cockpit and so on. Russia already developed a prototype of new engine for 6th generation which will be combination RAM and SCRAM engine which will push jet to the middle of hypersonic speed somewhere around Mach 7.

    • R Valencia
      Iranian ground radar tracked and gave directions to Iranian F4s to intercept U.S. MQ-1 drone flying in international airspace off Iran, but Iran didn’t know about the drone’s F22 escort.

      “By international law, the notion of a country’s sovereign airspace corresponds with the maritime definition of territorial waters as being 12 nautical miles (22.2 km) out from a nation’s coastline.”

      Iran has 1L13 “Nebo” VHF radar, Kolchuga (VHF, UHF and SHF), Matla-ul-fajr (VHF), Gamma Radar (low frequency band), Vostok radar (VHF) and other radars, and it didn’t detect F22 threat.

      • tbenton62

        Exactly, people ignore this.Unless the fighter is overhead, these are not going to detect it, and that then is for a very short period, you quickly can get of range, then course corrections to missiles is immaterial.

    • tbenton62

      The problem with long wave radar’s is the envelope, you use this for more short range detection, the problem is the ability of the radar losses capability the further out it is reading returns. This is why they made the F35 with the ability to fly at about 1.4 mach for about 150 miles without keeping the afterburners lit, the F22 with super-cruise can drop bombs as it is coming into detection range, then quickly leave the site.

  • citanon

    Apparently the “specific platforms” were not deemed fitting for disclosure the vital national security discussions on Disqus. Instead we are asked to believe that when the Air Force says it’s passing data, it’s not actually blowing smoke. Heaven help us. We must get the oversight committee to look into this egregious omission RIGHT NOW.