Stateside Basing Kept F-22s Out of Libya

Your boy John Reed (who’s filling in for a recently departed Colin Clark at DoD Buzz) reported this morning the real reason why the much-baleyhooed and (pricey) F-22 Raptor wasn’t deployed to the retro-1990s No-Fly Zone op over our 1980s enemy Libya.

Answer: It was too far away (guarding against Russian bombers puttering their way across the Aleutians on petrol fumes).

“Clearly, had the F-22s been stationed in Europe in closer proximity [to Libya] and therefore more available, they undoubtedly would have been used,” said Schwartz. “But as this came together fairly quickly, the judgement was made to apply the various tools we had in our toolkit using the resources that were in close proximity.”

Okay, so let me get this straight. The Air Force has been fighting tooth and nail to argue that the F-22 is relevant to future fights and (Schwartz notwithstanding) it should be seen as the most powerful aircraft in the skies today. That alone should be motivation enough to move heaven and earth to get those planes into Libyan airspace…how about a “taxpayer value” demonstration, for Chrissakes!

And, we have CNO Roughead telling us straight up that he pulled up his Growler squadron’s stakes in Iraq and flew them to Aviano and were banging trons in less than 48 hours? The Air Force didn’t have time to move the F-22s from Langley to Aviano? Roughead told us the plans were solidifying a week before the balloon went up. That’s more than enough time to show some value in the $150 million per plane pricetag (depending on who you ask).

But no, it wasn’t a slight against the aircraft, which was, by the way, built just for this kind of mission…

The four-star made a point to add that the decision to leave the F-22s home was “not an ad hominem against that weapons system at all; it really was an expedient judgement with respect to putting the plan together and executing it on a very rapid timeline.”

Uh huh…

I’m a taxpayer, and I’m pissed. What are we waiting for, an air invasion by China? By then it will be swarms of $200K drones against one $150 million airplane…good ROI folks.

  • http://www.hcp.kk5.org Brian Black

    The brother colonel’s airforce is practically non-existant, and you don’t need an F22 to shoot down embargo busting cargo aircraft, or taxiing jet trainers, or Gadaffi’s personal jet as he tries to flee into exiled retirement.
    Anyway, if this is to be a true retro campaign, the US needs to find a couple of Tomcat museum exhibits it can dust off and send out instead. Maybe send Tom Cruise his call-up papers too.

    • marcase

      True, but the F-22 stealth and networking could’ve been usefull during the early hours of the campaign, as a scout/escort for the Growlers. The much acclaimed sensors and networking ‘apps’ of the F-22 are claimed to turn it into a ‘Growler Lite’, combined with hi alt and supercruise it could perform a ‘Day One’ ISR role.

      • TheMan

        So I am guessing you didn’t read where the F-22 does not play well with others in passing information through datalinks…just saying.

    • http://twitter.com/Cr4shDummy @Cr4shDummy

      You’re right, but it would be a hell of a pr job if we used it.

      I guess we’re saving them for a Red Dawn type scenario… wolverines!!!!

  • Will

    The F-22s primary mission is air superiority & they’ve already established air supremacy, so deploying the F-22 would be overkill. This is a signal that the Air Force hierarchy isn’t trying to create opportunities to sell Congress on building more. Secondly, it’s prudent to hold them in reserve against the possibility that Iran may try to take advantage of events near their borders.

    • OpenID

      Aviano is closer to Iran than are the Aleutians.

      • Curt

        And the Iranian Air Force and Air Defense is about as good as the Libyans.

  • Dfens

    You clearly do not understand the reason for the existence of the USAF. It is not there to keep this nation safe from foreign invaders. It is not there to look out for our best strategic interests overseas. It exists to make sure that a handful of select defense contractors make as much money as possible designing airplanes that may or may not ever fly or fire a shot in anger. The sooner you come to grips with that reality, the happier person you will be.

    • kim

      S’funny, the piece above suggests that impressing taxpayers was part of its raison d’etre too.

  • John Moore

    $150 million per plane pricetag?

    Then lets scrap this F-35 garbage and restart f-22?

  • citanon

    Why put the F-22 into a non-fight where competitors (France) and potential adversaries can attempt to monitor and analyze it’s electronic signature?

    And $200K drones? These days missiles cost more than $200K each. Give me a break.

    • URMom

      Wwouaaa, I’m a taxpayer. Wwouaaa, I want to use this expensive plane for a job that barely requires it at greater expense to taxpayers.

      Wwouaaa, I want better blogging

    • http://twitter.com/Cr4shDummy @Cr4shDummy

      Good point, they’re not needed. As many have stated. But it would be a pr coup if one of them intercepted a Libyan aircraft or vessel.

  • http://twitter.com/E_L_P @E_L_P

    WILLARD
    They told me, that you had
    gone…totally insane. And that
    your methods were unsound.

    KURTZ
    Are my methods unsound?

    WILLARD
    I don’t see any method at all,
    sir.

  • FtD

    to me this Libyan exercise is the perfect place to test anyform of weapons with UN blessing. I’m very much surprised USAF didn’t send F22 to clock some hours on real combat sorties, then at least pentagon can then boast F22s were deployed in real war situation….. but seems the plane’s much fragile than one may hope it is……

  • chuck

    I think the real reason the F-22 wasn’t used was because Gates didn’t want the truth to come out that the F-22 is so good at its job that the JSP should be cancelled and the F-22 be put back in productions. Politics makes for stange bed partners, Generals, Politicans and clowns all in on the secret. Lets get real the JSP is a dud lets kill it and restart the F-22 and get that plane into combat stop the games Gates leave already we are tired of your games.

    • blight

      Programs got messy when Lockheed decided to split subcontractors into everyone’s congressional district. Sign of the times, that it’s more important to trick politicians than it is to build a weapon that is not more expensive than it has to be.

    • blight

      Under Cheney (who was in turn under Bush Sr) the F-22 buy dropped. Remember Cheney killed the A-X and tried to kill the V-22. Clinton did not reverse this trend, and neither did Bush Jr. Not sure if it was politics the first time around…

  • HGd23

    There was no need to use something like the f-22 in Libya. Not too mention the cost of maintenance for flying it with zero opposition. Heck the no fly zone could be flown with F-4s with no problems. Think people.

    • William A. Peterson

      Only if we HAD any F-4s left!
      Technically, you’re right, but we could do the job with F-104 Delta Darts, if it was just Libya’s Air Force…
      Most of this is really Air-to-Ground work, though, and the Air Force (originally) insisted that the F-22 be designed for Air Superiority ONLY… {Le Sigh!}
      I don’t believe the General’s claim, though…
      The F-22 is supposed to have Supercruise specifically so it CAN get from U.S. bases to wherever it has to go, as quick as possible.

      • TrustButVerify

        Only one nitpick… The F-104 was the Starfighter. The F-106 was the Delta Dart.

  • Jacob

    Here’s a question….did we ever actually NEED the F-22? Back in the 80’s we wanted an advanced fighter to get a leg up on the Soviets. Then the USSR disappeared, so the rationale for the F-22 was that we needed an F-15 replacement. Then, as I understand it, the Air Force tossed in tons of new requirements that resulted in redesigns that jacked up the costs. I also think it’s likely that this plane was too far ahead of its time. Sure the F-22 can dominate any opponent in the air, but it’s still susceptible to attrition, everyday wear-and-tear, and maintenance downtime on the ground. Is this thing really a viable weapon of war, or is it more of a modern-day King Tiger of the air?

    • William A. Peterson

      YES, we did, and do, need the F-22…
      Or, at least, the plane that the F-22 was supposed to be!
      Maybe we didn’t need the stealth aspect, but we did, and still do, need a plane that’s easier to maintain than the F-15, which is something of a “Hangar Queen”.
      We need something with Supercruise, so we can get it where it’s supposed to go, in as little time as possible. We need something with a modern Radar, which most existing F-15s don’t have as ‘standard equipment’.
      Yeah, we can retrofit the Radar, but the F-15 is still based on Space Shuttle era technology, and we’re retiring those!

    • Belesari

      Yes we needed it. Just because the USSR wasnt there to build aircraft or air denial weapons doesnt mean no one ever would again. As it is we got the F-22 ans soon will have the JSF for what it is worth.

      Meanwhile the Russians and Chinese will soon have their own stealth fighters capable of going agaisnt even the F-22 in the right cirtumstances.

      The entire procurment process needs to be overhauled……..NOW.

    • SMSgt Mac

      The Job of the F-22 is “Air Dominance”. Not “Air Superiority”, not “Air we have a slight edge”,not “Air Parity in the Sense of Fairness”. We need it to OWN the skies come what may. First Capability: Air to Air. Secondary capability: Destruction (not Suppression) of Enemy Air Defense (DEAD not SEAD). It’s got the first capability in spades, and the basics for the second. When fully evolved it will have the second capability in spades as well. It was the plan. It is the plan.

      • blight

        F-22 + AGM-130 would be terrifying. 40+ mile range, likely to make someone’s day.

      • bobbymike

        BPOTD - Best Post Of The Day

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ross-Anderson/1667563693 Ross Anderson

    The thing is, there are f22 in the AO. A buddy of mine knows a guy based in Italy and he’s had eyes on some 22’s

    • Firefly

      Think opsec

  • jamesb101

    I said this a week ago here….

    An Aircraft w/o a mission……

    Nuff said….

  • Sev

    Anyone else think that for the price of the F35 program we couldve bought a nice F22 fleet instead?

  • William C.

    Brilliant. What about ground vehicles too? Remember how the M1 Abrams is a fiery deathtrap.

    • blight

      And Shinseki’s Magic Strykers?

      • William C.

        No, no, no. Your supposed to call the Strykers a wheeled, flammable, death-trap-truck. Look at Mike Spark’s rantings.

        In truth the Strykers have served well when you recognize them for being light armored vehicles and not tanks.

        • blight

          I distinguish between the concept-Stryker and what came out of the factory.

          Shinseki-Strykers were supposed to be lightweight, joint-family of vehicles, C-130 airliftable, faster and zippier than the M113 shoebox. Instead we got something akin to the half-track of WW2 on steroids. I reserve further judgement on the Stryker, as I don’t want to go on a tangent.

  • roland

    Reserve it for the Rooskies, Norks and Chicons if they attack us.

  • STemplar

    He related round about why they weren’t sent. The whole OP was an ad hoc last minute mess the White House pulled the trigger on because they were about to be made to look stupid. Having said that though I don’t think moving them in an emergency deployment would have been completely without value unless of course Gen Schwartz expects an imminent attack over Virginia…..

  • DaveC

    The F-22 is an Ace card, just like the B-2. And the F-117 that came before them. Only a damn fool would play it when its not needed.

    You people did see the F-15 pancaked on the ground in Lybia right? Planes crash in war. The Goddamn Russians and Chinese would be shooting themselves out of cannons to get to an F-22 crash site. And offering whores and piles of money to any rebel with the smallest piece of raptor guts.

    I would lay money down right now that they forward deploy people to any possible war zone they think the USAF is going to participate in. Would that shock anyone here if true?

    • Valentina

      and if the enemy is inside of you?

      • blight

        Then you use B-52s. Carpet bomb. Internal revolutions/rebellions only succeed with the consent of the military.

    • Mastro

      Absolutely- I have no problem with the F22 being kept under wraps for a few more years- let the Chinese do their own R&D

      When F35’s are in Turkey, Italy, Israel etc- then that tech will be out of the bag-

    • SXO

      Except the B-2 was used during this conflict, so there goes that theory.

      • PGDC

        Not necessarily. The B-2 has a much longer range than any fighter. They flew out of Missouri, refueled on their way to Libya, dropped bombs on their targets (assuming they did so under the cover of darkness and with relatively secure airspace) and flew home. You aren’t going to have a squadron of F-22’s do the same thing. Not to mention, I can see how they wouldn’t want to risk having a squadron of F-22’s sitting on foreign soil. The less of our top game that we have deployed and in the air at the same time, the less likely we are to end up having one of those planes get shot down, and as DaveC mentioned, picked up and analyzed by the Chinese.

  • Guest

    And why would they worry about that if they’re flying from the US to Europe?

    • blight

      His point isn’t literal, it’s more that some other computer bug may pop up at an inopportune time. For instance, if a similar bug occurred at GMT and wasn’t found it would probably be embarrassing at best.

      • Guest

        I understood his meaning. I still think that that’s not likely to happen.

  • STemplar

    So Ares posted more of Schwartz’s testimony and he mentions the F-117s in Panama. He didn’t elaborate when questioned, so does that mean a question of over-match or that the Night Hawks missed their target? I would say the latter, since boasting about the over-match would be easy.

    To summarize, we didn’t use them because….

    -They’re based too far away to get into the fight in time (perhaps a less h

    • STemplar

      hmmmm, darn enter button.

      So Ares posted more of Schwartz’s testimony and he mentions the F-117s in Panama. He didn’t elaborate when questioned, so does that mean a question of over-match or that the Night Hawks missed their target? I would say the latter, since boasting about the over-match would be easy.

      To summarize, we didn’t use them because….

      -They’re based too far away to get into the fight in time (perhaps a less hurried plan would help and basing where they are to be needed)

      -They can’t communicate with allied aircraft as well and the upgrade is still in question as to effectiveness.

      -We don’t want others to be able to see/scan them.

      -We are afraid they might not work as well or miss or whatever, although it seems if there’s a shortcoming probably be better to figure that out against a B team like Libya as opposed to the ‘big one’.

      I don’t quite know how this flow chart looks but it seems to me these planes are essentially never going to be used by the testimony we’ve received from our military leadership. Between the excuses about distance and basing location, to shortfalls, or to not hurt fans feelings, the lack of applicable upgrades I’m left wondering what the heck they are for.

  • Nevada

    The reason they did not use the F22 is because it’s an expensive piece of crap that can be easily shot down because the active stealth system does not work most of the time and the passive stealth is not that good. They are afraid that the Libyan’s would shoot it down before it could strike any targets and they would be so embarrassed.

  • Matt

    Alot of people have mentioned that the F-22 is overkill in Libya, it cant comunicate well with older planes yet, and has a lower air to ground load than say a Strike Eagle. I agree with all that and I want to add something else.
    This blogger mentioned how he thinks the F22 is being wasted intercepting the Russian bombers, but heres the thing imagine if it were flipped and Raptors were scattered in small numbers around the world for Libyan sized conflicts. He’d be whining about his oh so important tax dollars going to send an over powered jet against small countries while the Russians test us at home. This guy will never be happy with the F22.
    Right now it does what its designed to do; be a deterent to powerful enemies like Russia and the PRC, not fight little side conflicts against 1980s level nations…

  • Nick Dwyer

    Lots a good comments…lots a dumb ones.
    Writer: I get you sarcasm, but lets face it Libya doesn’t have super-migs.
    Why it didnt go in order of most important reasons:
    *Budget- Dont waste precious funds on deploying maint crews/tanker support
    *friendly Opsec (F117 Frenchy lesson)
    *F-22 Overkill- USAF fighters from Germany and UK / Ally 4th Gen fighters good enough (B-2 made for this)
    *fear of crash not worth risk based on need (F117 crash)

    Game on!
    See my blog for cool aircraft concept art http://nickdwyer.wordpress.com/

  • Nick Dwyer

    Lots a good comments…lots a dumb ones.
    Writer: I get you sarcasm, but lets face it Libya doesn’t have super-migs.
    Why it didnt go in order of most important reasons:
    *Budget- Dont waste precious funds on deploying maint crews/tanker support
    *friendly Opsec (F117 Frenchy lesson)
    *F-22 Overkill- USAF fighters from Germany and UK / Ally 4th Gen fighters good enough (B-2 made for this)
    *fear of crash not worth risk based on need (F117 crash)

    Game on!
    See my blog for cool aircraft concept art http://nickdwyer.wordpress.com/