F-22 May Get Its First Combat Mission

Fueling the Raptor

The U.S. Defense Department spent about $67 billion acquiring a fleet of almost 200 F-22 fighter jets, none of which has yet flown in combat.

That may change with a U.S.-led intervention in Syria, where the stealthy, highly maneuverable plane known as the Raptor may be used to penetrate and attack the country’s air defenses, among other targets.

“Syria is not Libya,” Mark Gunzinger, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a research organization in Washington, D.C., said in a telephone interview with Military.com. “Their air defense systems are more formidable. Using F-22s to help suppress those threats and support penetrating capability may be a good idea.”

The White House is preparing to launch a military strike in the war-torn country after the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad allegedly used chemical weapons against civilians. The Aug. 21 attack around Damascus reportedly killed a few hundred people and may be the deadliest since Saddam Hussein’s forces killed thousands of Kurds with Sarin gas in 1988.

While President Barack Obama said he hasn’t made a decision on whether to conduct a strike, he said there must be consequences for governments that break international norms against the use of chemical weapons.

“It’s important that if, in fact, we make a choice to have repercussions for the use of chemical weapons, then the Assad regime … will have received a pretty strong signal that, in fact, it better not do it again,” he said in an interview yesterday on PBS’s “NewsHour” show.

When pressed on what a limited air campaign will achieve, Obama acknowledged that it won’t “solve all the problems in Syria. It doesn’t obviously end the death of innocent civilians inside of Syria. We hope … a political transition can take place.”

More than 100,000 people have died in the two-year-old uprising against forces loyal to Assad, according to a June estimate from the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks the death toll through a network of activists in the country.

Details on what an operation might look like remain murky, though at the very least would probably involve launching a series of Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles, or TLAMs, from ships against such targets as command and control facilities, air defenses and aircraft.

The U.S. and Britain amassed an armada in the Mediterranean within striking distance of Syria. Four Norfolk, Va.-based destroyers — the USS Ramage, USS Mahan, USS Barry and USS Gravely — are already in position, ready to launch the Tomahawk cruise missiles.

At about $1.5 million apiece, the GPS-guided missiles are more expensive than conventional bombs. But they can be launched from a safe distance — at least several hundred miles — and are ideal for hitting so-called “light” targets in fixed locations above ground such as planes, runways, fuel depots, weapon storage areas and Russian-made SA-2 and SA-5 anti-aircraft batteries.

The mission may also involve dropping GPS- and laser-guided bombs from such aircraft as F-15 and F-22 fighter jets and B-2 and B-52 bombers, though the U.S. probably won’t target chemical weapons or stockpiles or other so-called “hard” targets, at least initially, because they’re more difficult to track, pose a threat to civilians and may be buried deep underground.

The F-22 for its air-to-ground mission can carry two 1,000-pound Joint Direct Attack Munitions, or JDAMs; two AIM-120C Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile, or AMRAAMs; and two AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, according to an Air Force fact sheet.

Operational F-22s are assigned to Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va.; Joint Base
Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska; Holloman Air Force Base, N.M.; and Joint Base
Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, according to a July report from the Congressional Research Service.

The F-22 fleet was grounded for several months in 2011 and aircraft were again restricted from flying in 2012 after pilots complained of oxygen-deprivation symptoms, including dizziness, disorientation and coughs.

The Air Force, which initially struggled to identify the cause of the problem, concluded that a lack of oxygen — not the quality of it — was causing the symptoms, due primarily to a faulty valve on the pilots’ life-support vest.

The service earlier this year lifted flying restrictions on many F-22 fighter jets after upgrading their oxygen system and life-support equipment. It fielded new vest pieces in January and expects to finish installing automatic back-up oxygen systems on the rest of aircraft in the fleet by July 2014.

The aircraft is made by Lockheed Martin Corp., based in Bethesda, Maryland, and its oxygen system is made by Honeywell International Inc., based in Morristown, New Jersey.

Some questioned the Pentagon’s decision to not fly the F-22 in the 2011 allied attack on Libya that toppled former strongman Muammar Gaddafi. Whether to use the aircraft in Syria will be driven by operational requirements, not politics, according to Gunzinger, the analyst.

“The decision will be based on military need,” he said, “not on bureaucratic politics.”

About the Author

Brendan McGarry
Brendan McGarry is the managing editor of Military.com. He can be reached at brendan.mcgarry@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.

73 Comments on "F-22 May Get Its First Combat Mission"

  1. Haven't we learned from history? Iran, Iraq, Egypt, ect. We got rid of all their "bad" leaders that kept the crazy islamist(s) is check and replaced them with crazies that want to kill all westerners. We NEVER learn!

  2. About time these jets put to the test, I hope taxpayers won't be disappointed. Make us proud F22's.

  3. I doubt it will be used no USAF units deployed and only Tomahawk cruise missiles may be used. Doubt anything else but missiles from war ships would be used.

  4. Islamists are advancing on Damascus and America is the spearhead.

  5. The attacks currently being discussed in the news media will have limited objectives. Not a situation to risk the relatively small quantity of F-22s or their pilots when other assets will do the job. The F-22s should be conserved for other contingencies such as a conflict with Iran.

  6. Tribulationtime | August 29, 2013 at 2:12 pm | Reply

    As i understood F-22 stealth works for air to air combat. Ground radars and defenses have a better "view" of the bird. I belive F-22 is not air to ground weapons qualificated althouth test were made. So her role is escort and CAPs, only.

  7. Funny that $67B almost sounds like a bargain these days

  8. I saw Mike Tyson swat a mosquito. Or as you guys would put it "A tune up fight".

  9. Those planes are too sensitive and top secret to be let outside the confines of the lower 48.

  10. Glad to see the F-22 possibly being put to use; far from glad to see us sticking our dicks where they don't belong.

  11. USS ENTERPRISE | August 29, 2013 at 4:50 pm | Reply

    Rootin' for ya Raptors! It may not be the best idea to get involved over in Syria, but at least we get to see how well the Raptor sweeps the skies…..

  12. Unmothball the -117s…hah.

  13. Seems highly unecessary to me. The F-22 wouldn't be needed for this fight. They would just be using it to use it.

  14. Sending signals is not a good war strategy. That's what Lyndon Johnson used to do during the Vietnam war. I don't think they ever got the message.

  15. I have never supported a strike of Syria due to the equal brutality of the opposition. But when chemical weapon is used and proven conducted by Assad 's regime, the red line is crossed, and an appropriate response from the US and world community is required.

    Strike them and get out. Don't come in and get stuck. Appreciate donations and contribution from allies, esp. the Saudies, and wealthy locals who have great interests in this regional event.

  16. I suppose if the United States stuck to blowing up SAM sites and "suspected" "chemical weapons depots" they could leave it at that. If you're going to impose regime change, you may have to let the Russians have a seat at the table to appease them.

    To be honest, the only way to stop the bloodletting is to repartition the Middle East. Slice out a piece of Turkey, Syria and Iraq for landlocked Kurdistan. Sunni-stan will be eastern Syria, Jordan and western Iraq. Alawite-stan will be parts of Syria. Shiastan will be Iran and parts of Iraq (possibly even Basra, but giving Iran another strategic port..?).

  17. Stay the heck out of this mess. Let them kill each other off by whatever means they choose. The current civil war poses no threat to the United States. For the cnic to direct a strike is a violation of the United States Constitution. This in itself will be grounds for impeachment if Congress can scrape up the gonads to do their job.

  18. great, just great, Barry starts another war and we "lose" an F-22 over Syria (to an Russian manned SAM site previously unknown to us) and then the Russians go over every piece and the Chinese take it all back with them to China.

    …maybe that's the plan….

  19. Syria has Su-30MK armed with new R77, R-74, R-27 and unlike Iraq/Serbia, they have SAMs that rumored to be able to shoot down cruise missiles and aircrafts effectively. The S-300 long range missiles protected by Pantsir SAM/AAA both using advanced scanned array radar.

    Using the F-22 could reduce the risk of losing conventional fighters to these unknown capability threat. Unless the new Russian made radar could detect & defeat stealth, the F-22 should work well together with B-2. The Turkish modernized F-4 could be easily shot down by Syrian forces is evidence of its capability.

  20. From a completely unbiased standpoint, I would love to see what a F-22 and US air doctrine can do in a relatively secure AD environment that includes the real shit like S-300s. Actually put some of this shit to the test, find out how things pan out.

  21. Let The Islamic countries in the region resolve their own mess, and let's concentrate in putting our own house in order. This government needs to start taking a long hard look at our own infrastructure. We had one of our major cities declare bankruptcy for crying out loud do your damn job and fix our nation.

  22. Agreed. Syria is not an industrial heartland of Europe that has the resources to conduct a blitzkreig to take over a continent, or Middle East, and kill 6M people. So I'd say why the f_ck should we care? I'm also not much concerned about Islamist militants taking over the country. If they do and they lift a finger that's against our interests, we can invade them and balkanize them.

  23. I think that we, in the US, first think about bombing another country without first thinking about what real justification for such bombing. Don't get me wrong, I ain't no tree hugger and I loved it when the F-111s bombed Libya for retaliation and thought that Clinton made a mistake in not bombing Taliban bases in the Stans during his administration, but seriously, is Assad going to hurt us? Heck, even experts say that Assad being in power would preserve the relative peace and quiet along the Golan Heights.

  24. Russia never delivered the S-300 to Syria. I guess they are regretting that decision now.

  25. No need for the F-22 in this area. F-16s and F-15Es using stand off smart munitions will do the job. Of course whats the point. Let them have their civil war. We have no dog in this fight. Both sides hate us. Let them kill each other. Besides if Iran decides to enter this Bovine Scatt and closes the Gulf the price of gas would go to over $10 a gal.

  26. Yea!!! F22 on point for f-ing al qaeda.. Good going Obama and your cocky mouth

  27. Where would you fly them out of, Sigonella? Bringing them in just so you can try them out in combat really doesn't make a lot of sense. Of course the whole idea of sending aircraft or shooting cruise missiles into Syria doesn't make any sense so I guess that's what our government will do.

  28. Why use a Saw to pound in a nail? F22 is an interceptor primarily. Sure, it can be used to hit ground targets but why when there are better tools. Geez, the Pentagon has morons in charge!

  29. The multiple defeats in the war on terror have left America scared and weak. I'm sure that even if it means sarin gas smuggled in from Mexico in our malls in retaliation – Americans are willing to pay the price just so we can be a great power again.

  30. Harvey Meltzer | August 30, 2013 at 10:34 am | Reply

    WELL Since we have a good record on "OOP'S" missed the target. Asad could be one of the ones in the "WRONG" Target.

  31. Somehow it seems appropriate that the F-22's first mission should be to advance Al Queda's agenda in the Middle East.

  32. I really like the 8 page reply to the first comment, Wow. The U.S. needs to stay out of this. If they want to change those that govern them I say let them. But let them do it; it will mean more to them. We don't need American Blood spilled in the Middle East. I say hands off.

  33. We were duped into believing that Iraq had WMD's by an Iraqi general who was really a front man for Iran. Iran used us to do their dirty work. Let's not let that happen again. It would not be unlike Sunni militants to gas Shia civilians and blame it on Assad. GO AHEAD SUCK US IN AGAIN!!! Let China step in and do something. They're the BIG BOY on the block now. The US needs to stay out of other countries affairs and start taking care of their own.

  34. Benny,
    Saddam did have WMD. He used Sarin gas on the Kurds and the Swamp Arabs.

  35. Marcelo Pacheco | August 30, 2013 at 11:10 pm | Reply

    F22 can carry either 2 1000lb JDAM or 8 SDBs. Due to enhanced design, SDBs can replace a 1000lb JDAM in most missions, increasing their bombing capability four fold.
    SDBs also glide far longer than JDAMs, using F22 speed and altitude SDBs are predicted to fly over 80 miles to hit a target, allowing Raptors to avoid getting to close to higher threat SAMs.
    Hopefully Raptor dropped SDBs will be used in place of most tomahawk missions, due to its far lower cost (a Raptor flying a 4 hour mission dropping 8 SDBs costs about the same as a single TLAM costs).
    Or USAF can keep the Raptors as a questionable asset in real world missions. We'll see.

  36. Anyone has a guess of how close to the coastline the warships needed to be to fire their missiles ?

  37. These thousands of death is just a small beginning if we, the US and world community, do not act. The conflict in Syria is a dilema that it either happens the way it has been, or we can sacrify our own human lives bringing in our own troops to topple one dictator 's regime in order to set up another which so far has not shown any less degree of brutality.

  38. Let's put the F22 into test so that we know how stealthy and effective they are in a given situation and make a necessary modification if ever……

  39. This is a great idea! Lets go ahead and expose the F-22 to Russian and Iranian operators for training on its RCS. Brilliant!


  41. WTF? Did we run out of cruise missiles? No need to risk billions in aircraft and crew to send "a signal". Unleash a barrage of Tomahawks and see if anything gives. If it doesn't accomplish what you'd hoped then proceed with escalation of force.

  42. “In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members… It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons. Should he succeed in that endeavor, he could alter the political and security landscape of the Middle East, which as we know all too well affects American security.”

    – Hillary Clinton, Oct 8, 2002

  43. Thought you guys would like to see just the first part of an old article.


    For example: In 1998’s Operation Desert Fox, the four-day punitive bombing campaign in Iraq, the U.S. expended 90 air-launched cruise missiles. During that same operation, ships and submarines fired more than 300 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles, or TLAMs, at $1 million a copy.
    Bottom line: At one point, the Air Force simply ran out of CALCMs during the Kosovo campaign.

  44. F 22 killed in SyriaSeptember 2 2013 at 12:27 PM
    No score for this post kamel (Login kamel_bylka)
    Eagle Squadron (US)
    According to U.S. media, therefore, including the Oklahoman newspaper, citing U.S. military sources, a Lockheed F-22 Raptor, U.S. fighter, had crashed late yesterday afternoon and in the night from Sunday to Monday in northern Jordan. However, the military sources also appear to claim that this plane, the Lockheed F-22 Raptor, was just shot by Syrian missiles when he tried to get beyond the Syrian border. If this information is confirmed, the specter of an attack on Syria away, especially that this time, Syria is more vigilant and hand on the trigger, waiting for all eventualities .

    The Los Angeles Times said meanwhile that the Syrian defense forces shot dead four Tomahawk missiles launched by the U.S. on Syria. If this is the case, then these deadly weapons are part of ultimate cruise missiles, we must admit that it will just be the end of the war inclinations people like Obama or his rantanplan, Francois Hollande. Finally, hope …
    According to these sources, these missiles have been launched to test the degree of protection of Syrian forces.

  45. I seriously believe that is propaganda. During the last Israeli incursion into Lebanon there was a Hezbollah guy guarding a so called crash site of a shot down IDF Jet. If you looked close though you could see it was a pile of burning tires. Someone didn't have their F-Stop set low enough to properly blur out the tires.

  46. The official count was 187 which included the one which was destroyed shortly after completion and several others htat have been destroyed since.

    I should think that the Air Force Insider would know this.

  47. Give B Hussein O enough rope to cinch his impeachment.

  48. Keep our powder dry, whatever little bit we have left. Russia, China and Iran are our real enemies and they are suckering us into fighting their straw man in Syria. We've been fighting ghosts for the last twelve years and have accomplished zilch.

    Give Putin the ultimatum and forget his puppet Assad. Without Russian aid, Assad will fall.

  49. Michael Shigorin | September 4, 2013 at 2:24 am | Reply

    Well the rumours have that F-22 lost its first combat mission, the sources are unclear though. This will have to be sorted out in public though, hope at least some Americans are thoroughly fed up with fed lies already.

  50. Our gov't shouldnt worry about what Russia will do. They are a toothless tiger that couldnt even defend their own territory if it wasnt for nukes. They have I believe 5 functional strategic bombers which took 2 yrs to build each one. The rest of the air force can barely take off and land. The black sea fleet has an average ship age of 40 years and they are afraid to go out to sea. Get a close up of the ships in the russian fleets and they have an inch thick layer of pain on them which would make their actually being able to use their weapons close to impossible. The federal army had to pull out of Chechnya because the muslims were cleaning their clocks and putin didnt want the embarrassment of it happening while he was in power. They have only been able to afford 1 new tank a year and don't have the money to do much maneuver training. Their best barely beat the Georgian Army.
    China could bluster and fire some missiles but they are not going to go to war over syria. Saying all of that I still believe O would be a flaming idiot to start another war that would not benefit our country in any way.

  51. How about 100 hours of strikes and bombings? Tomahawks and then B-62 missions. I think the B-52s could make their run while the Tomahawks are raining. In 100 hours, Assad's ability to make war should be obliterated. Have you ever seen what the Earth looks like after a B-52 run?

  52. HERKEY ANDERSON | September 4, 2013 at 7:02 pm | Reply

    barack insane obomber done gone nuts! he has a death wish! OURS!

  53. F-22, first time in combat? Naw, that's not true! First F-22 combat was with 'Iron Man', I know because I saw it in a movie.

  54. Unfortunate, although you say this in jest too many people learn their history and world events from movies. I once had a young lady who asked me why during the Revolutionary War the people had to look out for the British and signal by lamps. And why did Paul Revere have to make his ride. They could have just watched the brits by satellite and called on their cell phones. Sadly, I’m not making this up.

  55. Америка может узнать, что такое настоящая война. Это не безнаказанная бомбардировка беззащитных Ирака, Афганистана и Ливии. И даже не Вьетнам, из которого "героическим" янки пришлось убегать с позором. Вся ваша спесь улетучится после первых же потопленных авианосцев. Вояки вы хорошие только в голливудских боевиках. Момент истины впереди, и этот момент покажется вам кошмаром…

  56. Translated – America can learn what a real war. This is not unpunished bombing defenseless Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. And do not even Vietnam, of which the "heroic" Yankees had to run away in shame. All your pride will evaporate after the first aircraft carrier sunk. Fighters you are good only in Hollywood movies. The moment of truth in front, and this time you will find a nightmare …

    Hant, You are obviously a product of a Vlad Putin education. How bout them russian troops havinbg to run out of chechnia like dogs with their tailes between their legs? Or the Russians best forces barely able to defeat the Georgians? Our problem is incompetent traiterous Democrat party politicians. We didnt lose in Vietnam we just quit playing. The democrats wouldnt let us win. I could go on for hours at russias problems. If it wasnt for nukes the Iranians would own all of southern Russia and China would have already taken over all of Siberia. BTW wa does Russia and the russian military in particular have such a HUGE Heroin addiction problem?

  57. Translated – America conducts itself in the world as a sheriff-imbitsel: yes Colt, but no brain, because and dangerous. How can we explain the fact that the U.S. is going to fight on the side of al-Qaida on the money the Saudis?
    What kind of democracy are you talking about? Snowden told everyone what methods your gangster state acts. A monkey with a grenade …

    Google translation is not perfect but the ideas are clear enough. Personally I think its stupid for us to get involved, even stupider to do it in a half way manner, even more stupid to do it to help put al-quaida in power. The soviets and now russia spy like thugs and criminals on everyone including their own people. Historically the french then the israelis where the top spyers after russia and the US. Ironically the US started doing all of this techno spying after he destroyed our humit capabilities. Don't worry Putin will hang himself.

  58. What a waste of money the F-22 raptor was! At 330,000,000 each we purchased an over priced aircraft that we don't need as our other aircraft are perfectly capable of the mission.

    The military industrial complex produces just to produce and suck money out of our economy that we can use much more productively. We could buy an F15 for 30 million, an f16 for 20 million.

    We could have funded college education for 600,000 engineers for that cost

  59. I'm NOT the boss but I don't want ANY Americans flying in Syrian airspace. NONE.

  60. My relative is a pilot of one of these mighty figther jets. All of the training that he has received is about to be tested before our very own eyes. The best to 2nd Lt W… We love you bro and am proud of you!

  61. If a pilot goes down in this encounter of no boots on the ground, who will recover the pilot?

  62. The country that needs a political regime change is the U.S.

  63. Obama is probably going to give one each to Putin and Assad for bailing him out in Syria.

  64. "No Boots on the Ground'. What happens if a pilot gets shot down. Obama leaves him/her like in Bengazi?

  65. We, the US, should STOP now; it is criminal that our involvement in the war in Seria should continue at any level. It should be obvious that the "chemical weapons" attack was a "false-flag" attack promulgated by factions of the NWO in conjunction with the Muslim Brotherhood for their "own" purposes and was NOT carried out by the current "lawful" government of Seria. I do not consider this to be a proper role for our military or the people of the United States but one being forced upon us by the internal "minions" of the NWO who have infiltrated our government at the highest levels.

  66. We got ride of Gaddafi in LIbia NOT because he was a horrible abusive dictator but because he was a "liability" to the monetary control of the PTB. When I first heard of Gaddafi's intent to create the African Gold Dinar ("gold" backed not "fiat" currency that allows for the easy theft of wealth from those foolish enough to use it) to be used to pay for African oil and keep the wealth of Africa in Africa for the benefit of the people of Africa I knew his days were numbered and truly they were. As middle-eastern leaders go he evidently was quite humanitarian and treated his people well though you would never have known it from the MSM press coverage here in the US. The minions of the NWO had done their job of demonizing Gaddafi well.

    The PTB don't like any one screwing with their plans and are quite vengeful when they do so; ergo, Gaddafi's family had to be destroyed as well.

  67. The path to WW3 is already in the works. When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?

  68. Wake up people. This has nothing to do with gas. This is all about Russia not wanting Saudi Arabia to run a new gas pipe line through Syria to feed Europe, where at present the Russian gas company has a strong hold.

  69. Are there any confirmed CAS call-outs where ordinance was dropped in the last year? i have heard reliable sources say rumor has it they've already been in contact over a half dozen times (not including that chasing off of the MIGs).

    Anyone know anything about this?

  70. I would like to know how the F22 withstands the Russian front line fighter but not this time we don't belong in Syria . Sooner or later Isreal will have to deal with them and then we may have to watch their back door … Let Russia and or Cina get their kicks and a few butt kicks would do them good . I don't like Russia killing innocent folks over there .. Give and train the oposistion with weapons to do some damage to Russia Like we did in Afghanistan Would do more good than any thing we could do to them .. MY TWO CENTS thanks !

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