Report: F-22 Raptors Launched Airstrikes in Syria

An F-22 Raptor from the U.S. Air Force 525th Fighter Squadron performs a refueling mission with a KC-135 Stratotanker from McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., outside of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, during a training mission, Aug. 7, 2014.  The F-22 is designed to project air dominance, rapidly and at great distances. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Stephany Richards/ Released)

U.S. Air Force F-22 stealth fighter jets were part of the opening wave of American-led airstrikes in Syria against the Islamic State, according to a news report.

Julian Barnes of The Wall Street Journal included that dramatic bit of information in his story about the rapidly evolving military mission against the al-Qaeda-inspired terrorist group:

“Using Navy Tomahawk cruise missiles and Air Force fighter planes, including stealthy F-22s, the U.S. carried out plans for strikes against more than a dozen targets inside portions of Syria controlled by Islamic State militants, officials said.”

The stealthy, highly maneuverable plane was likely used to penetrate and attack the country’s sophisticated Russian-made 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 last year in an 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 Defense Department spent about $67 billion acquiring a fleet of almost 200 F-22 fighter jets, which have only just recently begun flying combat missions.

Last year, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh sketched out a dramatic tale of a lone F-22 Raptor chasing off Iranian fighter jets over the Arabian Gulf. The confrontation was the first publicized engagement involving the Air Force’s most modern fighter and military forces of Iran.

“When the combatant commander wants air power there is only one number to call,” Welsh said, praising Lt. Col. Kevin “Showtime” Sutterfield. “Showtime is an Air Force Reservist,” the chief added. “He flies the F-22. He flies it really well.”

Welsh was referring to an incident in March 2013 in which an Iranian F-4 flew within 16 miles of an MQ-1 Predator drone flying off the coast of Iran before a previously undisclosed aircraft escorted the Predator to safety. That aircraft was an F-22, the Air Force’s fifth generation fighter.

But the plane’s mission in Syria on Monday is a far more significant illustration of its intended use in a combat role and, indeed, mark the first airstrikes in which it has participated.

In its air-to-ground configuration, the fighter can carry pairs of GPS-guided 1,000-pound GBU-32 Joint Direct Attack Munitions, as well as active guided AIM-120s Amraam and AIM-9s Sidewinder missiles. It was slated to be enhanced with upgraded radar and as many as eight small diameter bombs.

The Islamic State has taken over large parts of Iraq and Syria, seizing on the political instability in both countries. Some 200,000 people have died in the more than three-year-old uprising against the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Since August, the U.S. is estimated to have spent more than $1 billion launching thousands of airstrikes, surveillance and other missions in Iraq to thwart advances made by the terrorist group, which had overtaken Mosul and threatened to reach Baghdad.

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.
  • Chris

    Get some!

    • Born in the USA

      Come get you some!

    • tiger

      12 year old cheerleaders…..

  • Lance

    Finally it gets some action for the raptor too bad its not as needed ISIS has no air force and lacks any real anti aircraft defense apart from short range AAA and machine guns. Sure think F-22s and F-15Es will be busy for now taking out ISIS T-55s and technicals in the desert.

  • mpower6428

    Is that why we’re bombing Syria…? seems legit.

  • BlackOwl18E

    Combat debut of the F-22. This is actually surprising.

    However, I don’t see the point to needing to sneak into Syria to do this. We created that necessity ourselves. Bashar Assad was willing to cooperate with us in the fight against ISIS and our president snubbed him.

  • royrdsjr

    You got to love Fox News Megyn Kelly,she said that we were flying B-1 “stealth bombers” & that the NAVY introduced for the first time “their” F-22 Stealth Raptors. I was screaming at my TV correcting her.

    • blight_qwerty

      I had the misfortune of being on msnbc and reading a terrible blog post about how “liberal women ugly, conservative women beautiful”. Could I just get accurate news without an ideological slant without this fetish for appearance?

    • Mark

      Well, the B-1 does have some LO on it, but by no means is it to today’s “stealth” specs.

  • oblatt22

    The F-22 probably just flew past the border. They aren’t good for much more than an airshow.

  • Steve

    The main reason is that Assad would only accept if WE only dropped bombs on sights he wanted us to, basically fighting HIS war for him! He also wanted full disclosure on any activity in Syria, he is not in any conditions to negotiate anything.

    Plus he has a toy called S300… pretty advanced, not for the F22 but just in case!

  • sundown

    I hope they have contingency plans in the event one crashes or gets shot down. You can bet China and Russia are sending help to bring one down so they can advance their own aerospace programs like they did with the F-117A that got shot down over the Balkins. If we lose one of our F-22s we better JDAM the crash site so we don’t have an incident like the stealth helicopter tail rotor from the UBL raid being carted off to the highest bidder on video on CNN

  • 009

    FINALLY! Dust beneath the wings of this bird, RIGHT ON!!!

  • Martin Kaufman

    Hey Oblatt22: You really don’t know the how powerful the F-22 is. It is so powerful, that while America was reducing its new Weapons, the Soviet Union was building up its arsenal. It’s the only plane that can handle any new generation of Warsaw fighter Jets without being blown away!! You should really do research on the comparison of Warsaw Pact Fighters to NATO fighters and you will be much more educated instead of your inexperienced comment about the F-22.

    • oblatt22

      Ah yea sure we’re reducing our weapons because the F-22 is so powerful sure LOL

    • Nope. F-22 is good, but it isn’t the best. http://defenseissues.wordpress.com/2014/08/30/com

      • wpnexp

        Interesting article, but sadly incomplete. For instance, if an opposing fighters radar or radar guided missile will not lock on to the F-22, then they are forced to close to very close ranges where and IR missile can get a tone while still on the fighter, or even to gun range. That would be a pretty clear disadvantage. There have been numerous reports of aircraft having an F-22 in visual range, but could not lock a missile onto the fighter. Second, you speak nothing of the fact that US fighters have almost a complete lock on AESA radars on fighters. That won’t last much longer, but it is a major factor in radar detection range and reliability as well as stealth. The ESM system on the F-22 probably has nothing like it to be campared to in the world. Finally, while nothing can actually replace actual flying time, the US is able to get more out of a flying hour because the pilots are able to work out a lot issues by flying in very high fidelity simulators. Therefore, once in the air, pilots can concentrate on the skills needed to fight the plane better without having to deal with routine requirements.

    • tiger

      Warsaw Pact fighters? Holly Marty McFly & the delorean…
      Yeah, I spend late nights in terror of East Germans. Sigh……

  • The one armed man

    To all those who said the F-22 was worthless, hasn’t seen combat, the stealth doesn’t work, it wasn’t used in libya because it really can’t do what it was supposed to do, etc can now shut the f*** up.

    • blight_qwerty

      It appears to be part of a mixed strike, along with Navy aircraft including Hornets and Prowlers. Guessing the F-22’s went in alone for the precision strikes against ISIS targets, with Navy aircraft on standby to attack if the Syrians detected and fired upon the F-22.

    • tiger

      War; now boiled down to HS football bleacher yelling…. We have come so far from 1914 & the “war to end all wars.” Kinda sad for humanity.

  • CEMILLER

    No the F-22 took out air defenses that threatened the strike package that attacked ISIL.

  • godzillajet

    FINALLY! The day has come where all F-22 haters may just SHUT THE FUCK UP

    • Nicholas .a

      amen to that.

  • rtsy

    Wonder how much intel the Syrians were able to collect on it.

  • Peter Miles

    Our news (UK) is reporting that the Syrians permitted these strikes. That being the case I don’t understand why the F-22’s were needed. Unless we don’t trust the Syrians which, I suppose, is fair enough.

    • The one armed man

      The Syrians weren’t asked, their UN ambassador was told right before the strikes happened.

    • tiger

      The Blue suit crowd felt the USN was having too much fun. Thus a join op that really did not need them. The tomahawks & Bush air wing have had most of the work load.

  • Brian B. Mulholland

    Even if we had Syrian permission – explicit or tacit – having the bombs delivered by an aircraft they couldn’t track was probably insurance against someone making a mistake.

    • citanon

      Most of the bombs were delivered by planes they could track. The F-22 was there to kill anyone who “made a mistake”.

  • Nick987654

    It is important for the USAF to test the capabilities of the F-22 in relatively easy scenarios. If one day the USAF is involved in a large scale war against a near peer enemy, they have to have a good idea of the real effectiveness of the SDB on the F-22, as it could be a potential game changer.

    • tiger

      Try more like justify the existence of the program to Congress after 13 years of zero action. Test? You sent a Mig shooter on a milk run with no MiGS or Sukhoi’s…..

      Like sending A-rod to the Company softball game….

  • John

    The most powerful weapon on the F-22 is held within it’s passive sensors capabilities, this is the primary reason it was used IMO.

  • Stephen foley

    How can an Iranian jet be chased away by a plane it cant see?? Lol

  • Cataldo

    F22s in Siria are a political asset, not else. They fly over Siria to show everybody that the real target is Assad, not Isis, and that he can be reached in minutes.. There are some secondary windows of opportunity for same new sigint, but is not so important.

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