2017-10-14 The F-22 was labelled a “Cold War” aircraft by the last President and became a key target for Secretary Gates in terms of moving the USAF into a key role for supporting the ground forces, rather than providing for multi-mission air dominance for a much wider range of tasks, notably preparing for high temp and high intensity operations.
As a result, there are many fewer F-22s than originally anticipated, and the DoD did what is too often its usual practice of terminating a program when it has reached an effective price point.
What has happened is that the F-22 as it has deployed globally has expanded its interactions with a variety of new or evolving key combat assets and has demonstrated why it is a powerful enhancer of combat more generally, and integrated air combat in particular.
Discussions with Growler or Wedgetail pilots and crews have highlighted how the F-22s Training, Tactics and Procedures (TTPs) have evolved as these aircraft work more closely together in the evolving battlespace.
The role of the F-22 within Inherent Resolve have demonstrated the C2, ISR and strike functionalities of the aircraft working within an integrated air combat force.
Recently, F-22s have returned to Langley AFB from Inherent Resolve.
According to an October 1, 2017 press release from 1st Fighter Wing Squadron:
JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. – Over 100 members assigned to the 1st Fighter Wing returned to Langley Air Force Base today after a 6 month deployment to the Middle East. During their deployment, F-22 Raptors participated in Operation INHERENT RESOLVE against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
“I can’t be more proud of our Airmen,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Jason T. Hinds, 1st FW Commander. “They did fantastic work operating and maintaining the F-22 for a prolonged period of combat operations. Well done.”
While the 1st FW’s 27th Fighter Squadron was the lead element deployed, they were joined by personnel from the 27th Aircraft Maintenance Unit as well as Virginia Air National Guard Airmen assigned to the 192nd Fighter Wing.
“When we go to combat, it is truly a total force effort with our 192nd FW partners,” said Hinds.
The 1st FW homecoming was not quite complete, as some F-22s remained in Europe as part of the European Deterrence Initiative.
“The F-22 is America’s premier air dominance fighter, and our mission to Europe provides us an opportunity to train with our allies and strengthen our partnerships.” said Hinds.
While in the Europe, the F-22s will also forward deploy from the United Kingdom to other NATO bases to maximize training opportunities, demonstrate our steadfast commitment to NATO allies and deter any actions that destabilize regional security.
The slideshow above shows the F-22 being refueled during Operation Inherent Resolve by a KC-10.
The photos are credited to U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Trevor T. McBride, August 10, 2017.