Air Force is engaged in Libya right now and it is using mostly older aircraft
like the F-15E to do the heavy fighting and ground attacks. The B-2 stealth
bomber was employed though and in many hostile airspace operations the B-2 would
have been accompanied by the F-22 Raptor, the most capable air superiority
fighter in the USAF arsenal.
However, in Libyan operations the B-2's have apparently flown on a mission without the help from the F-22. Air Force
Times reports that the reason the F-22 wasn't sent along with three B-2
bombers that bombed targets in Libya was a combination of the lack of need and
the limitations of the F-22.
A flight of three B-2 bombers left Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri to make
bombing runs in Libya on March 20. Generally, Air Force doctrine would have the
B-2s fly with F-22s for protection from enemy fighters. The Air Force
Times reports that USAF Maj. Eric Hilliard, spokesman for Africa
Command said, "I see no indication that F-22s were used as an escort for
the B-2 nor do I see anything that indicates the Raptor will be used in future
missions over Libya."
Analyst Mark Gunzinger of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Analysis on
Washington said, "Frankly, they [F-22s] might not be needed. Libya’s
defenses were not that robust to begin with and were rolled back quite
Other than the F-22s not being needed, perhaps a more telling reason was that
the limited capabilities of the Libyan air force have kept the vaunted fighter on the
sidelines. Libya fields mostly older fighters and the F-22's performance and
capabilities weren’t needed. The F-22 also has a very limited capability to
communicate with other coalition aircraft operating in Libya by design. Radio
emission from data links that would enable the Raptor to communicate with other
fighters would also potentially give the position of the stealthy F-22 away.
Analyst Loren Thompson from the Lexington Institute said, "The designers
of the F-22 had a dilemma, which is whether to have the connectivity that would
allow versatility or to have the radio silence that would facilitate
stealthiest. What they opted for was a limited set of tactical data
The F-22 as it is now can only communicate with other F-22's via a data links
during flights. Other than the communications issue, the F-22 also has limited
capability to hit ground targets. This is to be expected in an air superiority
fighter. The F-22 is capable of carrying a pair of 1,000-pound Joint Direct
Attack Munitions guided by GPS. It’s can't carry the 250-pound Small Diameter
Bombs that the F-15E Strike Eagle and other aircraft can use. The F-22 also lacks
that ability to create synthetic aperture maps of the earth surface that are
used to select ground targets.
There were plans to add the ability of the F-22 to use the Multifunction
Advanced Data-link the F-35 will use, but the finding for that program was
pulled last year. That capability would have come in the Increment 3.2 software
update for the F-22 and would have also added the ability for the F-22 to
target eight ground targets at once.
the Senate also pulled funding for additional F-22 fighters.
quote: it sends the wrong message politically in a situation where Obama doesn't know what he's doing.
quote: I agree 100% with that. I mean, what the heck are we doing? Obama hasn't made his message clear and I think we deserve some answers.
quote: We shouldn't be going to war without solid evidence.
quote: Air DenialFriendly air forces may initially operate in a state of air denial at the start of the halt phase during which the enemy nearly has air dominance.Air Superiority5 Joint Pub 1-02 defines air superiority to be the degree “in the air battle of one force over another which permits the conduct of operations by the former and its related land, sea, and air forces at a given time and place without prohibitive interference by the opposing force.”Air Supremacy...air supremacy is achieved when superiority is ensured just about everywhere, thus allowing friendly aircraft the ability to fly anywhere within the theater of operations. However, this airpower state does not adequately address the issue of airpower’s effectiveness at dropping bombs on enemy targets.Air DominanceThe final airpower state is the attainment of effectiveness in the conduct of offensive air operations. While joint publications do not define air dominance,...it is the highest airpower state when the requisite effectiveness of airpower is achieved, that 100% of friendly bombs hit enemy targets while no enemy bombs hit friendly targets, that wars are won quickly (such as during the Six-Day War of 1967 and Operation Desert Storm of 1991), and that fewer friendly casualties are suffered.
quote: I would describe the difference between 'air dominance' and 'air superiority' as one of magnitude of ability to influence events in a given piece of airspace. For instance, when you begin to conduct any kind of a combat or theater-wide operation, normally that theater commander's first priority is to make sure that you have air superiority over your own troops, [which should] generally guarantee that you will not have your troops attacked. . . . The next stage has been called air supremacy, where you, for all intents and purposes, not only are able to defend your own people, but you pretty much dominate the space. You can operate at will in there. Air dominance . . . is a term that's sort of grown up in the last couple of years in joint doctrine. . . . Dominance to me is kind of an extension of the supremacy idea that says, 'Nothing moves or operates in that guy's airspace.' I mean, you totally control it. It's a step above.General Fogleman, in March 14, 1996, testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
quote: What the concepts of air superiority and supremacy lack is the consideration of the effectiveness of airpower to achieve objectives after an air force attains either. An enemy which has been defeated in the air may still prevent air dominance through a variety of means ranging from ground-to-air attacks to attacks on friendly airbases. The domestic procurement budget may also prevent air dominance due to a lack of understanding, hence funding, for any of the links of the air dominance chain.
quote: Why pull out the big guns when your medium guns are more than adequate?
quote: BTW, are you a USAF?