Print 79 comment(s) - last by inperfectdarkn.. on Mar 30 at 7:41 AM

Baddest USAF fighter gets none in Libya  (Source: Air Force Times)
B-2 bombers flew without their Raptor escorts

The U.S. 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-22Air 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 handily."

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 links."

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.

In 2009, the Senate also pulled funding for additional F-22 fighters.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

Depends on what you mean by escort
By bug77 on 3/23/2011 12:39:06 PM , Rating: 2
The B2 takes off from US (Minnesota?), goes all the way to Libya, drops the bombs and returns. It only needs escort over hostile territory I assume, since no fighter can fly along over that distance.
And it needs even less protection when you have complete air superiority.

RE: Depends on what you mean by escort
By Aikouka on 3/23/2011 1:12:50 PM , Rating: 2
Your last point mirrors my thoughts exactly. The F22 would be used to engage hostile aircraft, but if there aren't any and you're pretty much 100% certain that there won't be any... why waste the manpower?

As a note, "complete air superiority" is usually called "air supremacy."

RE: Depends on what you mean by escort
By DougF on 3/23/2011 4:01:42 PM , Rating: 2
Air Denial
Friendly 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 Superiority
5 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 Dominance
The final airpower state is the attainment of effectiveness in the conduct of offensive air operations. While joint publications do not define air dominance, 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.

By Aikouka on 3/23/2011 4:57:51 PM , Rating: 3
Hmm interesting... I've never seen the term "Air Dominance" used before. I did a little research on it, and it seems, as your comment mentioned, the term is very loosely defined. I did find some interesting quotes on it though...

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.

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.


I'll have to keep that in mind. Thanks for the info!

RE: Depends on what you mean by escort
By Mojonba1 on 3/23/2011 1:16:14 PM , Rating: 2
You forgot about Air to Air Refueling

RE: Depends on what you mean by escort
By bug77 on 3/23/2011 3:49:25 PM , Rating: 2
No, I didn't. It's just that I have never heard of a fighter flying that distance. Technically, it may be possible, but I doubt the pilot can sit in his chair for the whole journey.

RE: Depends on what you mean by escort
By DougF on 3/23/2011 4:15:35 PM , Rating: 3
It would be very hard to do. When we flew from RAF Lakenheath to Libya and back in '86 (about 5,600m and 14hrs of flight time), some of the aircrews had to be lifted out of their aircraft. We even had to tow a couple back from the runway as their legs didn't work well enough to handle taxiing the aircraft back to the parking spots.

RE: Depends on what you mean by escort
By bug77 on 3/23/2011 7:04:19 PM , Rating: 2
Ha! I'm smart!

And hats off to you, sir.

RE: Depends on what you mean by escort
By Azethoth on 3/24/2011 5:08:15 AM , Rating: 2
May I propose a simple remedy:

If only this simple technology was available then your fellow pilots would have been able to taxi home instead of just sitting there trying to hold it in!


By DougF on 3/24/2011 3:09:33 PM , Rating: 2
They already have "piddle packs" they carry along for the long rides (basically a sponge in a plastic bag). Courtesy demands the aircrew put full ones in his helmet bag and NOT hand them down to the crew chief. And, for the really long rides, there are "poopy suits" (basically "Depends"). Sometimes it sucks to be in a fighter...

Reminds me of a story one of my Lts told me when she was in charge of maintenance on a squadron of OV-10s. It seems there is a "relief tube" as part of cockpit equipment that the pilot can use to relieve himself of liquid waste while airborne (bad form to do this on the ramp...). Anyways, a colonel was ticked off about his ride and wrote up the relief tube as "too short". Well, this young, female, maintenance officer had the pleasure of assuring him at the next day's flying recap meeting that the aircraft's tube was, in fact, the correct length...could've heard a pin drop in the room with everyone looking anywhere but down the table at the colonel...

By GeekWithFire on 3/23/2011 1:53:05 PM , Rating: 2
B2's are housed and take off from Whiteman Air Force Base in Knob Noster, Missouri.

By Rankor on 3/23/2011 4:27:36 PM , Rating: 2
If there was F22 escort, it would (probably) begin at the East Coast or West Coast/Hawaii/Alaska depending on w/c destination they were heading.

"DailyTech is the best kept secret on the Internet." -- Larry Barber
Related Articles

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki