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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.

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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...

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