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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: Say hello to my little....
By Solandri on 3/23/2011 2:49:57 PM , Rating: 2
Why pull out the big guns when your medium guns are more than adequate?

Generally, when fighting a war, you want to hit as hard as you can to get it over with as quickly as you can. The goal of a war is to destroy the enemy's will/capability to fight. If you fight using the minimum necessary force to win, you:

1) Lengthen the duration of the conflict. People (mostly civilians, but sometimes soldiers) who could have been spared by a quick resolution to the fighting, end up dying.

2) Give the enemy the impression that he's not doing that badly, thus encouraging him to continue fighting. While he suffers defeats, he doesn't suffer really bad defeats. This creates the illusion that maybe, just maybe, he might be able to win. And he ends up fighting longer as a result.

3) Put at question your willingness to fight. If you're squeamish about using all the force you're capable of, the enemy starts to think maybe he can simply outlast you and win by making you lose your will to fight.

Historically, the battles where both sides were closely matched ended up with far more casualties than even one-sided slaughters. So generally, you are better off hitting harder than hitting softer.

I should add though that the best way to win is to simply convince your enemy that it's not worth fighting. I thought we should have offered Ghaddafi amnesty in exchange for exile in some neutral country. Let him keep his money, just turn over control of the country to the UN or something put together by the Arab League. Yeah it wouldn't have been fair. He would have escaped punishment for his crimes against his people. But it would've meant a lot less death and destruction of infrastructure that we're seeing now. And probably Mossad or someone else would've made sure he didn't get to enjoy his plunder for long.

RE: Say hello to my little....
By Keeir on 3/23/2011 3:35:07 PM , Rating: 3
Solandri, while you points are good...

It probably is more of the case that the F-22 in Libyia, given the restrictions and "objectives", is not a "bigger" stick, just a more expensive stick.

RE: Say hello to my little....
By corduroygt on 3/24/2011 12:28:23 AM , Rating: 2
Pretty much...

Why use a shotgun to hunt flies when a can of spray will do the same for much cheaper and just as effectively, if not more effectively.

"A lot of people pay zero for the cellphone ... That's what it's worth." -- Apple Chief Operating Officer Timothy Cook
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