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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: No point in risking F-22s
By Aloonatic on 3/23/2011 4:12:00 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure that the Euro-fighter was needed either. The thing is, as far as the UK goes anyway, all there is on offer are Tornadoes and Euro Fighters.

It's sometimes quite amazing, looking from the outside in, what Americans find to complain and moan about. Someone has taken a sensible decision to not bother sending F22s up as it would be a waste of time and money, yet still people find a reasons moan moan b1tch and moan.

You have the option of a carrier full of F15s and F18s, as well as Harriers, and then B2s with optional F22 support. Brilliant. And someone made what appears to be the right call too.

What does the UK have? We don't even have our tiny little toy carriers any more as we had to scrap the early because we've been living of make-believe economics and a former government not afraid to use debt to buy votes during our last election.

So the Euro-Fighter almost certainly wasn't needed, but we (UK, and probably the rest of Europe too) just don't have the options that you guys have.

RE: No point in risking F-22s
By DougF on 3/23/2011 4:24:20 PM , Rating: 2
Minor technicality: F-15s aren't carrier-capable (well, they might make a landing, but it would probably drive the gear through the airframe and rip the tailhook off; a catapult launch would probably rip the nose gear/forward fuselage off, though a stripped down F-15, with a 60/65knot headwind (30knots from wind, 30 from carrier) could possibly make a successful launch without the catapult). US Navy only flys F-18s these days, until the F-35 comes along. The F-15s are flying out of Italy, probably Aviano, or Gioia De Colle.

RE: No point in risking F-22s
By silverblue on 3/24/2011 9:03:37 AM , Rating: 2
Well, being the UK, we're very good at retiring something without a viable successor.

My mother lives just a few miles from RAF Coningsby, and I can't help but think that, had I been there at the time of the Top Gear Veyron vs. Typhoon race (not that we knew when it was exactly, but still), I'd have seen that thing going vertical. Shame. :( Also, whenever I go over there, I don't really see too much activity, so it's a case of some pretty bad timing on my part; perhaps they don't like flying at weekends. :P

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