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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: Has the F-22 ever been used in combat?
By Mudhen6 on 3/24/2011 3:19:28 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, you're completely wrong. Air-to-air combat is a very perishable skill, and has to be practiced constantly to maintain proficiency. A conflict against Libya would almost certainly decrease the effectiveness of F-22 pilots - back in the '90s, F-15C pilots essentially had to re-start their A/A training regimen, back to the basics of BFM/ACM, when coming home from Iraq because they literally would spend months doing nothing but lazy circles in the sky, waiting for Saddam to send his air force up.

So your assertion that "there's only so much experience you can gain from training so maybe these F-22 pilots won't be up to the task if they come against a powerful enemy with a decent airforce" is actually full of crap. Better that those Raptors stay at home fighting out-numbered against simulated Russian/Chinese enemy air forces, than fly circles over Libya all day for months to make a political point.

RE: Has the F-22 ever been used in combat?
By DougF on 3/24/2011 9:06:39 AM , Rating: 2
A) Well said!
B) "Mudhen" = F-15E driver?

RE: Has the F-22 ever been used in combat?
By Mudhen6 on 3/24/2011 11:18:26 AM , Rating: 2
I wish. Good catch though. My country men fly CF-18s.

RE: Has the F-22 ever been used in combat?
By DougF on 3/24/2011 3:23:39 PM , Rating: 2
When I was in Saudi for a year, our DETCO at Taif was an F-15 driver and flew once/twice a month with the local RSAF F-15 squadron. He NEVER lost an engagement the entire time he was there (the RSAF pilots thought he was a genius). So, we pried his "secret" out of him one night... Turns out he says "I did stupid stuff", and the RSAF pilots didn't know how to react fast enough for him to regain the advantage. Like most Middle-Easterners, they are very good at rote learning. They know what to do, but not necessarily WHY it's done that way. So "Slam" would use his knowledge of the theory of dogfighting (conservation of energy) to work around their "rote" approach (which was very effective if they were to face the same kind of opponent). "Slam" said: "If I'd tried that against a Brit or German pilot, I'd be buying beer at the bar for my stupidity." A very telling tale of why training and the right KIND of training is important.

RE: Has the F-22 ever been used in combat?
By Mudhen6 on 3/24/2011 5:55:37 PM , Rating: 2
Good story, and I can't say I'm surprised. I think a lot of it has to do with the Arabic culture/mindset. Rote memorization is prevalent in Chinese culture as well.

There were articles making rounds through the internet a couple years back about this issue, such as this one:

Arab Culture and Arab Military Performance

From the article: "The internalization of traditional family values, norms, and rules of conduct relied on physical and psychological punishment. To behave properly meant to learn to suppress individual impulses. Since individuals had to take the clues of proper behavior from the traditional authority and heritage, and since they were not to choose or judge outside that framework, independent thinking and analytical abilities remained undeveloped, if not deliberately stunted. Instead, the socialization process over-emphasized rote-learning and memorizing ."

I can't factually confirm or deny anything in that article, but it makes for an interesting read. To be honest, I haven't heard many good things about the prowess of Saudi pilots, and given the dynamic, supersonic nature of ACM I don't quite understand how a strict rote approach would be effective against an opponent who is mentally agile and knows *exactly* why it's better to pull less Gs to keep corner speed than it is to dump all your energy in a 9G turn.

BTW, are you a USAF?

By DougF on 3/25/2011 10:08:56 AM , Rating: 2
BTW, are you a USAF?

Retired, 22 years of aircraft maintenance on F-15s and F-111s. Had to know not only my job, but the aircrew's as well, so I could understand what they needed for whatever mission they were going to fly. It was a lot of fun, kicking tires and lighting fires...

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