Quiet Guardians

During separate responses, two F-22 fighters last week intercepted two general aviation aircraft that violated a temporary flight restricted area over the United Nations building in New York City, announced NORAD. The intercepts occurred on Sept. 25 during the time that President Obama addressed the UN General Assembly. We asked Air Combat Command if these engagements marked the first time that F-22s have scrambled to protect US airspace in support of Operation Noble Eagle since the Raptor fleet returned to flight in September 2011. “It was not the first intercept” since then, Air Combat Command spokeswoman Kelly Sanders told the Daily Report on Sept. 28. Instead, she said, “the F-22 has been performing ONE duties since it returned to flight.” ACC grounded the Raptor fleet for nearly five months starting in May 2011 as it investigated the physiological incidents that some Raptor pilots were experiencing in flight, like nausea and disorientation. Since the F-22 fleet resumed flight operations, the Air Force has been incorporating hardware changes in the Raptor cockpit, along with modified flight procedures, to keep the pilots safe as the fleet returns to normal operations in phases.