Raptor Keeps Amazing

No Air Force missions into Syria happen without F-22s playing a pivotal role, said Gen. Hawk Carlisle, head of Air Combat Command, on Monday. “What we have learned” about using the F-22 in combat is its “ability … to enhance everybody else,” he told the audience at an AFA-sponsored Air Force breakfast event in Arlington, Va. “It’s amazing what that airplane can do,” he said, noting its impressive situational awareness, “its ability to get there, its sensor suite, its ability to pass information,” and, of course, to defend airspace and drop weapons. Carlisle recounted the story of one F-22 pilot who recently conducted an extraordinary mission. “He did a mission, took off at about 6:05 at night and landed about 6:30 the next morning,” he explained. The pilot switched to different roles numerous times during the mission. He “went to the tanker about seven times, did strikes, escort…. He did redirect, did [intelligence surveillance, and reconnaissance], and passed data,” said Carlisle. Navy F/A-18 pilots, after an early exercise with Raptors in a wargame called Northern Edge, said they would never disparage the F-22 again, because it’s “making everyone all that much more effective,” said Carlisle. It wasn’t possible to tell whether he called the 2010 “decision not to buy any more of the F-22s” a “fateful” one or “fatal.”