The Air Force’s fifth generation fighter, the F-22 Raptor made its combat debut with its first strike on enemy ground targets in the fight against the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant during the most recent joint coalition campaign.
During a press briefing at the Pentagon, Sept. 29, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey L. Harrigian, the assistant deputy chief of staff, operations, plans and requirements, spoke on the decisive impact airpower can bring to the coalition fight against ISIL.
“We see airpower as one of the fundamental components of the comprehensive strategy, but also recognize that airpower alone will not destroy ISIL,” Harrigian said. “We have been working with our coalition partners and sister services for years to develop the full array of airpower capabilities we are bringing to this fight.”
During real-world scenarios, mission planners look at all capabilities and assets available to the Air Force at any given time, then use those assets appropriately as the situations dictate.
“Specifically as the planners took a look at the threat environment that was part of the Syrian laydown, they wanted to ensure they use the right capabilities in the right location,” Harrigian said.
One of the capabilities used was the F-22. Although the F-22 brings a stealth capability and speed to the picture, the avionics system of the aircraft provides an improved capability to the warfighter and the coalition forces the United States has joined in the campaign.
“The greatest capability the F-22 brings is its integrated avionics, its’ fused avionics that facilitate situational awareness,” Harrigian said. “It is not just for the pilot in the airplane, but really for the entire package that is going to execute the mission.”
According to Harrigian, the F-22, in addition to striking targets provides situational awareness via integrated avionics and fused sensors to other aircraft in the fight.
By adding the F-22 to the available assets in the strike package it makes all the aircraft more lethal and survivable by offering more advanced protective measures. However, providing decisive effects requires maximizing the full capabilities of airpower.
“Air power offers a broad range of capabilities to the combatant commanders and ultimately the president,” Harrigian said. “Beyond air strikes we will continue to provide, intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance, tankers, command and control platforms and humanitarian assistance as required to meet the enduring as well as the emerging requirements that will naturally occur over the course of the operation.”
“Ultimately, as Airmen we have a responsibility to bring our air mindedness to this fight, to bring our unique capabilities from the air space and cyberspace, and we plan to continue doing just that.”