US F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets just completed their first "combat surge" in operations over Syria, and in doing so it backed down almost 600 enemy aircraft in the crowded skies there that see Syria, Iranian, and Russian combat aircraft on a regular basis, the Pentagon said.
F-22s, which combine both stealth and top-of-the-line dogfighting abilities, functioned as both fighter jets and bombers while defending US forces and assisting offensive missions against heavily armed foes.
F-22 pilots from the 94th Fighter Wing completed 590 individual flights totaling 4,600 flight hours with 4,250 pounds of ordnance dropped in their deployment to the region in the "first-ever F-22 Raptor combat surge," the Pentagon said.
The Pentagon said the F-22 "deterred" 587 enemy aircraft in the process, suggesting the jet commands some respect against older Russian-made models often in operation by Russian and Syrian forces. This surge saw F-22 operations maximized over a three-day period.
Unlike any other battle space today, US forces on the ground in Syria have come under threat from enemy airpower.
A U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor fighter aircraft.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Hubenthal)
F-22s on this deployment escorted US Navy F/A-18s as part of their mission. In June 2017, Lt. Cmdr. Mike "MOB" Tremel, an Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet pilot scored the US's first air-to-air kill in years after downing a Syrian Su-22 that threatened US forces in the country.
The stealth fighter pilots defended US forces against enemy bomber aircraft and also backed up US, UK, and French forces when they struck Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime in the country's west in response to chemical weapons attacks.
The F-22s flew "deep into Syrian territory, facing both enemy fighters and surface-to-air missile systems," the Pentagon said.
While no US or allied aircraft went down, photos from the most recent US attack on Syria's government show the country's air defenses firing blindly into the night sky as the F-22s worked overhead.
The F-22 has encountered enemy fighter jets above Syria before, but the Pentagon has only reported relatively safe interactions and intercepts.
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