Tag Archives: Royal Jordanian Air Force

Jordan Vipers step it up

Jordan F-16s have destroyed 56 Islamic State (ISIS) targets over the last three days, the Jordan government in Amman stated on 8 February. The stepped up effort is a response to the brutal execution of the Jordan F-16 pilot captured by ISIS last December. On the same day,  US foreign minister John Kerry said the international coalition has significantly forced back ISIS.

Along with actual bombardments, the Jordan authorities have also stepped up propaganda effort, with lots of footage of bombs being loaded and airstrikes being carried out, showing up on YouTube. The Jordanians are now responsible for 20 percent of all air strikes against ISIS. Weapons depots and hide outs have been destroyed, according to Amman.

The Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF) has several dozen Lockheed Martin F-16s in use, mostly of the F-16AM and BM versions. The first contract for 16 aircraft was signed in 1996, with deliveries starting in 1997. All are ex US, Belgian or Dutch aircraft, with 15 more former Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) aircraft on the way.

In turn, Jordan sold twelve F-16AM and one F-16BM to Pakistan last year. First deliveries of those aircraft began last year.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest

A peak into the cockpitof a Jordanian F-16. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A peak into the cockpit of a Jordanian F-16. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Jordanian Air Force starts training ops with new Robinson choppers

The Royal Jordanian Air Force is launching its training and light scout operations with its new Robinson R44 Raven II helicopters, ordered in October. The first four out of an order of eight were planned to be in the country before New Year, the second batch is destined to arrive in January or February 2015.

Jordan chose the relatively cheap and easy to fly R44 Raven II to replace its fleet of Hughes 500Ds. The latter have been in service since 1981. The new white R44s will be used for primary helicopter training at the King Hussein Air College in Mafraq, Jordan.

The RJAF Raven IIs are equipped with Garmin and Aspin “glass” avionics and the Bendix King’s military KTR909 UHF transceiver. Low maintenance and operating costs were apparently key in the purchase of Robinson machines, according to a brief statement by the Jordanian military.

Before the arrival of the new choppers, ten RJAF pilots already attended Robinson’s safety course, as well did a dozen Jordanian mechanics. This way both groups already had a chance to familiarize themselves with their new equipment.

Source: Robinson Helicopter Co.

The R44 Raven II (Image © Robinson Helicopter Co.)
The R44 Raven II (Image © Robinson Helicopter Co.)

“Jordanian F-16 downed by ISIS, pilot captured”

A Royal Jordanian Air Force F-16 fighter jet crashed in an area of Northern Syria controlled by the so-called Islamic State forces on Wednesday 24 December 2014. The pilot was captured by ISIS / ISIL troops, that claimed to have shot down the aircraft. If true, it would mark the first time ISIS/ISIL succeeded in shooting down a jet aircraft.

According to a human rights watch group the aircraft came down near Raqqa. Initial speculation about the downed jet being a Royal Jordan Air Force F-16 was later confirmed by ISIS, Jordanian and US sources. A picture of the canopy of the aircraft appeared quickly on social media. The pilot was later shown in a ISIS video surrounded by armed men of a rebel group, and Jordan has confirmed it is missing one of its pilots without going into further details.

Despite claims of ISIS that it shot down the RJAF F-16, there is no conclusive evidence the airplane was indeed shot down; it may well have crashed due to other reasons. However, Islamic State force earlier succeeded in shooting down an Iraqi Air Force EC635 helicopter over Iraq – killing its crew – but never before a fighter aircraft. If they did, that may point to the ISIS/ISIL-forces are getting their hands on more advanced weaponry. However,

The international coalition fighting ISIS/ISIL forces includes F-16s from several countries, with both the Belgian Air Component and the Royal Netherlands Air Force operating F-16s out of Jordan. But they focus on Iraq and sources were quickly to indicate the captured pilot spoke Arabic. A US Air Force F-16 was lost in an accident over Jordan on Sunday 30 November 2014, killing its pilot. The aircraft was involved in operations against ISIS / ISIL, but was not engaged in any combat action at that time.

CSAR
The downing / crash of the RJAF F-16 in hostile area raises questions on how realistic and effective combat search and rescue (CSAR) missions are in the area. The thought of a CSAR mission package going into the area to retrieve a downed pilot in a environment this hostile and unpredictable, seems daunting. How well organised the international CSAR assets in the area are, is unknown. But the US did move A-10s from Afghanistan into Kuwait earlier, partly to support a possible future CSAR scenario.

© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editors Elmer van Hest and Marcel Burger

>>> See our entire Iraqsyrialog
AND: >>> Overview: Air Assets fighting ISIS

A Jordan F-16, bought from surplus Belgium inventory. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A Jordan F-16, bought from surplus Belgium inventory. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Overview: Air Assets deployed against ISIS – Mid 2015

B-1B Lancer
As much as it looks like a space ship on its way to warp speed, this is still a B-1B Lancer, better known as the Bone. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

STATUS MID 2015. LATEST UPDATE 24 JULY 2015 | The so-called Islamic State forces – numbering as many as 30,000 – have taken control over parts of Syria and Iraq since 2014. The forces known in short as ISIS or ISIL (The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) pushed local populations to flee by the hundreds of thousands. ISIS also assassinated several Western journalists and other nationals, causing furious reactions in those countries.

>>> Check our entire Iraqsyrialog here >>>

Fearing more instability in and maybe even at home by fellow countrymen supporting the Syrian uprising, many Western countries first enrolled in a humanitarian aid mission to refugees in Northern Iraq in Summer 2014. After much discussion this turned into a full-out air campaign led by the United States of America, with the first US air strikes on ISIS positions in Iraq on 8 August 2014 and the first US/international air strikes in Syria on 23 September 2014.

Sailors direct an F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the Tomcatters of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 31 on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), released on 2 October 2014 (Image © Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brian Stephens / USN)
Sailors direct an F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the Tomcatters of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 31 on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), released on 2 October 2014 (Image © Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brian Stephens / USN)

Although ISIS has a strong foothold on the ground and making the governments of Iraq and Syria quite nervous because of the advances ISIS makes, the group has no air assets. While Iraq fully supports the US led bombing campaign, Washington kind of just informed the Syrian government that they would start bombing. Being uncertain of the Syrian reaction, the US deployed its very advanced and stealthy F-22 Raptors for the first time in combat and had aircraft tasked with countering Syrian air defences in case they would interfere.

During the course of several weeks many countries outside Southwest Asia promised military contributions to the air strikes and air support missions against ISIS. We at Airheadsfly.com tried to make an as complete as possible overview of the air assets deployed, based mainly on official sources. We’ll update the overview frequently.

© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger

US Air Force (USAF)

The F-22 Raptor made its combat debut during the opening salvos of the air campaign against ISIS in Syria, taking full use of its secondary bombing role. (Image © Staff Sgt. Jim Araos / USAF)
The F-22 Raptor made its combat debut during the opening salvos of the air campaign against ISIS in Syria, taking full use of its secondary bombing role. (Image © Staff Sgt. Jim Araos / USAF)

Since 2014.08.08. Dozens of aircraft, including:

  • Rockwell B-1B Lancers, bomb / strike. Operating from a.o. facilities Al Udeid Airbase in Qatar
  • Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptors, bomb / strike
  • Boeing F-15E Strike Eagles, attack /CAS
  • Lockheed Martin F-16C Fighting Falcons, attack/CAS. One F-16 was lost in an accident over Jordan on 30 November 2014, killing its pilot.
  • Lockheed Martin F-16CJ Fighting Falcons, anti-radar & anti-SAM
  • Fairchild A-10C Thunderbolts, close-air support / attack. Operating from Ahmed Al Jaber Airbase in Kuwait (confirmed November 2014)
  • Boeing KC-135 Stratotankers, in-flight refuelling
  • McDonnell Douglas KC-10 Extenders, in-flight refuelling
  • Lockheed C-130 Hercules / Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules, airdrop of weapons, ammunitions and medical supplies near / in Kobane to Kurdish fighters 2014.10.20
  • General Atomics MQ-1 Predators, attack / recon drone
  • General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper, attack / recon drone

Operating from several bases in the region, as well as the mainland USA. Since the end of July 2015 / beginning of August 2015 US forces also started to operate from Incirlik Airbase in Turkey, after that country gave up on an earlier blocking of such operations from its soil. US name the anti-ISIS actions Operation Inherent Resolve.

US Navy (USN)

An EA-6B Prowler attached to the Garudas of Electronic Attack Squadron 134 lands aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush in the Persian Gulf after conducting strike missions against ISIL targets on 23 September 2014 (Image © Petty Officer 3rd Class Brian Stephen / USN)
An EA-6B Prowler attached to the Garudas of Electronic Attack Squadron 134 lands aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush in the Persian Gulf after conducting strike missions against ISIL targets on 23 September 2014 (Image © Petty Officer 3rd Class Brian Stephen / USN)

Since 2014.08.08. 60 to 70 aircraft:

  • 12 Boeing F/A-18E Super Hornets, strike / attack (part of CVW-1; and earlier CVW-8 and successor CVW-17; confirmed involvement)
  • 22 Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornets, strike / attack (part of CVW-1; earlire 10 to 12 were part part of CVW-8 and successor CVW-17; confirmed involvement)
  • 20 to 24 Boeing F/A-18C/D Hornets, strike / attack (till April 2015; part of CVW-8 and successor CVW-17)
  • 5 Grumman EA-18G Growlers, anti-radar & anti-SAM (part of CVW-1 and 4 or 5 were part of CVW-17; since Mid-October)
  • 4 or 5 Grumman EA-6B Prowlers, anti-radar & anti-SAM (part of CVW-8; relieved Mid-October)
  • 4 Grumman E-2D Hakweye, AWACS (part of CVW-1; first cruise of E-2D version)
  • 3 or 4 Grumman E-2C Hakweye, AWACS (till April 2015; part of CVW-8 and successor CVW-17)
  • Sikorsky SH-60B Seahawk, support (till Mid-October; part of CVW-8)
  • 7 Sikorsky SH-60F Seahawk, support (part of CVW-1)
  • 10 to 11 Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk, support (part of CVW-1; earlier part of CVW-8 and successor CVW-17, some placed on other ships)
  • 2 Grumman C-2A Greyhound, transport (part of CVW-8 and successor CVW-17)

Mid-October 2014 the CVN 70 USS Carl Vinson and that carrier’s Carrier Air Wing 17 (CVW-17) with 67 aircraft relieved Carrier Air Wing 8 (CVW-8) on board the CVN 77 USS George H.W. Bush (and escort ships) in the northern Arabian Gulf. The Carl Vinson was relieved by the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) with Carrier Air Wing 1. US named the anti-ISIS actions Operation Inherent Resolve.

US Marines (USMC)

An AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter and UH-1Y Huey helicopter fly off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii, towards Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii on 13 June 2013. (Image © Sgt Reece Lodder / US Marine Corps)
An AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter and UH-1Y Huey helicopter fly off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii, towards Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii on 13 June 2013. (Image © Sgt Reece Lodder / US Marine Corps)

Since 2014.09.28. Although the involvement of the US Marine Corps in the bombing campaign is very small (unknown at this point), the Marines do fight ISIS targets on the ground and support the operations of the other branches of the US military with shipborne aircraft of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) in the Arabian Gulf (aka Persian Gulf). Moreover, the Marines provide ground based air assets.

  • At least 6 McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) F/A-18, fighter / attack / CAS; land-based from February/March 2015; replaces AV-8Bs deployed
  • 10 McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) F/A-18C(N), fighter / attack / CAS; part of US Navy CVW-1 operating from the Persian Gulf as of April 2015
  • 6 McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) AV-8B Harriers, attack / CAS, shipborne
  • Grumman EA-6B Prowler, electronic warfare, land-based
  • Lockheed KC-130, in-flight refuelling, land-based
  • Bell/Boeing MV-22B Ospreys, tilt-rotor assault/transport; land-based
  • 8 to 10 Bell/Boeing MV-22B Ospreys, tilt-rotor assault / transport, shipborne
  • 4 or more Bell AH-1Z Super Cobras, attack / CAS, shipborne
  • 3 or more Bell UH-1Y Hueys, attack / CAS / utility / medevac, shipborne
  • 3 or 4 Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallions, transport / assault, shipborne

Operating from the amphibious assault ship LHD 8 USS Makin Island and the amphibious transport dock ship LPD 22 USS San Diego. The dock landing ship LSD 45 USS Comstock sails along with them in the Arabian Gulf (aka Persian Gulf). US name the anti-ISIS actions Operation Inherent Resolve.

Iraqi Air Force (Al Quwwa al Jawwiya al Iraqiya; IQAF) and Iraqi Army Aviation (IQAR)

An Iraqi air force AC-208B Combat Caravan aircrew launches a Hellfire missile on 8 November 2010 at a target on the Aziziyah Training Range, south of Baghdad (Image Sgt. Brandon Bolick © US Army)
An Iraqi air force AC-208B Combat Caravan aircrew launches a Hellfire missile on 8 November 2010 at a target on the Aziziyah Training Range, south of Baghdad (Image Sgt. Brandon Bolick © US Army)
  • 3 Cessna AC-208Bs (armed scout) and 3 Cessna RC-208B (reconnaissance) from Kirkuk Airbase or another location. Since beginning of 2014 or before
  • 15 Sukhoi Su-25 (“Frogfoot”) attack and close-air support aircraft. Since Autumn 2014.
  • Up to 6 Mil Mi-35M (“Hind”) attack helicopters. One or two Mi-35s have been lost due to hostile fire.
  • Up to 15 Mil Mi-28NE Night Hunter attack helicopters are planned to have made its debut before the end of the year 2014, but no firm confirmation yet
  • Up to 19 Airbus Helicopters (Eurocopter) EC635 (IQAR) armed scout and ground support helicopters. Date of first combat action unknown. A twentieth EC635 was shot down in December 2014 by ISIS militants.
  • Up to 23 Bell 407 JetRanger armed scout and utility helicopters. A 24th Bell was lost due to hostile fire.
  • 6 Aérospatiale SA342 Gazelle scout helicopters

Armée de l’Air (AdlA) & Aéronautique Navale

Cool cockpit image of the Rafales at their petrol station in the skies above Iraq in September 2014 (Image © Armée de l'Air)
Cool cockpit image of the Rafales at their petrol station in the skies above Iraq in September 2014
(Image © Armée de l’Air)
  • 9 Dassault Rafales, reconnaissance / attack / CAS
  • 6 Dassault Mirage 2000D, attack / CAS. Announced 2014.11.19.
  • 1 Boeing C135FR, in-flight refuelling
  • 1 Breguet Atlantique 2, reconnaissance / bomb damage assessment

Initially the French contingency, made up of the Rafales, Boeing C135FR and Atlantique 2, only operated from the United Arab Emirates, Al Dhafra Airbase, since 2014.09.17. The Mirage 2000Ds announced in Mid-November fly from an airbase in Jordan. French name for the entire contribution is Operation Chammal.

Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF)

Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18F Super Hornet ((A44-222) landing after an air display during the 2013 Avalon Airshow. (Image (CC) Bidgee)
A Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18F Super Hornet, seen during the 2013 Avalon Airshow. (Image © Bidgee)
  • 6 to 8 Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornets, strike / attack
  • 1 Boeing E-7A Wedgetail, AWACS
  • 1 Airbus KC-30A, in-flight refuelling
  • 1 Boeing C-17A Globemaster III, transport of supplies and ammunition to Kurdish forces. Flew at least once between Tirana (Albania) and Erbil (Northern Iraq) in September 2014, before returning to the RAAF Forward Operation Location at Al Minhad Airbase in the UAE

Operating from the United Arab Emirates, Al Minhad Airbase, since 2014.10.01. The Australians have given the missions the name Operation Okra.

Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF)

A RCAF CF-188 Hornet escorting a CC-150 Polaris (Image © Sgt Alain Martineau / DND-MDN Canada)
A RCAF CF-188 Hornet escorting a CC-150 Polaris (Image © Sgt Alain Martineau / DND-MDN Canada)
  • 6 McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) CF-188 Hornets, strike / attack
  • 1 Airbus CC-150 Polaris, in-flight refuelling
  • 2 Lockheed CP-140 Aurora, reconnaissance / bomb damage assessment

Commencing operations in 3rd or 4th week of October 2014. Operating from a base in Kuwait, possible Ahmed Al Jaber Airbase where the Danish F-16s also fly from (see below). Canadians name the anti-ISIS actions Operation Impact.

Royal Air Force (RAF)

A Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 being refueled by a Royal Canadian Air Force CC-150 Polaris during Operation Inherent Resolve on 2 February 2015. (Image © Canadian Forces Combat Camera, DND)
A Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 being refueled by a Royal Canadian Air Force CC-150 Polaris during Operation Inherent Resolve on 2 February 2015. (Image © Canadian Forces Combat Camera, DND)
  • 8 Panavia Tornados, strike / attack; operating from RAF Base Akrotiri on Cyprus, since 2014.09.27.
  • Boeing RC-135W Rivet Joint, surveillance; possibly be operating from RAF Base Akrotiri on Cyprus. Announced 2014.10.21. To be relieved by Sentinals.
  • Raytheon/Bombardier Sentinal, surveillance; possibly be operating from RAF Base Akrotiri on Cyprus. Announced 2015.03.26
  • General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper, surveillance; relocation to Iraq announced 2014.10.16. Arrival date or base not known yet.

British name the anti-ISIS actions Operation Shader.

Flyvevåbnet (Royal Danish Air Force (RDAF))

Royal Danish Air Force F-16AM from Esk 727 with serial E-599 taking off (Image © Marcel Burger)
Royal Danish Air Force F-16AM from Esk 727 with serial E-599 taking off (Image © Marcel Burger)
  • 7 General Dynamics (Lockheed Martin) F-16AMs from Skrydstrup AB. Since 2014.10.05, but grounded until 16 October due to diplomatic clearance blunder
  • 1 Lockheed C-130J Hercules, transport of supplies and ammunition to Kurdish forces. Was based at RAF Base Akrotiri on Cyprus from 28 October to Mid-September. Continued support for the Iraqi operations even into 2015.

The F-16s are operating from Ahmed Al Jaber Airbase in Kuwait since 2014.10.04.

Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force (AMI))

An Italian Air Force KC-767 during a mission over Iceland (Image © Cpt. Jiri Cermak / Czech Air Force)
An Italian Air Force KC-767 during a mission over Iceland (Image © Cpt. Jiri Cermak / Czech Air Force)
  • 4 Panavia Tornados, tactical recon; operating from Ahmed Al Jaber Airbase in Kuwait. Since 2014.11.22
  • 1 Boeing KC-767A, in-flight refuelling; operating from Ahmed Al Jaber Airbase in Kuwait since 2014.10.26
  • 2 General Atomics MQ-1 Predators, attack / recon drone

Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF)

Want more desert camo, but with a splash of colour? This Tornado form Saudi Arabia provides just that. Saudi Arabia bought 134 Tornadoes, of which 96 were of the IDS-version, seen here. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Want more desert camo, but with a splash of colour? This Tornado form Saudi Arabia provides just that. Saudi Arabia bought 134 Tornadoes, of which 96 were of the IDS-version, seen here. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
  • 4 or more Panavia Tornado IDS and/or Boeing F-15S Strike Eagles; during start bombing campaign on targets in Syria in Summer 2014
  • Eurofighter EF2000 Typhoon multi-role fighters; according to some sources using Paveway IV precision guided weapons in February 2015, marking the combat debut of the weapon on this aircraft type

Other air forces (in order of appearance during the campaign)

A Jordan F-16, bought from surplus Belgium inventory. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A Jordanian F-16, bought from surplus Belgium inventory. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
  • United Arab Emirates Air Force (UAEAF); at least 6 Lockheed Martin F-16s and/or Dassault Mirage 2000s; during start of bombing campaign on targets in Syria and continuing strikes afterwards. The UAE suspended its contribution in December 2014 after a Royal Jordanian Air Force pilot was captured, but resumed ops from a Jordanian airbase with at least 6 F-16E/Fs from February 2015.
  • Royal Bahraini Air Force (RBAF); at least 3 Lockheed Martin F-16C/Ds; during start of bombing campaign on targets in Syria
  • Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF); at least 3 General Dynamics (Lockheed Martin) F-16AMs; operating from As Shaheed Muwaffaq al Salti Airbase in Al Azraq; during start of bombing campaign on targets in Syria and in follow up actions. One RJAF F-16 crashed or was shot down over Syria in December 2014, with ISIS forces capturing its pilot.
  • Belgian Air Component (BAC); 6 General Dynamics (Lockheed Martin) F-16AMs from Florennes AB; operating from Jordan, likely As Shaheed Muwaffaq al Salti Airbase in Al Azraq; since 2014.10.01. The Belgians named their involvement Operation Desert Falcon.
  • Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF / KLu); 8 General Dynamics (Lockheed Martin) F-16AMs (4 from Volkel AB, 4 from Leeuwarden AB); operating from Jordan, likely As Shaheed Muwaffaq al Salti Airbase in Al Azraq, since 2014.10.03
  • US Army (USAR): Boeing (McDonnell Douglas) AH-64D Apache; operating out of Baghdad International Airport officially as additional protection for the US Embassy. Might have carried out strikes against ISIS in the 2nd week of October 2014
  • Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF): possible 4-8 McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom IIs and maybe up to five Sukhoi Su-24MKs (Fencer); semi-confirmed by Teheran and operating apparently on request by the Iraqi government. NOT part of US-led operation Inherent Resolve. At least one operation on 2014.11.24. IRIAF pilots are also involved on operating Iraqi Air Force Su-25s.
  • Royal Moroccon Air Force: 6 Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Fighting Falcon multi-role fighters, based in the United Arab Emirates. Since 2014.11.26.
  • Turkish Air Force: 3 Lockheed Martin F-16C Fighting Falcon multi-role fighters, operating out of Diyarbakir Airbase. First strike 2014.07.24, target in Syria.

© 2014 – 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger and Elmer van Hest

A Belgian Air Component General Dynamics (Lockheed-Martin) F-16AM Fighting Falcon just after take-off from its homebase Kleine Brogel, flying with 10 Wing (Image © Marcel Burger)
A Belgian Air Component Lockheed Martin F-16AM Fighting Falcon just after take-off (Image © Marcel Burger)
An Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force F-4E Phantom II taking off (Image (CC) Shahram Sharifi)
An Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force F-4E Phantom II taking off (Image (CC) Shahram Sharifi)

Raptor debut: strong message and operational test

The Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor has made its combat debut during air strikes over Syria against the forces of the so-called Islamic State (named ISIS or ISIL), according to news reports and a Pentagon briefing on Tuesday 23 September. The stealthy fighter was used next to Lockheed Martin F-16s, Boeing F/A-18 Hornets and Rockwell B-1B bombers. Also, the air forces of Jordan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates joined in the raids, say sources.

>>> See our full overview of Air Assets deployed against ISIS here >>>

The F-22s very likely operate from the United Arab Emirates, that saw deployment of the type earlier. The operational debut in the skies over Syria may come as a surprise, as the F-22 was initially designed to be an air-superiority fighter. However, the use of the F-22 sends a strong message to Syrian president Assad to not use his still quite potent air force to interfere with operations. Syria has MiG-25 Foxbat and MiG-29 Fulcrum air-to-air capable fighters at its disposal, among others.

A Jordan F-16, bought from surplus Belgium inventory. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Amongst the aircraft involved in the 23 September 2014 airstrikes in Syria are reportedly also a number of Jordan F-16s like the one in this picture (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Russian radar
The debut – during which the F-22 according to the Pentagon “delivered GPS-guided munitions targeted at a command-and-control centre in a building” – also gives the US Air Force the chance the see how the Raptor handles the Russia-supplied radar installations in Syria. This information may come in handy in light of growing tensions elsewhere in the world. It is the most realistic test scenario imaginable.

The F-22 Raptor prototype first flew in 1990, followed by the first production aircraft in 1997. The type reached Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in 2005. The US originally set eyes on hundreds of F-22 Raptors, but finally settled for 187 aircraft, as the price tag of about 400 million USD per aircraft was deemed too steep.

The combat debut of the Raptor is reminiscent of the debut of the F-117A Nighthawk in 1989 in operation Just Cause over Panama. That debut also served one true purpose: here I am. Be aware.

© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editors Elmer van Hest and Marcel Burger

First ISIS/ISIL airstrike Syria, how it went down

(According to the US Pentagon, US Navy, released US DoD imagery and sources in the Persian Gulf countries, including the Bahraini government)
LATEST UPDATE 26 SEPTEMBER 2014

  • 01:30 UTC: 1st wave of attack by US Navy guided-missile cruiser CG-58 USS Philippine Sea and guided-missile destroyer DDG-51 USS Arleigh Burke, cruising in the northern Arabian Gulf, launch 47 Tomahawk cruise missiles against targets in eastern and northern Syria. Targets around Aleppo and Ar-Raqqah, mostly at Khorasan Group compounds
  • 02:00 UTC: 2nd wave of attack executed from several air bases (which ones were not disclosed) by US Air Force F-22s, F-15Es, F-16s, B-1Bs and drones against targets in Northern Syria. Some of the F-16s were equipped in a standard SEAD lay-out: sporting AGM-88 HARM missiles to kill any Syrian air defence radar that might be turned on, and AIM-120s plus AIM-9s to aim at any Syrian aircraft approaching
  • 05:00 UTC: 3rd wave of attack by F/A-18s that launched from the aircraft carrier CVN 77 USS George H.W. Bush in the northern Arabian Gulf (aka Persian Gulf), accompanied by one or more EA-6B Prowlers to suppress and counter Syrian radar guided defences in case they would be turned on, regionally based USAF F-16s and a big number of undisclosed aircraft from “coalition partners” (the Arabian countries) against targets in eastern Syria, including ISIS training camps and vehicles near Dayr az-Zawr. According to sources within the Middle East amongst the aircraft involved were at least 4 Royal Saudi Air Force Tornado IDS fighter-bombers and/or F-15S Strike Eagles, at least 4 United Arab Emirates F-16s and/or Mirage 2000s, at least 3 Royal Bahraini Air Force F-16C/Ds and some Royal Jordanian Air Force F-16AM/BMs.
A F/A-18E Super Hornet, attached to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 31, and a F/A-18F Super Hornet, attached to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 213, prepare to launch from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) to conduct strike missions against ISIL/ISIS targets. (Image © Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Robert Burck/USN)
A F/A-18E Super Hornet, attached to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 31, prepares to launch from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) to conduct strike missions against ISIL/ISIS targets.
(Image © Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Robert Burck/USN)
An F-22 Raptor displays its weapons bays on 26 July 2014 during the Arctic Thunder Open House at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska (Image © Staff Sgt. Jared Becker / USAF)
An F-22 Raptor displays its weapons bays on 26 July 2014 during the Arctic Thunder Open House at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska (Image © Staff Sgt. Jared Becker / USAF)