F-22 makes its debut against ISIS

The Air Force's F-22 “Raptor” fighter jets made their combat debut on Monday in striking terrorist targets in Syria. 

The strikes were launched against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and al Qaeda. 


The F-22s took part in the second of three waves of bombings by U.S. and allied aircraft, along with F-15s, F-16s and the B-1 bombers and drones. 

They hit targets in northern Syria, including ISIS headquarters, training camps, barracks and combat vehicles. 

At a Pentagon briefing Tuesday, a Pentagon official showed off pictures displaying the precision of the strikes, including by F-22s, which can fly undetected by radar at high altitudes.  

Army Lt. Gen. Bill Mayville, director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, showed reporters a picture of an ISIS command and control building in Raqaa, Syria.

“This strike was the first time the F-22 was used in a combat role. The flight of the F-22s delivered GPS-guided munitions — precision munitions targeting only the right side of the building,” Mayville said. 

Production of the F-22, which has sophisticated sensors that allows it to track, identify and carry out strikes without being detected, has been rife with controversy.

In 2012, two whistleblowers revealed a problem with the jet's oxygen system that led to suffocation-like symptoms for pilots — possibly leading to the death of one pilot in 2010. The fleet was grounded in 2012 until the problem was identified and fixed.

The plane is also one of the U.S.'s most expensive weapons programs, at $67 billion. Each plane is estimated to cost  $143 million, according to the Air Force.
The U.S. is no longer producing the F-22s. Congress voted to phase out production of the F-22s in 2009 in favor of the F-35 fighter jet. 

Defense officials labeled the strikes a success.

“It was through the careful planning and coordination of U.S. Central Command's combined arms operations — combined air operations center located in the region that these strikes were successful with minimal collateral damage," Mayville said.