The Daily Beast has obtained access to photos of the stealthy Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor’s combat debut over Syria on September 22.
Four of the $150 million stealth fighters, which are assigned to the 1st Fighter Wing’s 27th Fighter Squadron, took part in the overnight raid. The strike package took off at night from the Al Dhafra air base in the United Arab Emirates and landed there in the early hours of September 23.
The jets that took part in the raid are among the newest of the 187 production Raptors—the last of which was delivered to the U.S. Air Force in May 2012—and are normally based at Joint Base Langley-Eustis.
With a recent upgrade called Increment 3.1, the F-22 adds the ability to attack ground targets with eight 250-pound satellite-guided bombs, make highly detailed photo-quality maps of the ground, and electronically attack enemy radars.
However, the Raptors just dropped 1,000-pound satellite-guided weapons during their first combat mission. The F-22’s powerful array of sensors was one of the primary reasons the Air Force chose to use the jet for the mission.
Primarily designed as an air superiority fighter, the F-22 has a ceiling of 60,000 feet and can cruise at greater than Mach 1.8 without fuel-guzzling afterburners. The jet is “redlined” at Mach 2, but structurally it can reach a maximum speed of Mach 2.25.