Did Politics Keep the F-22 Out of Libya?

Did Politics Keep the F-22 Out of Libya?

Former Air Force ISR chief, Lt. Gen. David Deptula, just isn’t buying the explanation given by Air Force leaders last week that distance is what kept the F-22 Raptor out of Operation Odyssey Dawn.

Instead, political reasons likely kept the most advanced jet on Earth out of the fight, according to Deptula, an early advocate of using the jet to enforce the no-fly zone in Libya. Basically, the F-22’s stealth would have negated much of the official need for coalition help since the jet is almost completely immune to Libya’s ancient air defenses, argues the Deptula, who retired last October.

“Because of the high degree of stealth of the F-22, its supercruise and ISR capabilities, it would not have required the destruction of the Libyan enemy air defense system to operate inside Libyan airspace,” writes Deptula in an email to DoDBuzz. This is especially true “given the make-up of the current Libyan air defenses (predominantly made up of SA-2, 3, 5, and 6s).  Accordingly, F-22s would be free to either engage any Libyan aircraft that took-off, or they could destroy LAF aircraft and/or helicopters on the ground at will.”

Thus, the United States could have knocked out Gadhafi’s air force without touching his air defense network, according to Deptula. This means, the U.S. could have just gone it solo and used the jets to take out Libya’s air force without any international help:

The desired effect of a no fly zone (NFZ) is to keep adversary aircraft from flying–using F-22s that could have been achieved without having to destroy enemy air defenses. That would have obviated the need for any other coalition partner from participating and therefore was not a desirable option politically–ergo a primary rationale for not using F-22s to impose a NFZ in Libya.  Using legacy, non-stealth aircraft, required the suppression/destruction of the Libyan integrated air defense system to proceed with the imposition of a NFZ, but it also allowed for the participation of the multiple nations that made up the coalition.

So by not using the F-22s, the U.S. had an excuse to put together a coalition.

He also acknowledges that threat conditions in the country may not have justified the use of the Raptor, leading to another reason to keep the F-22s at home; basically, the jets were overkill for the mission.

Keep in mind the former fighter pilot knows a thing or two about both the F-22 (he’s long been an advocate of actually using the jets instead of having them simply fly air show routines) and how to take over an enemy’s airspace; he was the joint task force commander for no-fly zone operations over northern Iraq in 1998 and 1999 and served as the principal attack planner for the air component of Operation Desert Storm in 1991.

Deptula also swats down speculation that the Raptor’s inability to use its datalinks to communicate with other jets was a driver behind leaving them behind.

“F-22s can communicate securely just fine with other aircraft,” writes Deptula in response to the notion that the plane’s. “You may be talking about data links, but if you applied that standard (multi-connectivity of all aircraft tied together by common data link) then many of the aircraft flying in the coalition would fail in that ability, also.”

“The bottom line is that the F-22 not deploying to the Libyan conflict was a political decision-not one having anything to do with capability,” adds Deptula.

While the F-22 is “optimized” for air-to-air combat as Air Force Secretary Michael Donley pointed out last week, they can carry two 1,000 pound JDAMs for air-to-ground missions. No, this isn’t nearly as good as a bomber or strike fighters like the F-15E but it still packs a punch and could have hit ground targets.

Still, other jets such as the Strike Eagle and Marine Corps  AV-8B Harrier carry a lot more of the air-to-ground munitions that have been used to chase down Gadhafi’s ground forces. Keeping them in the air unmolested means taking out Libyan air defenses, not just Libyan fighters. Some aviation experts also argue that the F-22s would require nearly as many “enablers” (support aircraft) as legacy fighters to carry out the Libyan mission.

I suspect the truth lies somewhere in between all the arguments laid out recently; the potentially overqualified Raptors would have cost a lot to deploy, might not be as efficient at hitting Gadhafi’s ground targets and would have hurt the justification for building an international coalition.







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Other issues why ?:
1. SECDEF wants to keep justifying his decision to terminate the program.
2. With only 186 left each one is a precious asset that is not worth losing in Lybia due to accident…
3. When you use them in combat other countries may be able to gain intel’ on their true capabilities and limitations (if any). And if one goes down it may compromise sensitive and potentially parishable technology. Again not a necessary risk in Lybia.

These (well 2 & 3 anyway) will also be arguments against using F-35 when and if it finally gets to IOC. It won’t be worth losing a very expensive aircraft that relies on classified levels of stealth technology in the types of conflicts we are in now.

Even so, if the F-22 is as “immune” to legace SAM systems, that same immunity coupled with JDAMs would give it a dynamite SEAD capability — or so the buzz goes.

Especially with JDAMs released at high speed at very high altitude — coupled with stealth, outside the SAM envelope — the F-22 would boost the range of the otherwise unpowered JDAM, and would give any (fixed or stationary) SAM a really, really bad day.

No need for enablers there.

OK, so what?

Ok assuming Deptula is right, and the F-22s can be used in Libya in that way which he says it can be. My question then is, for how long can that rate be sustained? Because if Libya’s air defences reamin untouched, no other aircraft will be risked, therefore the Raptors will have to shoulder the NFZ burden alone?

Simple fix when dealing with F-22As overhead.

Move your own aircraft a few yards over every day.


Because the Raptor is currently flying blind against ground targets and needs something else like a B-2 (which it can not talk stealthily with) to spot targets on the ground for it.

Yes, the Raptor has these nice RF, radar and IR sensors, but what it lacks is the software to show the pilot where the targets are on the ground.

Someday America will have a fifth generation multirole stealth fighter. And when we do, we’re going to take all those fifth generation smarts from the F-35 and use them to replace the CPU boards on the F-22. The alternative of actually finishing the F-22’s software is just too hard and too expensive. (This will include the fancy headgear from the F-35 so that the F-22 has a chance in a dogfight against a 4.5th generation fighter.)

That would work great against fixed air defenses. You would need LJDAMs to hit a mobile SAM system, though. A laser targeting system fitted to the F-22 may compromise its radar signature.

Not getting into the argument of “if” the plane could do the job, there simply is no rpt no justification to take the millions of dollars to fly this plane to where ever in the Med or the UK just to make a political statement by the USAF. I am sure that when the plane is needed it will fly but using it in Libya would be totally unnecessary. Besides it is time to let the NATO group do their job which they seem to be doing quit well.

I think some USAF Generals got their nose out of joint. Sorry fellows your F22 services were not needed. Live with it.

Knock out the ADC and send in the warthogs baby! It’ll be a no walk zone.

That’s what the boots on the ground, er i mean the CIA er i mean uhh someone else is for.

Everything this regime does is politics 1st so it would be no surprise they try to justify their stupid decision to stop production of the F-22 in this little kinetic whatever they call it.

Even so, the man child little barry obama could only accomplished a “coalition” of 14 vs over 40 in Iraq by President Bush.

Which again was the dumb war barry?

And now we have the Toyota 2.0 war gents. With everyone driving civilian trucks so no one knows who the enemy is… it is what it is.

Hey, what a sec. What’s this “US led coalition”??? Wasn’t it France leading the charge with a reluctant US following? How does this story even include discussion of an F-22? Its ridiculous. If we don’t destroy their ground defense, how are we going to build new ones for them later on?

French politicians led the charge while US politicians reluctantly followed. US leadership was afraid that another military incursion into another Muslim nation would appear as another attack against the Islamic world by the Islamic people. When the Arab League asked for the US to intervene, it would give a (possibly false) sense of legitimacy in the eyes of the Islamic world. Also, with the French and British taking leadership, it made the idea of American involvement not as bad.

But still, it was the US military that was commanding the operation early on (which they didn’t want to do either, but was the best equipped for the role) until they could finally hand off the command to NATO (also reluctant to take command). A a day or two ago the US announced that it would end active combat operations, with the offer of performing future combat missions at the request of NATO command. It didn’t take long for NATO command to ask for an extension of US combat operations, so the US is still actively performing combat missions in Libya.

The F-22 Conspiracy theorists are out in force! How about the F-22 is not flying over Libya because the forward deployed assets that the US has are sufficient for the mission! I mean come on, how many US aircraft, no wait, allied aircraft, have been shot down to date? Zero. Clearly the awesome Libyan air defenses were to much for our forces that were already in Europe! Why we even re-routed the Enterprise to Libya to provide more forces (oh wait, didn’t do that either).
Couple of questions:
1. Would you really want a F-22 instead of a multi-mission F-16, F-18, or F-15E with targeting pods (or Rafale for that matter) for this mission? Really?
2. After the first B-2 strikes, have they been used again? After the air defenses are down, a B-1 (which can carry a targeting pod) is a much better aircraft for the mission. An A-10 or a AC-130 are even better in many respects.
3. Aside from the EF-18Gs that were in Iraq (on deployment), how many tactical aircraft were sent to Europe?

The only politics here is by the people advocating sending the F-22!

Yes, we should have used the F-22. As noted in many posts, the ELINT capability of the F-22 is worth it alone. The AESA radar is also a major contributor to situational awareness. I do not think the F-22 was critical to have in the fight, but it doesn’t make much sense keeping it out either. The poblem with having all those multi-mission aircraft — F-15s, F-16s, F-18s… is they are not really fighters if they are trying to do ten other missions. The F-22 shoul alo have been the first to drop bombs as they were the least likely to be noticed. Then the Tomahawks and B-2s, so finally the legacy fighters could go in.

Yes but consider the defensive position. Is it worth giving up some tactical information on the F-22 (even remote chances) so we can use it to drop a bomb on Libya? We wouldn’t have bothered to send F-117s for this sand skirmish.

“The poblem with having all those multi-mission aircraft — F-15s, F-16s, F-18s… is they are not really fighters if they are trying to do ten other missions. The F-22 shoul alo have been the first to drop bombs…”

I think you just contradicted yourself here. Wouldn’t an F-22 dropping bombs then doing CAP missions make it a multi-mission acft?

HELLOOOOO! ANYBODY HOME? Using the F-22 over Libya would have been a waste of a valuable asset. It’s so obviously so that the people continueing to question it should be embarrassed. That this site keeps asking the question…well, I can only conclude that they’re simply interested in eyeballs/dollars (controversey sells afterall).


I’m so glad to see Deptula speak up. Like I said before, the USAF should have used the F22 and the distance thing was a bunch of BS. I served 20yrs in the USAF and deployed within 24hrs from stateside bases before. There is more to this story, too bad the F22 was not deployed so we can see how it functions in a combat arena.

OMG I love this site sometimes… literally nothing you said in this post was true.

Yes, the decision was 100% political. The DoD can barely pay its bills and people want to go through the VERY large expense of deploying the 27th FS across the Atlantic to do little more than play with their new toy? If they had done that people would be screaming about the waste of money for such an overkill. With all respect to General Deptula, you still need to eliminate an enemies ground-to-air capability to enforce a no-fly zone effectively. There’s also the risk of a lucky SA-6 shot while the plane has a weapons bay door open or is at just the right angle to get painted.

To the poster “Henry J Cobb”

You wrote: “Because the Raptor is currently flying blind against ground targets and needs something else like a B-2 (which it can not talk stealthily with) to spot targets on the ground for it. Yes, the Raptor has these nice RF, radar and IR sensors, but what it lacks is the software to show the pilot where the targets are on the ground.”

Does N-O U.S. American, airborne or Space-borne reconnaissance equipment transmit LIVE data (images, coordinates, etc.) to any U.S. American air-to-ground missiles, or to artillery fire computers, etc.? That would be a truly sensational revelation for me! I must admit that I brutally overestimated the U.S. Armed Forces’ capabilities for over 40 years now… Kudos for your Propaganda machine!


Obvious troll is obvious.

Maybe the problem is that there were not enough airframes ready to actually perform in real combat.

How many of the 187 F-22’s are in a fully combat capable configuration versus those only fit for training and air shows?

$420M? Good grief. Why not just zeros if you’re going to pull numbers out the rear sector?

Sorry, not buying it. We don’t need fighters, that’s the whole point. We need aircraft that can be good enough fighters (anything better than an F-4 is probably good enough) if required (i.e. carry sidewinders and AMRAAM) plus carry targeting pods and weapons to destroy tanks and artillery and such like LGBs and Maverick. Thats not the F-22. Is the AESA better for SA than a AWACS? Think an EF-18G might be better for electonic warfare? What air-ground capability against moving targets do you get with an F-22? How about target identification? There is/was/will be no air opposition! none, zip, nada, null A F-16 flying a strike mission can handle it. We did not need the F-22!

JSF is a worthless, in fact a completely worthless Platform. Stealth is Dead thinks to the New Russian SAM IADS. JSF should be scraped immediately. Since 1999 when we lost our first F-117 on foreign soil during the Yugoslavia Campaign, most countries have exploited the stealth technology. In fact the F-117 was retired from Active Service in 2008. They are now sitting at Davis-Monthan AFB in the “Bone-Yard”.

Instead of scraping Stealth Technology the DoD continued on beating a dead horse while listening to Lockheed Marin as well as all the Retired AF Generals that worked this project, then of course went to work for Lockheed to influence the outcome and funding.
We are now stuck with a useless overpriced platform that was designed in the closet with NO Connectivity in the Battlespace, NO internal Air-Air “Gun” Weapon for Close Combat, NO capability to destroy any major target without integrating “Pylons” due to a non-existent “Internal Weapons Bay” (of course this makes the aircraft really non-stealth hanging pylons), NO connectivity to any legacy platform including F-22, NO Engine Inlet protection for RCS, Of course AFTER Burner or Augmenter section for Inferred Detection…. Hummmmmm!!! Let’s continue to purchase these worthless overpriced platforms to keep Lockheed Martin in existence at a whopping $150,000,000.00 + Each!!!

And to all you YEEHAAW!-yelling U.S. patriots: I’m not claiming that your Navy-launched “Tomahawk” salvoes and globetrotting stealth bombers etc. etc. hit NOTHING in Libya, or that the Libyan Airforce is still 100 % intact and shooting up demonstrators, etc. etc., but… why no footage of clear wreckages this time? (Give and take that odd Galeb burning on the runway — because WE heroic French destroyed it, or that convoy of rebel vehicles lost to misidentification *oops* )

With so much (alleged) technological superiority and superior firepower and uncontested air superiority bla bla bla, shouldn’t you theoretically even be able to photograph all your destroyed targets safely from a low-flying helicopter?

You dropped half a billion $ of ordnance, so now I want to see at least a couple of dozen pictures of burning Libyan (not Iraqi!) tanks and planes, and I want to see them now. Otherwise I’ll come up with an outrageous conspiracy theory.

Go with Allen and Freefallingbomb as they’re both correct. I’m not sure about the “outrageous conspiracy theory” though. Are we really that clever? How about just a bunch of dumb decisions?

Cobb is certifiable. The rec.aviation.military newsgroup can chronicle his whoppers over the years.

Will a picture of a burning SA-8 silence your absurd conspiracy theories?

The F-22A Raptor is currently not deployed (on a permanent basis) outside of CONUS/AK/HI. I’m betting that the reasons for that are mostly logistical rather than political, at least for now. The NATO bases in Spain and Italy are already set up for the F-15Es that staged out of RAF Lakenheath (full disclosure: 48th [T]FW is my old unit). Ferrying a squadron of the 1st FW across the Atlantic, just so we could use F-22s in Libya, would have been even more of a political statement than not using them.

If this administration wanted to do something, They would out the air defenses of Gaduafy completely ‚like in the first gulf war, then support the people with A-10’s!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Might be more than meets th eye here about the F-22 aND IT’S SECLUDED OPERATIONS for PR ONLY?????

Aren’t they an air show plane?

I really think its best that the US play a limited role in the Libyan issue. As President Obama pointed out in his speech, the Iraq invasion was very costly. Why risk American Lives so that after Libya is liberated, the factious groups begin fighting each other and the US is caught in the middle as a mediator in a terror filled war for which group will succeed Ghadafi ? If the Libyans have to fight and have to rely on each other, they will have a better feeling of unity afterwards and be much more likely to seek peaceful unity.

The temptation to show off/use the new toys is always there whenever a new fight cranks up. But the problem is that then you show what the new toys can do (or cannot do) to outsiders. And Libya, simply might not be worth that — while having the cover of a cooalition is well worth it.

As a cost and budget analyst, I can certainly attest that there are cost savings involved with creating a coalition that does not put the entire burden — financially or politically — on the US govt. We have enough bad press; we can use the support of “friends” even if they are not good friends, and especially their money.

My bad, looks more like $450M: “The latest “Selected Acquisition Report” from the Defense Department is the most definitive data available on the costs for the F-22. The SAR shows a “Current Estimate” for the F-22 program in “Then-Year” dollars of $64.540 billion, which includes both R&D and procurement. That $64.5 billion has bought a grand total of 184 aircraft.
Do the arithmetic: $64.540/184 = $350.1. Total program unit price for one F-22, what approximates the “sticker price,” is $350 million per copy.” http://​www​.military​.com/​o​p​i​n​i​o​n​/​0​,​1​5​2​0​2​,​1​8​7​7​3​7​,00
“By 2011, the upgrade bill for the F-22 fleet had grown to $16 billion or almost $100 million per aircraft” http://​en​.wikipedia​.org/​w​i​k​i​/​L​o​c​k​h​e​e​d​_​M​a​r​t​i​n​_​F​-22

SA-21 GROWLER / S400 Triumph Long Range TABM/SAM

OBVIOUS TOLL! Toll roads built and paved in our sons and daughters blood as self-paid rent-a-cops for NATO’s new world order. Libya was one of the last 5 countries without a central bank tied to the global elite. WE HAVE NO BUSINESS THERE. I usually ignore your like … but, NOT — disabled Army Veteran, 29years, WOFT. I agree with your comment “waste of a valuable asset” — and, anything we do there is. Have we, or NATO/UN collected the tolls on oil and other “assets” coming out of our “democratized’ zones? Please, learn your geopolitics and then come back — NATO is not there to “protect” civilians. Out.

Why do I have the feeling that freefallingbomb and Allen James are the same person?

If you can pull your head out of your @$$, you might find some footage from Libya

dear PW:

“new fight cranks up” (toys) … Who’s “fight” is it?

do ya fhink if the militia took down a corrupt govt here in the “U.S.A” Inc., we’d get NATO/UN “no-fly” zones?

apg’s for being ipc, but the UAE is sfbrains

I think we should have 600 F22s

WORD to the lodgers — ‘course y’all knew Ghadaffi was a high Mason?

The first thing I read that I agree with.

False. They have deployed to UAE and Guam.

honestly i think that the engineers of f22 have already noticed that F22s have a vital problem on their oxygen systems so then they reported to White House.But at the same time war begun thoughout Libya​.As a result F22s were not able to have their maiden fight.But i believ e that as long as the engineers keep concerating on dealing with the problem,F22 will be able to soar through again​.Be confident my fellow America!

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