U.S. Markets close in 2 hrs 28 mins

All These F-22 Raptors Went into the Sky Simultaneously. The Reason Is China.

David Axe

David Axe

Security,

Billions of dollars in the sky.

All These F-22 Raptors Went into the Sky Simultaneously. The Reason Is China.

The Air Force in all possesses no more than 183 F-22s. Concentrating the roughly 120 combat-coded jets -- those with the latest software and weapons -- into five front-line squadrons instead of six actually has helped the Air Force to better maintain the complex jets.

A U.S. Air Force wing in Alaska managed to launch 24 F-22 Raptor stealth fighters plus an E-3 radar plane and a C-17 transport, all in quick succession.

(This first appeared several weeks ago.)

The dramatic "elephant walk" at Elmendorf Air Force Base was more than an impressive photo-op. It showed off much of the new, bigger F-22 force at the base, underscored the resident 3rd Wing's apparently improving maintenance capabilities and underscored the Air Force's evolving strategy for deploying F-22s and other planes in self-sustaining small groups.

The Elmendorf elephant walk took place on March 26, 2019 during the Polar Force war game. "This two-week exercise gives squadrons an opportunity to demonstrate their abilities to forward-deploy and deliver overwhelming combat air power," the base stated.

The two dozen F-22s that participated in the mass take-off apparently account for around half of the Raptors that the 3rd Wing's two fighter squadrons operate.

The 3rd Wing in late 2018 possessed just 42 Raptors. After a hurricane devastated Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida in October of that year, the Air Force began distributing that base's 55 F-22s to other facilities. Elmendorf got at least six F-22s from Tyndall's front-line 95th Fighter Squadron.

The 43rd Fighter Squadron, a training unit at Tyndall, temporarily set up shop with 28 F-22s at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. The Air Force in late March 2019 announced that those jets permanently would relocate to Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, pending Congressional approval.

Langley, which was home to two front-line F-22 squadrons, also took in some of the ex-95th Fighter Squadron Raptors, as did the Air National Guard wing at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii.

The Air Force in all possesses no more than 183 F-22s. Concentrating the roughly 120 combat-coded jets -- those with the latest software and weapons -- into five front-line squadrons instead of six actually has helped the Air Force to better maintain the complex jets.

The Air Force never had enough Raptors to equip six squadrons each with at least 24 planes. Twenty-four is the magic number, by the Air Force's reasoning. Since fighters often operate in four-plane formations, 24-plane units can launch more sorties than, say, an 18-plane squadron can do.

Moreover, a squadron typically can manage 24 planes as easily as it can manage 18 planes. Thus a unit with more jets makes more efficient use of its manpower. "Larger, traditional Air Force squadrons and deployable units provide a better balance of equipment and personnel," the Government Accountability Office explained.

Read original article