The United States Air Force is sending more than two dozen F-22 stealth fighters this month for an exercise in the western Pacific, an unusually large deployment of the powerful jet, which analysts say could give a potential adversary a shot in China. Sends a strong message.
The Pacific Air Force in Hawaii said this week that about 25 F-22s Raptors from the Hawaii Air National Guard and from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, will deploy to Guam and the Tinian Islands for Operation Pacific Iron 2021 this month.
“Never have we seen so many Raptors deployed together in an area of Pacific Air Force operations,” said Pacific Air Force Commander General Ken Wilsbach.
The F-22s are fifth-generation fighter jets, the world’s most advanced fighter aircraft, incorporating stealth technologies to give their pilots a detailed view of the combat location and on-board sensor systems to off-board information systems. connect with. US F-35s are another example.
Carl Schuster, a Hawaii-based defense analyst and former director, said deploying large numbers of F-22s for the exercise sends an urgent message to China at a time when relations are strained at Pacific flashpoints such as Taiwan and the South China Sea. Operations at the Joint Intelligence Center of the US Pacific Command. He said a typical F-22 deployment consists of six to 12 aircraft.
“The Pacific Air Force is demonstrating that it can theater deploy fifth-generation aircraft in less time than (China),” he said.
The Chinese Air Force has about 20 to 24 operational fifth-generation fighters, Schuster said, but added that Beijing’s capabilities were improving rapidly.
According to Air Force data, there are approximately 180 F-22s in the US Air Force fleet, although only half are mission capable due to maintenance requirements. So the US will send about 25% of mission F-22s to the Pacific Iron exercise.