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.

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