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F-22 Raptor: The Stealth Fighter That Can Enforce a Ukraine No-Fly Zone

F-22
F-22 Raptor. Image Credit: Lockheed Martin.

If NATO Declared a “No Fly Zone” – The F-22 Could be the Aircraft to Enforce It: There is little chance that NATO would declare a “no-fly zone” over Ukraine. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg made it clear, “We are not part of this conflict” – even as there are reports that the United States Air Force’s Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II’s have been operating in full stealth mode over Eastern Europe as part of the NATO air policing drills in the region.

Instead of going full “stealth,” former President Donald Trump joked earlier this month to top Republican National Committee donors that the U.S. should “ put the Chinese flag” on its F-22 fighter jets and “bomb the s***” out of Russia, and added “then we say ‘China did it.’ Then they start fighting with each other, and we sit back and watch.”

While Trump’s comments received plenty of laughs and some cheers, there have been suggestions that if a no-fly zone were in the cards, the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor could be the aircraft to enforce it. A squadron of the fifth-generation stealth fighters has been deployed to the UAE to thwart drone and missile attacks launched by Hothi rebels.

“F-22 Raptors arrived at Al Dhafra Air Base, in the UAE, today as part of a multifaceted demonstration of U.S. support after a series of attacks throughout January threatened U.S. and Emirati armed forces stationed at the host installation,” U.S. Air Forces Central Command tweeted last month.

F-22: This Raptor Has Claws!

The single-seat, twin-engine, all-weather stealth tactical fighter first entered service in 2005, and has been steadily updated. Even today, it is widely regarded as the most dominant fighter in the world.

The F-22 Raptor is respected for its dogfighting ability and air-to-air maneuverability attributes, especially when compared with any other potential rival. The Raptor is solely operated by the United States Air Force, as it was developed as part of the service’s Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) program two decades ago as an air superiority fighter that could also be capable of ground attack, electronic warfare and signals intelligence.

Powered by two Pratt & Whitney turbofan engines and is capable of reaching speeds of Mach 2 (1,534 mph/2,469 kph). The F-22 has a ceiling of 50,000 feet (15 kilometers) and a range of 1,841 miles (2,962 km) without refueling.

The Air Force had originally planned to buy a total of 750 of the F-22s, but the program was cut short to 187 operational aircraft, in addition to the eight test models that had been produced. The high costs of the program, as well as a lack of clear air-to-air missions due to delays in Russian and Chinese fighter programs along with a ban on exports, resulted in the Air Force’s scaling back. The last F-22 Raptor was delivered in 2012.

F-22s to the UAE

While Russia massed its forces on the Ukrainian border prior to launching its unprovoked attack last month, the U.S. Air Force deployed several aircraft to Eastern Europe.

As TheAviationGeekClub.com reported, that included F-16s to Romania, F-15s to Poland and F-35s to Germany.

Yet, the F-22 went to the UAE instead.

One factor could be that the Raptors’ presence would show a commitment to America’s Middle Eastern partners, a point noted by the U.S. Air Force’s Mideast command.

“The unparalleled capabilities of the F-22 in a variety of missions, as well as its ability to interoperate with joint, coalition, allied and partner forces make it ideally suited to serve in the Middle East region during this critical time,” said Lt. Gen. Greg Guillot, 9th AF (AFCENT) commander, via a statement last month. “The Raptors’ presence will bolster already strong partner nation defenses and puts destabilizing forces on notice that the U.S. and our partners are committed to enabling peace and stability in the region.”

Why the F-22 Isn’t in Europe?

Dario Leone of TheAviationGeekClub offers a solid argument for why the F-22 would be the aircraft to enforce a NATO no-fly zone – and cited commentary Air Combat Analyst Connor Hall, who suggested that “8-12 Raptors could sanitize the skies over Ukraine within an hour.”

While that fact may be true, such sweeping of the skies would certainly find us fully locked into a war – likely a nuclear one – with Russia. The F-15s and F-16s are meant to be a deterrent. The same holds true of the F-35, which could just as easily “sanitize” the skies.

Moreover, if NATO finds itself at war with Russia, and we must continue to hope it doesn’t come to that, the F-22s are actually well-positioned to do significant damage to Russian targets in Syria and the Mediterranean already.

But there is another point to consider.

F-22

U.S. Air Force Maj. Paul Lopez, F-22 Demo Team commander, performs a high speed pass maneuver during the Fort Worth Alliance air show in Fort Worth, Texas, Oct. 19, 2019. Representing the U.S. Air Force and Air Combat Command, the F-22 Demo Team travels to 25 air shows a season to showcase the performance and capabilities of the world’s premier 5th-generation fighter. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Sam Eckholm)

F-22 Raptor

U.S. Air Force Maj. Paul Lopez, F-22 Demo Team commander, performers aerial maneuvers July 14, 2019, at the “Mission Over Malmstrom” open house event on Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. The team flies at airshows around the globe, performing maneuvers that demonstrate the capabilities of the fifth-generation fighter aircraft. The two-day event, featured performances by aerial demonstration teams, flyovers, and static displays. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob M. Thompson)

F-22

A 1st Fighter Wing’s F-22 Raptor from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., pulls into position to accept fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker with the 756th Air Refueling Squadron, Joint Base Andrews Naval Air Facility, Md., off the east coast on May 10, 2012. The first Raptor assigned to the Wing arrived Jan. 7, 2005. This aircraft was allocated as a trainer, and was docked in a hanger for maintenance personnel to familiarize themselves with its complex systems. The second Raptor, designated for flying operations, arrived Jan. 18, 2005. On Dec. 15, 2005, Air Combat Command commander, along with the 1 FW commander, announced the 27th Fighter Squadron as fully operational capable to fly, fight and win with the F-22.

The F-22 may be a fine aircraft, but it should be remembered that NATO members increasingly operate the F-35. The Raptor isn’t exactly “yesterday’s news,” but production ended a decade ago, while production is ramping up on the F-35.

The United States wants to see more allies and partners adopt the Lightning II, so sending the F-22 to Europe wouldn’t be the right message.

No-Fly Zone

US Air Force F-35 Stealth Fighter.

Now a Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military hardware, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes.

Written By

Expert Biography: A Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,000 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.

13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Rich

    March 22, 2022 at 5:35 pm

    The F22 is without a doubt the premier fighter in the world. Assuming open rules of engagement there is nothing that any potential enemy has in their inventory that can touch it. In training battles, a single F22 “shot down” 5 F15’s that went up against it. A number of the Eagles were “shot down” before the F22’s presence was even known. It’s been said that the Su-57 is more maneuverable, but the Sukhoi will be deleted before it even realizes the need to do so.

  2. Alex

    March 23, 2022 at 2:52 am

    I am sure Russia will be very pleased if the F-22 appears in the skies over Ukraine, because it will give them excellent opportunities to test their S-400s and more advanced SU-57s. However, this is unlikely to happen, because even one downed F-22 will humiliate the United States for many years.

  3. Lee

    March 23, 2022 at 5:40 am

    Alex go Bork off on some vodka you and pi$$ant Dimitry you worthless pos scum. The US would kick your a$$ from here to Timbuktu!

  4. Alex

    March 23, 2022 at 8:06 am

    Only a stupid, uneducated chauvinist can communicate with strangers like that. But here I see a real Bandera Nazi. I hope Americans and other Westerners will pay attention to how you communicate. Better yet, let them see how you behave in European countries now. Those who gave you temporary shelter. There are many videos where the people of these countries are already sick of you. You showed your animal essence there. And that’s great. But I advise the inhabitants of Western countries to listen to the American Scott Ritter.

  5. Rich

    March 23, 2022 at 5:21 pm

    Alex, regardless of how effective the SU-57 is, Russia doesn’t have enough of them in service to make a difference. The latest figures call out a total of 14 flyable aircraft, 10 of which are testbeds. Secondly, Russia does not yet possess the logistics/maintenance capability in operational units to keep these planes flying. So at present, the SU-57 is a non-factor. Besides, it has been called a generation 4.5 fighter as it doesn’t possess the stealth characteristics of a true Gen 5 aircraft.

  6. Kwuteg

    March 23, 2022 at 6:06 pm

    Poor Alex. Did not the SU57 turn and run in Syria? Isn’t it true the SU57 was unaware the F22 was even there before the American radioed it?. Honestly the Saab Gripen, Dassault Raphale and the EuroFighter would more than handle the miniscule amount of SU57s Putin could deploy. And wouldn’t Sweden look mighty of it cleared the skies of Putins war criminal air pirates??!!

  7. Ian

    March 23, 2022 at 7:40 pm

    Most of making comments about the su57 are DUMB beyond belief. The stories you come up with are as real as the ghost of kyiv. The f22 will wreak havoc, anywhere it goes, no doubt. However there WILL be losses and it WILL be humiliating. It’s not Iraq, it’s not Syria. Why in the hell would we risk our best pilots and best aircraft for Ukraine? I strongly disagree with this approach. We should be pressuring Ukraine to negotiate, because they have zero chance. Instead we send them weapons to go kill themselves with.

  8. Justin Paul

    March 23, 2022 at 8:43 pm

    Bad Idea. I’m sure the F22 would perform very well but why chance it.

  9. William Craddock

    March 23, 2022 at 11:17 pm

    Our Stealth Strategic and Tactical assets such as the B-2/F-35’s, possibly coordinated with our CIA’s SAD/Special Activities Division, could easily prosecute clandestine and effective nightime strikes against Russia’s invading air and ground assets, that would’ve caused mass casualties upon the invaders, ending their rampage weeks ago, leaving Putin basically clueless as to who he could blame. Unless you have the chicken shit Biden Administration, with foer VP Biden under Pres. Obama being against the successful Bin Laden raid. It would’ve prevented the destruction of Ukrainean cities, reduced to rubble, plus prevented the unprecedented worldwide refugee crisis, indirectly caused by Biden’s atypical timid and risk averse cowardice.

  10. William Craddock

    March 23, 2022 at 11:18 pm

    Our Stealth Strategic and Tactical assets such as the B-2/F-35’s, possibly coordinated with our CIA’s SAD/Special Activities Division, could easily prosecute clandestine and effective nightime strikes against Russia’s invading air and ground assets, that would’ve caused mass casualties upon the invaders, ending their rampage weeks ago, leaving Putin basically clueless as to who he could blame. Unless you have the chicken shit Biden Administration, with former VP Biden under Pres. Obama being against the successful Bin Laden raid. It would’ve prevented the destruction of Ukrainean cities, reduced to rubble, plus prevented the unprecedented worldwide refugee crisis, indirectly caused by Biden’s atypical timid and risk averse cowardice.

  11. Rich

    March 24, 2022 at 7:49 am

    Ian. I never said we should employ F22’s in Ukraine. I merely compared the performance of the 2 aircraft. As far as the “stories” a quick Google search will confirm what I posted. Perhaps you should take a few minutes to confirm what you post.

  12. Ian

    March 24, 2022 at 9:25 pm

    Just like that huh william? It’s that easy? You should let the Pentagon know.

  13. Ian

    March 25, 2022 at 11:24 am

    Everything on Google is true right? You’ll never find anything on there that’s false. You can also find stories of American fighters turning away from su35s. Of course someone is going to turn away. They’re not in Syria to fight each other and declare war. It’s just a dumb thing to base anything off of.

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