F-22 Raptors assigned to the 1st Fighter Wing at JB Langley-Eustis, Va., and deployed to the Persian Gulf region, took out an ISIS command and control center in Ar Raqqah, Syria, Monday night, marking the first time the fifth generation fighters have been used in combat, confirmed Air Force and Defense Department officials. Joint Staff Director of Operations Army Lt. Gen. William Mayville told reporters Tuesday the F-22s used GPS-aided munitions to target the command and control facility located in northern Syria, about 75 miles from the Turkish border. Mayville displayed before-and-after photos of the target building, explaining that the F-22s were successful in destroying only the one end that targeteers wanted to hit. Mayville said US Central Command’s combined air and space operations center chose the platforms used in the attack based on “what was available” in the region. The stealthy F-22s are principally intended for air superiority, but also have an attack capability. Officials familiar with the program told Air Force Magazine the Raptors involved in the strikes dropped 1,000-pound Joint Direct Attack Munitions. USAF F-22s are capable of carrying two 1,000-pound JDAMs. Some also are equipped to carry eight Small Diameter Bombs, though officials said the ones operating in the Middle East are not. Mayville said every effort was made to minimize collateral damage in the overnight airstrikes, noting DOD is “unaware” of any civilian casualties resulting from the attacks. Officials declined to release the exact number of F-22s involved in the strikes, citing operational security concerns.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.