US Air Force Advanced Tactical Fighters F-22 Raptor jets proved unable to effectively track the Russian Aerospace Forces jets in Syria, a US 95th Reconnaissance Squadron commander stationed at UAE al-Dhafra air base told Aviation Week.
The unnamed commander noted that as the encirclement around ISIS grows narrower, Russian jets tend to appear near the US-led coalition jets. During these encounters, the coalition forces have to determine where did it come from and whom it belongs to on the spot. According to the commander, F-22 does not have the infrared and optic capability to allow that during nighttime, unlike the Fifth Generation F-35 jets and the Fourth Generation F-15 jets.
He also mentioned that F-22 are unable to transfer data through the Link 16 tactical data exchange network used by other US jets. This results in F-22 pilots having to report visual information on the radio.
F-22 has one more negative compared to F-35. F-22s lack helmet-mounted displays. The commander said that he often had to actively look around in order to find the other plane, finding himself looking where he just had been, instead of seeing on his display where he was exactly.
The commander admitted that the situation in Syria requires fast response times compared to the US Air Force drills and general tactics used by the US military.
Speaking of encounters with Russian jets, the squadron commander told Aviation Week that US pilots tried several times to contact Russian pilots using special communication channels, but they did not usually respond. There is no possible way to determine whether they do not use the frequency at all, or they just decided not to respond, according to the commander.
The F-22 is the first Fifth Generation Fighter jet in the world. It was employed by the US Air Force in 2005, but it stopped being manufactured since 2011 in favor of F-35 jets. Overall less than two hundred F-22 were made.