HILL AIR FORCE BASE — The F-22 made its big combat debut in Syria last month and continues missions in the region now, but military officials say the aircraft’s launch has had little impact at Hill Air Force Base.
In late September, U.S. military forces executed a series of strikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and other terrorist targets in Syria. The first day of strikes came in three separate waves that targeted ISIS training camps, headquarters, command and control facilities, logistical areas, armored vehicles and leadership.
The F-22 Raptor completed its first official combat mission during the first day of strikes, launching from nearby bases in the region against targets in northern Syria that included ISIS headquarters, training camps barracks and combat vehicles.
The next generation Raptor, which has a total program cost of more than $79 billion, went operational in late 2005, but was not used in conflicts in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Since the initial attacks, the F-22 has continued to be used, but only for specific missions, including intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations.
Hill Air Force Base’s Ogden Air Logistics Complex performs all of the F-22 depot maintenance work, ensuring the fifth generation, multipurpose fighter remains ready to answer the call. Currently, the ALC can simultaneously work on up to six F-22s, but a recent decision to relocate workload from Palmdale, Calfornia, will double the workload to 12 by February 2015.
Base officials say the F-22 workload and other operations associated with the jet have remained static since the jet was deployed to Syria.
In a statement sent to the Standard-Examiner, base spokesman Rich Essary said F-22 jets are not flying directly to Syria after repair or maintenance at Hill, nor are they being sent directly to Hill if they should need work after missions in Syria.
“The Ogden Air Logistics Complex performs depot repair, modification and maintenance support for the F-22 Raptor, and when the work is complete, the aircraft are returned to the owning unit,” the statement read.
It’s been reported that F-22s have been stationed at Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates, but military officials have declined to say where jets for the mission in Syria were staged, except to say it was somewhere in the Gulf region.
Essary said Hill is not expecting to see any additional F-22 work as a result of the recent combat operations.
The F-22 program office, which is split between Hill and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, is maintaining a close eye on the jet as it performs in Syria, but Essary that’s not out of the norm either.
“Even prior to operations in Syria, the F-22 program office has maintained close contact with Air Combat Command in support of the F-22’s day-to-day mission requirements,” Essary said in the statement. “The program office’s mission is to ensure regular contact with the field units to aid in any required analysis, field support, or make recommendations for inclusions into any subsequent airframe or system sustainment efforts that take place in the Complex at Hill AFB. We continue to proudly do so today.”