This story, originally published April 14, has been updated with additional information.
F-22 Raptors from the Hawaii are back from a six-month deployment to the Middle East.
The stealth jets and more than over 200 active-duty and Air National Guard airmen from the Air National Guard's 199th Fighter Squadron and 154th Maintenance Squadron, and the active-duty 19th Fighter Squadron and 15th Maintenance Squadron were conducting being used for operations against the Islamic State.
The stealth jets and over 200 active-duty and Air National Guard airmen from the 199th Fighter Squadron,19th Fighter Squadron, along with their maintenance squadrons, were being used for operations against the Islamic State.
The Hawaiian Raptors are made up of F-22 pilots from the 199th Fighter Squadron and the Active-duty 19th Fighter Squadron and are supported by the Hawaii Air National Guard's 154th Maintenance Squadron and the active-duty 15th Maintenance Squadron.
The fighters "successfully struck a number of high-value ISIS ... (also known as Daesh or ISIL) targets," according to a DVIDs release. Earlier reports suggest that six jets from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam were flying out of Al Dhafra air base in the United Arab Emirates.
So has the F-22 left the fight?
"The F-22 remains in theater," Air Forces Central Command spokesman Lt. Col. Chris Karns told Air Force Times Thursday.
"The F-22 offers a precision capability and remains available to the Coalition and is directly involved in the fight against Daesh" Karns said in an email, using the Pentagon's alternative name for the militant group.
"Its stealth, speed, agility, and situational awareness, combined with long-range air-to-air and air-to ground precision weaponry, makes it a valuable capability for the Coalition team. It enables the air coalition to operate in hostile airspace against current and emerging air and ground threats."
Aircraft often come at the request of combatant commanders, another defense official told Air Force Times. It is possible that in a few months the AOR may see a surge in one type of aircraft over another, depending on what is needed.
For example, F-16s and 300 airmen from the 480th Fighter Squadron and 480th Aircraft Maintenance Unit deployed last week to "provide close air support and dynamic targeting operations in support of Operation Inherent Resolve," according to an Air Force news release said in a release.
The F-16 flies about a third of the Air Force's sorties over Iraq and Syria.
The F-22, however, flies seldom in comparison to its manned and unmanned counterparts. It has also only struck two percent of all Air Force airstrikes, according to an AFCENT sortie and strike breakdown.
The U.S. Air Force is using five manned and three unmanned aircraft for its missions in support of the war on Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria. A look at how each is being employed
Photo Credit: Air Force
Much more than just a fighter, "they are flying sensor-shooters," David Deptula, the dean of the Mitchell Institute of Aerospace Power Studies, told Air Force Times last month. "We will value them much more for their ability to penetrate and operate in contested airspace, collect information and then rapidly move that information back to the decision makers than perhaps their ability to shoot missiles or drop bombs," the retired Air Force lieutenant general said.
"This has been [made] manifest by the F-22 and its use [over] Syria today," Deptula said, alluding to its work against the Islamic State group. , which Pentagon leaders consistently tout in the theater as using high-tech sensors.
"It's been valued in Syria, not because it has shot down any enemy airplanes, but because it is acting as an information vacuum cleaner and then taking that information and passing it to the rest of the force, dramatically increasing its situational awareness," he continued. "They're acting as quarterbacks because of their information collection."
Oriana Pawlyk covers deployments, cyber, Guard/Reserve, uniforms, physical training, crime and operations in the Middle East and Europe for Air Force Times. She was the Early Bird Brief editor in 2015. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.