Pentagon: F-22s used in combat for first time in Syria

F-22 stealth fighter jets belonging to the U.S. Air Force move to take off at a U.S. air force base in Osan, south of Seoul April 3, 2013. (Reuters/Lee Jae-Won)RT

This week’s strike against Islamic State militants in Syria by the United States marked the first time that the Pentagon has deployed its F-22 Raptor jets into combat, the Defense Department acknowledged on Tuesday.

Lt. Gen. William Mayville, the director of ops for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged during a Department of Defense briefing on Tuesday morning that the strikes launched by the US hours earlier were the first ever to involve F-22s — a fifth-generation aircraft that’s capable of dropping precisions bombs on targets from 15 miles away.  

“What we were looking at were the effects we wanted to see on the target areas and what platforms in the region would be best suited to do that,” Mayville told reporters at the Pentagon. “We had a large menu of targets to strike from and we chose from there. Really it’s less the platform then the effects we seek.”

U.S. Army Lieutenant General William Mayville,September 18, 2014. (Reuters/Gary Cameron)

U.S. Army Lieutenant General William Mayville,September 18, 2014. (Reuters/Gary Cameron)

The fighter jets have previously been deployed to Asia and the Middle East, the Wall Street Journal acknowledged on Tuesday, but have until now not been relegated with combat duties. The Pentagon had invested roughly $77.4 billion on the fleet of Raptors as of 2012 but, as RT has reported in the past, a series of complications has repeatedly plagued the F-22 program.

Roughly an hour before Mayville’s remarks, US President Barack Obama said during a brief address from the White House in Washington, DC that American forces began strikes in Syria against the Islamic State — also known as ISIS, or ISIL — with the aid of five Arab nations: Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Bahrain and Qatar. “The proponent of the force” used against IS, Mayville said, was delivered by America’s military, both by air and by sea.

“America is proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with these nations on behalf of our common security,”Obama said early Thursday. “The strength of this coalition makes it clear to the world that this is not America’s fight alone.”

Additionally, the president acknowledged, the US “also took strikes to disrupt plotting against the United States and our allies by seasoned Al-Qaeda operatives in Syria who are known as the Khorasan group.” Later, Mayville said the strike against this group was necessary to thwart an “imminent” attack.

“For some time now, we’ve been tracking plots to conduct attacks in the United States or Europe,” Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, told Reuters. “We believe that attack plotting was imminent and that they had plans to conduct attacks external to Syria,” Rhodes told reporters on Tuesday while traveling with the president to the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York.

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