As Russian pilots leverage the close quarters of the air campaign in Iraq and Syria to gather crucial intelligence on U.S. operations, one U.S. aircraft in particular could be vulnerable to prying eyes—the stealth F-22 Raptor.
The air war against the Islamic State has provided a “treasure trove” of information on U.S. operations and tactics for Russia and other adversaries, said Lt. Gen. VeraLinn Jamieson, U.S. Air Force deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), during a Jan. 4 event on Capitol Hill. After more than two years of flying in close proximity with U.S. aircraft in the skies over Syria, Moscow has gained “invaluable insights” about U.S. aircraft and tactics, she stressed.
“Our adversaries are watching us, they are learning from us, and the skies over Iraq and specifically Syria have really just been a treasure trove for them to see how we operate,” Jamieson said.
Although Jamieson did not mention specific aircraft types, it is a fact that the campaign provided Russia its first opportunity to see U.S. fifth-generation aircraft in action. The F-22 made its combat debut in the opening strikes on the Islamic State in Syria in 2014.
No one forced the US Air Force to show off their bling in Syria, where the need for an aircraft like the F-22 is nearly non-existent.
The fact that the Russians are there, with antennas recording everything that they can, was completely foreseeable.