Older US Air Force jets – including the A-10 Thunderbolt II, which had been planning to retire in recent years, and the F-15E Strike Eagle – are waging air warfare against the Islamic State, according to the statistics.


US military fighter jets, bombers and drones have dropped more than 67,000 bombs since early 2014 Resolution inherent in the operation, the Ministry of Defense mission against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, according to information provided by the central air force command.

Notably, attack fighter jets released more than three times as many weapons as bombers, according to the figures. Drones dropped the least of all categories of aircraft.

Planes like “the A-10, F-15E and F-16 break their backs because they are the right platform for the job and provide the right function”, Brian Laslie, power historian airline and author of the book, “The Air Force Way of War,” said in an e-mail to Military.com.

F-15E Strike Eagle while refueling. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joshua A. Hoskins)

Weapons dropped by plane

U.S. planes released a total of 67,333 weapons from August 8, 2014 to May 16, according to data. While the F-15E released the most, the F-22 Raptor – one of the most advanced stealth fighters – fell the least.

Here are the figures for the 10 types of US aircraft conducting combat sorties: F-15E Strike Eagle, 14,995 weapons released; A-10 Thunderbolt II, 13,856; B-1 Lancer, 9,195; F / A-18 Super Hornet, 8,920; F-16 Fighting Falcon, 7679; B-52 Stratofortress, 5,041; Predatory drone MQ-1, 2,274; MQ-9 mower, 2188; AV-8B, 1650; and F-22, 1535.

Broken down by aircraft type, the fighter and attack aircraft dropped a total of 48,635 weapons, or 72 percent of the total; the bombers released 14,236, or 21%; and drones fell 4,462, or 7%, according to statistics.

Captain Kathleen Atanasoff, spokesperson for Air Force Central Command, or AFCENT, warned that figures released by the command – which includes assets and actions under the Combined Forces Air Component Commander, or CFACC – do not reflect the “full kinetics in OIR,” such as assets owned by coalition partners or other US components, such as the Combined Joint Land Component Commander and the Special Operations Joint Task Force.

“The amount of weapons used by each aircraft varies due to a number of factors, such as time spent in theater, types of missions (i.e.,” Atanasoff said in an email the week last.

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F-15Es stationed during Operation Desert Shield. (Photo by: Wikimedia)

“The lion’s share of work”

While the Navy’s F / A-18 Super Hornets performed the most combat missions, the Air Force’s F-15Es dropped the most bombs, releasing more than one in five bombs, according to AFCENT.

As the workhorses of ISIS’s battle, the Model “E” Strike Eagle is a dual-role jet aircraft capable of finding targets over long distances and destroying enemy land positions.

The A-10 Thunderbolt II, the gunship popularly known as the Warthog or simply the “Hog,” released almost as many weapons, but with a special kind of accounting. Every 100 rounds of the Hog’s 30mm Avenger cannon counts as one weapon, Atanasoff said.

Laslie said he was not surprised that commanders are turning more frequently to fighters and close air support planes in the campaign against ISIS – an operation estimated at around $ 13 billion so far. .

After the Vietnam War, the service functioned as “a much more tactical air force,” he said. “Since El Dorado Canyon in 1986 [campaign in Libya], Desert Storm in 1991 and the Balkan campaigns of the mid to late 1990s, tactical assets did the lion’s share of the work.

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A US Air Force Boeing B-52F Stratofortress drops bombs on Vietnam. (US Air Force photo))

“See air power”

Atanasoff said the relatively lower strike count for the B-52 doesn’t mean the bomber isn’t as active as other planes, but rather that it just hasn’t been in theater for that long. The B-1 left the campaign in early 2016 and was replaced by the B-52 at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar.

Chief of Staff General David Goldfein said in February: “You’re just going to see a continuous rotation of these two weapon systems. ”

Col. Daniel Manning, deputy director of the Combined Air Operations Center, noted last year the Stratofortress’s unique ability to stay in flight for an extended period of time.

“Frankly, we want our partners and the enemy to see air power [the B-52] has overhead costs, ”he said at the time. “A B-52 encourages our partner to force us to support it. Being seen is actually a very good thing.

Laslie said, “GPS and ranged weapons (and permissive environments) have kept the B-52 in the game, but it’s really a tactical conflict in OIR.” He said bombers like the B-52 – while strategically useful – “aren’t really optimized for this set of missions” during quick and punctual strike sorties.

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An F-22 deploys flares. (Photo by: US Air Force)

Finding Intel

Likewise, the relatively lower strike numbers for the F-22 stealth fighter and the MQ-1 and MQ-9 drones can be attributed to the fact that they are often used for intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance to relay d ‘other platforms and the combined Air and Space Operations Center.

“We refined our targeting process and became more efficient in layering our ISRs to uncover targets that became available to us, which also facilitated the number of weapons we were able to deliver,” said Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, commander of the US Air Force Central Command, told reporters last week.

The leaders also “relied on the ability of the F-22 to merge information, to understand where our friendly forces are,” to monitor and resolve conflicts with multiple ground forces, he said.

Sometimes controllers use Reapers, Predators, or both “combined in a formation” as a more efficient way to use their sensors, according to Lt. Col. Eric Winterbottom, chief of Commander’s Action Group, US Air Forces Central Command.

Remotely piloted planes are probably the first planes to dictate “strike or no strike calls depending on what we see” from sensors, Winterbottom said in October. This is an example of why the authorities are asking for more ISR resources to ease the pressure on manned aircraft and minimize the collateral damage caused by air strikes.

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