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  • F-22s Could Test Libya's Air Defenses
    Posted by David A. Fulghum 6:02 PM on Mar 01, 2011

    If the U.S. decides to establish a no-fly zone over Libya, the effort could be led by F-22s in their first combat assignment.

    The F-22 and some cyberoperations would be employed in shutting down Libya’s air defense system which is comprised “almost exclusively” of Russian-built SA-6 surface-to-air missiles, says a former Air Force chief of staff. The SAMs are like those that opposed NATO forces involved in operations in Serbia and that shot down the single F-117 fight lost in combat.

    U.S. aircraft carriers are moving to the Western Mediterranean, but operations in Afghanistan will not permit them to maintain a long-term no-fly zone over Libya. That task would fall to the Air Force, he says.

    A likely scenario would have shorter-range fighters flying out of Egypt, using facilities like Cairo West where multi-national Bright Star exercises are conducted.

    “We have a great relationship with the Egyptian air force and army and they are the ones in charge of the country,” the veteran fighter pilot says.

    They will not operate from bases in Libya occupied by insurgents because of the danger of shoulder-fired missiles, anti-U.S. protests and sabotage.

    Larger aircraft, such as tankers, E-8 Joint Stars and E-3  AWACS could operate from Oman, Tunisia or Qatar to establish orbits off Libya’s shores.

    The establishment of a no-fly zone would require “a massive SAM roll-back effort, like that imposed on Iraq [during the Northern and Southern Watch operations after the first Iraq conflict in 1991],” the former Air Force official says. “Every time the Iraqis turned on a radar, we hosed them.”

    “Any cyberoperations would be part of the SAM roll-back radar and computer jamming program, but it would be a small part,” he says. Other targets would be communications systems. The “heavy  weight of effort required” to impose a round-the-clock no fly zone would likely require the “first actual use of the F-2 2… and that might well be the guys [stationed at] Langley [AFB, Virginia].”

    Tags: ar99, Libya, F-22, SA-6

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