Operation Jagged Knife – F-22 Raptors, B-52s, Taking Mattis’ New ROEs to Heart
Now that the rules of engagement have taken the handcuffs off the military, Mattis has presided over taking apart the Taliban’s source of money: opium. Last weekend, airstrikes involving the ANDSF and USFOR-A hit eight opium factories on Sunday and a 10 other facilities on the first day of “Operation Jagged Knife.” But not just any aircraft participated: In addition to Afghan A-29s, B-52s and F-22A Raptors also took shots.
The Aviationist reported,
Noteworthy, for the very first time, U.S. Air Force F-22A Raptors took part in the air strikes in Afghanistan “principally because of their ability to mitigate civilian casualties and inadvertent damage by employing small diameter bombs during U.S. airstrikes.” The F-22s, operated alongside B-52 bombers, Hellfire missiles fired from drones, and U.S. Marine Corps-operated High-Mobility Rocket Systems that were “pivotal in the first night of strike successes.”
Operation Jagged Knife
B-52s dropped 2000 pound bombs during the operation.
The F-22 Raptor is a formidable warplane. It has stealth, speed, maneuverability, altitude and sensors. Last weekend was the first time that a Raptor participated in airstrikes against drug labs and “command and control nodes” of the Taliban. The plan is to hit the Taliban in their pocket books.
Asked why there was a need for the F-22 instead of other warplanes, General John Nicholson replied that the F-22 had the capability to carry small, 250 pound precision bombs that reduced the possibility of collateral damage. That and it was actually available.
— USForces Afghanistan (@USFOR_A) November 26, 2017
WATCH: A U.S. airstrike hits a Taliban homemade explosives facility in Helmand province. The enormous secondary explosion is evidence of stockpiles of explosives the Taliban would have used against the Afghan people. #ForAFG @CentcomDari @CENTCOMPashtu @USAFCENT pic.twitter.com/px3HKztQuD
— USForces Afghanistan (@USFOR_A) November 24, 2017
“Our message to the enemy is that ‘You cannot win the war; it’s time to lay down your arms and enter into the reconciliation process,’” said Gen. Nicholson. #AFGStrong #ForAFG https://t.co/TzHGpMCTUG pic.twitter.com/9N2CFSy46O
— USForces Afghanistan (@USFOR_A) November 22, 2017
“Last night, we conducted strikes into Northern Helmand to hit the Taliban where it hurts: their narcotics financing.” -Gen. Nicholson, USFOR-A #AFGStrong https://t.co/RLjDdSYTlI @CENTCOM @USAFCENT @DeptofDefense @TOLOnews @pajhwok @HM_Kakar @1TVNewsAF @ArianaNews_ @KhalilNoori pic.twitter.com/152rTR236z
— USForces Afghanistan (@USFOR_A) November 20, 2017
The Taliban have increased opium production by about 87% just this year, according to reports. And that’s where that $200 Million a year comes from. And it’s been big money for them too, funneled through just about everybody for a buck, including corrupt Afghan politicians and military. General Nicholson stated that there are 400-500 opium processing facilities in Afghanistan…every one of them is now a target.
Since it is no longer a “rule” that the enemy has to be in close proximity to US forces…the military is free to take out the Taliban’s source of funding with one of the most formidable aircraft ever built.
The F-22A Raptor
Built by Lockheed-Martin, the F-22 Raptor is considered the deadliest attack aircraft in the fleet. It only has room for one pilot. It made its combat debut in 2014, but flew for the first time in 1997. It’s an older plane, and is set to be replaced soon, but still maintains the title of the best air dominance fighter in the world. It’s sensors are marketed as making other US aircraft more survivable by allowing the plane to have “situational awareness.”
The US Military hopes to keep the F-22 flying until 2060, but will require upgrades and software changes by 2025, and may fall behind new aircraft from Russia and China in that regard. But for now, it’s still the king of fighter planes.