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​​Three F-22s from the Hawaii Raptors taxi to the runway at JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam on April 20, 2015. Staff photo by Amy McCullough.

JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii—The F-22s advanced ability to see and interpret the battle space is “showing itself to be pretty valuable” in Operation Inherent Resolve, said Lt. Col. Justin Spears, an F-22 pilot and commander of the 19th Fighter Squadron here. Although the Hawaii Raptors have not yet conducted anti-ISIS operations over Iraq or Syria, they have been tapped to head downrange, and are already taking notes from current F-22 operations in the US Central Command area of operations. “The F-22 is being used in large degree in a mission commander role for the strike packages out there, making some critical decisions, not just for the F-22 forces, but for the joint and coalition forces as well,” Spears told Air Force Magazine during a recent visit to the base. “So, it’s not necessarily affecting how we train, but it’s going to affect the flavor of pilot I take with me.” For example, the Hawaii Raptors are planning to bring “more experienced guys” downrange. That includes, flight leads, mission commanders, and instructor pilots “because of the level of decision making that’s being given to the F-22s in theater,” said Spears. “It’s pretty elevated, pretty important.” (See also With the Raptors over Syria from the February 2015 issue of Air Force Magazine.)