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An F-22A Raptor taxis in the US Central Command area of responsibility prior to strike operations in Syria Sept. 23, 2014. These aircraft were part of a large coalition strike package that was the first to strike ISIL targets in Syria. Air Force photo by TSgt. Russ Scalf.

​It is critical to continue F-22 modernization to keep the fleet capable to sustain air superiority in the future, especially with the Raptor line staying closed, Air Combat Command boss Gen. Hawk Carlisle said. Speaking at a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Wednesday, Carlisle said F-22s have shown their combat capability in Operation Inherent Resolve by targeting ISIS with small diameter bombs and by penetrating “airspace other airplanes couldn’t.” It is critical to continue to upgrade the capability of the 183-aircraft fleet. This includes taking lessons learned from the F-35, such as increasing the maintainability of the F-22’s low observable skin. Because the F-22’s production line will likely stay closed, Carlisle said he would like to upgrade the F-22s assigned to the 43rd Fighter Squadron at Tyndall AFB, Fla., to combat capable. The Raptors assigned to the squadron are older airplanes, but the upgrades would help because “the more combat-capable F-22s, the happier I’ll be,” Carlisle said. (Carlisle’s prepared testimony) (See also: Critical Ingredient in Short Supply.)