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‘Operation Chimichanga’ Tests Pentagon’s Stealth Strike Force

April 11, 2012
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Source: Wired

The first sign of the coming U.S. air raid was when the enemy radar and air-defense missile sites began exploding. The strikers were Air Force F-22 Raptor stealth fighters, flying unseen and faster than the speed of sound, 50,000 feet over the battlefield. Having emptied their weapons bays of super-accurate, 250-pound Small Diameter Bombs, the Raptors turned to engage enemy jet fighters rising in defense of their battered allies on the ground.

That’s when all hell broke loose. As the Raptors smashed the enemy jets with Amraam and Sidewinder missiles, nimble Air Force F-16s swooped in to reinforce the F-22s, launching their own air-to-air missiles and firing guns to add to the aerial carnage.

With enemy defenses collapsing, B-1 bombers struck. Several of the 150-ton, swing-wing warplanes, having flown 10 hours from their base in South Dakota, launched radar-evading Jassm cruise missiles that slammed into ground targets, pulverizing them with their 2,000-pound warheads. Its weapons expended, the strike force streaked away. Behind it, the enemy’s planes and ground forces lay in smoking ruin.

The devastating air strike on April 4 involved real warplanes launching a mix of real and computer-simulated weapons at mock targets scattered across the U.S. military’s vast Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex near Fort Yukon, a tiny former fur trading post, population 583. “Operation Chimichanga,” as the exercise was reportedly designated, was the first-ever test of a new Air Force long-range strike team combining upgraded Lockheed Martin F-22s and Boeing B-1s carrying the latest air-launched munitions, along with old-school fighters, tankers and radar planes for support.

Officially, Operation Chimichanga was meant “to validate the long-range strike capability of the B-1s as well as the F-22s’ and F-16s’ ability to escort them into an anti-access target area,” according to Lt. Col. Joseph Kunkel, commander of the Alaska-based Raptor squadron with the latest “Increment 3.1″ upgrade.

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