The F-22 Raptor’s reputation as the King of the Skies was proven in it’s first confirmed engagement against enemy warplanes. The engagement started when an Iranian F-4 Phantom began closing on an American MQ-1 Predator drone. Because of the F-22’s advanced technology, the Iranian had no idea he was in the area – until it was too late. Just days earlier, Iranian Su-25’s had attempted to shoot down another drone and the military decided to provide fighter escorts for the ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance) drone missions.
It was Lt. Col. Kevin “Showtime” Sutterfield flying his F-22 when it was time to test the Raptor against an enemy plane.
Showtime’s F-22 spotted the enemy plane approaching the drone and vectored to engage. What happened next is unbelievable. According to General Welsh:
“If a combatant commander wants airpower there’s only one number to call. When they dial the phone, “Showtime may answer.” Showtime is an Air Force Reservist at Elmendorf.”
He flies the F-22. He flies it really well. Did you guys see the news clip not long ago about the Iranian F-4s that intercepted a remotely piloted aircraft out over the Arabian Gulf? Then they were warned off? This is the guy who warned them off.”
After he rejoined on them, flew underneath their aircraft to check out their weapons load without them knowing he was there, and then pulled up on their left wing and then called them and said you really ought to go home. [Laughter].”
Show Time is air superiority. It’s still foundational to everything we do in the United States military. Without it, everything else has to change. We can’t afford to forget that.”
That’s right, the Raptor flew underneath the enemy plane and inspected it’s loadout without the pilot having a clue what was happening. The Iranian’s first clue something was amiss was the hulking shape of the F-22 pulling alongside and a command to leave on international channels.
Definitely a poop your pants kind of moment. It kind of brings to mind this classic piece of American aviation: