Raptors act as “electronic warfare enabled sensor-rich multi-role aircraft” escorting strike packages into and out of the target area while gathering details about the enemy systems and spreading intelligence to other “networked” assets supporting the mission to improve the overall situational awareness. ...
Therefore, although this may not be what the F-22 was conceived for, the U.S.’s premier air superiority fighter is excelling in a new role: making other aircraft more survivable in contested airspaces like Syria and Iraq.
That's interesting. As a point of order, Iraq is not in any sense of the word "contested airspace." We are fighting on Iraq's side and Iraq has little in the way of air defenses.
So we're talking about Syria, which has Russian-built air defenses. And we can't be sure Assad won't shoot at us even as we both fight ISIL.
Speaking of America flying a stealthy and expensive aircraft through Syrian airspace:
Six MiG-31 fighter jets from Russia have landed in Damascus, in partial fulfillment of a protocol signed between Moscow and the Syrian regime in 2007.
Syria has zero use for these aircraft in the fight against rebels and terrorists.
But there is something that these aircraft are good at:
The MiG-31 fixed a long list of MiG-25 problems and was turned into a very impressive interceptor. The 46 ton aircraft has passive sensors (which have a range of 200 kilometers) and radar guided R33 missiles, with a range of 150 kilometers. Other missiles are carried, as well as smart bombs. The MiG-31 is not very maneuverable but it is fast (able to sprint at up to 3,200 kilometers an hour). Like the original MiG-25 it does not have much range (a 720 kilometer combat radius).
I'll guess that the main job of these planes is to react to any hints of the presence of an F-22 in Syrian airspace and rapidly fly to the location to find our plane.
Remember, the F-22 isn't invisible. If the Syrians (with possibly Russian pilots) can get a plane close to one, the eyeball can spot it.
That will be a signal by Assad to us that we can't fly through Syrian airspace at will. And the Russians will learn about how to detect and intercept the F-22.