The U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor dropped 250-pound Small Diameter Bombs on a Taliban opium processing plant in northern Helmand province Nov. 19, marking the first time the Lockheed Martin [LMT]-built fighter jet has operated in Afghanistan, NATO announced Nov. 20.
The F-22 was chosen to hit the drug lab due to its ability to deliver small munitions to minimize civilian casualties, Army Gen. John Nicholson, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, told reporters at the Pentagon via satellite.
The attack was part of a series of U.S. and Afghan strikes against Taliban drug labs and command-and-control nodes. Heroin production has become a major revenue source for the insurgency.
Air Force B-52 bombers and Afghan A-29 light-attack planes also participated in the operation, Nicholson said. In addition, unmanned aircraft fired Hellfire missiles and the U.S. Marine Corps operated its High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), NATO said.