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RAPTOR WAKES UP and keeps you posted

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  • RAPTOR WAKES UP and keeps you posted

    This could culminate with the export award ... with possibly Japan as launch customer

    Export Ready? The F-22
    SubscribeYou are in: Home Defence News Article

    Once an endangered species, the US Air Force's Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor stealth fighter is soaring on the success of its first operational deployments.

    A three-year contract for 60 aircraft is about to be signed, and the USAF is gearing up to seek funds to continue buying 20 Raptors a year for the foreseeable future.

    Intraflight datalink allows F-22s to combine sensor picture and coordinate battle

    Now the USA must decide if it is ready to release the Raptor - winner of this year's Collier Trophy - for export.

    "The F-22 is healthier than at any other time. The plane is performing well and the programme is stable," says US defence analyst Loren Thompson. "There is some disagreement within the air force on whether it should be exported. It may have to await a change in administration."

    A Japanese team evaluating contenders for its forthcoming F-X fighter competition has been denied access to the F-22 because US legislation bars its export. But Japan's defence minister last month asked his US counterpart for data on the Raptor, raising the issue from the military to the political level, says Thompson.

    The interest of Japan and others has been piqued by the F-22's overwhelming performance in initial operations, including its just-concluded first overseas deployment to Kadena in Japan.

    "The USAF has validated its decision to declare initial operational capability," says Larry Lawson, F-22 programme general manager.

    When the US Air Force declared the F-22 operational in December 2005, sceptics doubted the Raptor was ready for combat. Just months before, Pentagon testers had determined the aircraft was operationally effective in the air-to-air role, but not operationally suitable because of reliability and maintainability shortfalls.

    Follow-on testing found the F-22 to be operationally effective on air-to-ground missions against fixed targets, but the fighter has yet to be graded operationally suitable. This has not prevented the Raptor achieving impressive results in its first deployments.

    Exercise Northern Edge in Alaska in June last year was the F-22's first deployment outside the continental USA and was followed by the Raptor's first Red Flag in February and the overseas deployment to Kadena. Information on the F-22's performance in Japan is still scarce, but data from Northern Edge and Red Flag show the aircraft to be both lethal and usable.

    Taxing the F-22

    "Northern Edge was not an Air Force-only test of the F-22. It was a no-kidding joint exercise," says Lawson. "The scenarios were what the F-22 would do in a real fight: escorting B-2s in, protecting the skies, and operating with and against other fighters."

    In contrast, Red Flag was set up to tax the F-22, he says. "It was focused on putting it at a disadvantage and trying a lot of different tactics."

    F-22s of the USAF's 1st Fighter Wing have completed three key developments

    In Alaska, the F-22 achieved an unprecedented 144:0 kill ratio in the first week of Northern Edge. "In the first week of the fight, the preponderance of engagements were beyond visual range. In the second week they got into the merge and took a couple of shots," says Lawson, pointing out that the pilots averaged less than 100h on the aircraft. The final tally was 80:1.

    Northern Edge included an air-to-air mission involving a "blue" team of 24 F-15Cs, eight F-22s and two F-15Es against 40 F-16s and F/A-18s that were allowed to regenerate to produce a total "red" air force of 103 aircraft.

    The USAF says the blue team was able to achieve an 83:1 kill ratio, losing one F-15. Over the two-week exercise, the F-22 accounted for 30% of the blue force and 49% of kills.

    Specific kill ratios were not released for Red Flag, the US Air Force says, because each of the two "wars" staged every day involved different threats and objectives.

    "In general, compared to the last several Red Flag exercises that did not include F-22s in the blue air force mix, the overall blue air package was more than twice as effective," says the USAF.

    Red Flag marked the first time the F-22 was flown with coalition forces: Royal Air Force Tornado GR4s and Royal Australian Air Force F-111s.

    There was one simulated F-22 kill, in what Lawson describes as "peculiar" circumstances. A red fighter regenerated unbeknown to the blue force and the F-22 pilot, unaware the aggressor had re-entered the fight, did not attack the aircraft and instead took a shot.

    To simulate a larger red force, "killed" aggressor aircraft fly back to a line where they regenerate and re-enter the fight. The aggressor pilots found fighting the F-22 frustrating, says Lawson: "They were not getting off the regeneration point."

    Notwithstanding these early demonstrations of its "see first, shoot first" lethality, Raptor tactics are still in their infancy. One discovery during Northern Edge, Lawson says, was the pilot's ability to use the F-22's "incredible situational awareness" to act as a forward air controller (FAC), co-ordinating other aircraft.

    The four aircraft in an F-22 formation are connected by an intraflight datalink, allowing each pilot to see a picture of the battle generated by all four sets of radar and sensors.

    After expending its weapons, Lawson says, the F-22 was able to stay in the fight and act in a co-ordinating role using this four-ship "God's eye view".

    He adds: "We need to train pilots to act in the role, and we need to learn how to do it better." Because the stealthy F-22 cannot communicate via datalink beyond the four-ship formation, the FAC role has to be performed by voice, but a wideband datalink connecting the F-22 to other platforms is planned for a future upgrade.

    Both Northern Edge and Red Flag exercised the Raptor's air-to-ground, as well as air-to-air capabilities. Introduced during development, the ability to carry two 450kg (1,000lb) JDAM GPS-guided bombs shifted the F-22 from a focus on pure air superiority, and future upgrades will expand its air-to-ground capability.

    F-22s has dropped 50-60 JDAMs in Combat Hammer exercises at Hill AFB in Utah with 100% success, says Lawson. A further 26 were dropped during Northern Edge, all direct hits according to the USAF.

    "They are happy with the air-to-ground capability they have," he says. "The pilots are mostly F-15C, not E, drivers and the ability to do the air-to-ground mission effectively is a confidence builder."

    Despite concerns over the F-22's operational suitability, results from the initial deployments are positive. Twelve Raptors from the 27th Fighter Squadron flew 102 of 105 planned sorties during Northern Edge, while 14 aircraft from the 94th FS flew all 134 sorties planned for Red Flag.

    According to USAF data for Northern Edge, three key measures - the mission abort rate, the time aircraft were not available because of maintenance, and the percentage of aircraft fixed within an 8h period - were all better than standard.

    The mission capable rate of 71.9% missed the target of 74%, but was the highest yet achieved by the F-22.

    "We are exceeding expectations for reliability growth," says Lawson. "For this level of maturity the mean time between maintenance number is impressive and the mission capable rate is very good."

    At the time of initial operational testing in late 2004, the aircraft had logged 7,000h when the second phase of follow-on testing began last month, the total had risen to 27,000h.

    "This year we will add 25,000h," he says. "We are not at the 100,000h maturity numbers yet, but are well ahead of plan."

    Follow-on testing is evaluating supersonic JDAM release and defensive avionics improvements. The next upgrade, Incre*ment 3.1, is in development for deployment in 2010 and includes the 115kg Small Diameter Bomb and air-to-ground synthetic-aperture radar and electronic attack modes for the Northrop Grumman APG-77(V)1 active electronically scanned array radar.

    Now in definition, Increment 3.2 will expand SDB capability to supersonic release and add new air-to-ground modes and the TTNT wideband IP-based datalink, allowing the F-22 to share the sensor data gathered as it performs its missions.

    Wider knowledge of the F-22's capabilities is stimulating export interest, but political and technical hurdles remain. Instead the USA has tried to steer attention towards the Lockheed Martin F-35, which shares many of the same stealth, sensor and software technologies.

    "The problem is there is no provision in the F-22 for technology security," says Thompson. "The F-35 was designed from its inception to protect sensitive technology."

    Thompson says Japan's particular interest is the F-22's capability against cruise missiles, with its supercruise performance and powerful radar allowing the fighter to intercept the weapons at long range.

    He expects a decision will be taken to release enough information to enable Japan to decide whether it wants the Raptor.
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  • #2
    Interesting news, glad to see the Raptor entering International fleets. My friend's cousin has recently became a test pilot flying F-22s in Alaska. I can only imagine how great that must be.


    • #3
      Shouldnt it be a priority for the US forces to get their orders filled before we send them to other nations? Whats the point in developing new technology for aviation if we are only going to give it to other countries and not our boys?


      • #4
        Originally posted by dneedham
        Whats the point in developing new technology for aviation if we are only going to give it to other countries and not our boys?
        Given that the US military as the largest buyer gets the biggest discount, I'd say it once again comes down the power of the almighty buck $$$.


        • #5
          Still pisses me off that we are sending these things off to other countries and that we have early model F-15s and F-16s here in Colorado...
          Buy portable vaporizer


          • #6
            Plane ability-wise that's understandable, though personally I still think looks-wise the Fighting Falcon still can't be beat .


            • #7
              True, the F-16 is sexy in it's own right...

              But I would just love to see an F-22 in the skies over Denver...

              Bmw f01


              • #8
                Air Force sure Raptor's moves will win friends
                Plane's dazzling moves to be showcased

                By DAVE HIRSCHMAN
                The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

                Published on: 03/04/07

                The speed and agility that make the Marietta-built F-22 Raptor a formidable dogfighter also provide an entertaining side benefit that the Air Force intends to start showing off: dazzling aerobatic moves.

                In an effort to build public support for the controversial weapons program, the Air Force plans a series of low-level air show performances around the country this spring and summer. They will include a radical series of aerobatic maneuvers that have only recently been defined and named.

                describe the bizarre-looking gyrations of a plane roughly the same size and weight as other frontline fighters but wildly more nimble. "The Cobra" and extreme slow-speed passes also are planned.

                "The Air Force realizes it's very important that the Raptor demonstrations look different than any other flight profile we've ever done," said Maj. Paul "Max" Moga, 34, an F-22 instructor who will fly all of the Raptor's public demonstrations for the next two years.

                "As I continuously develop the aerobatic maneuvers, I hope to add them one at a time, By the end of the year, I'll have a full aerobatic profile that will be much different from the [F-15] Eagle or [F-16] Viper."

                Both those frontline fighters perform traditional air show routines that highlight their speed and precision. But their maneuvers have been little changed in the half-century the Air Force has been displaying jet fighters.

                Raptors are the first U.S. combat planes with "vectored thrust" and other features that dramatically enhance their maneuverability and allow them to fly an entirely new repertoire of maneuvers. Russia's nonstealthy Sukhoi fighters were the first to perform the Cobra move in public, and its Su-37s are billed as Raptor rival.

                Public aerial demonstrations are a time-tested, grass-roots method for the military to build popular support, show off technological prowess and attract recruits. This year, the Air Force plans an elaborate series of events to mark its 60th anniversary, including a full week of events in Atlanta in October.

                No Atlanta area shows featuring the Raptor have been set, but it could be part of the October events.

                The $72 billion Raptor program has been a lightning rod throughout more than 20 years of development. Opponents claim Lockheed Martin's $136 million jets are a relic of the Cold War and no longer relevant for the kinds of gritty, ground conflicts the United States faces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Air Force regards the planes as essential, however, and wants many more of the Marietta-built aircraft than the 183 allotted so far.

                The F-22 is replacing the F-15 as the nation's top fighter, and more than 80 have been delivered. Lockheed's F-22 team won the prestigious Collier Trophy this year for the most notable achievement in aerospace.

                The stealthy, highflying planes have proved virtually untouchable in war games, and a dozen Raptors were sent to Japan in February on their first overseas deployment.

                Moga said many of the Raptor's aerobatic maneuvers were discovered and refined during flight tests and simulated aerial combat.

                "Most of the maneuvers were developed for dogfighting," he said. "They just happen to look pretty neat and show off the plane's unique capabilities."

                Larry Lawson, Lockheed's F-22 program director, said the planes racked up unprecedented 80-to-1 kill ratios last year in "Northern Edge," a massive, freewheeling war game in Alaska that used top U.S. fighters as opponents. Raptors posted similar results in the Air Force's annual "Red Flag" contest in Nevada.

                "The F-22 isn't evolutionary it's revolutionary," Lawson said. "The F-22 combines stealth with superior performance, and it fuses and shares information so that everyone else is better and more effective. It wins in any scenario."

                Lawson said the Raptor has been tested more thoroughly than any other military aircraft, and that the Air Force is rethinking its tactics to take full advantage of its abilities.

                "Three years ago, people were asking us to prove the airplane could meet its performance claims," he said. "Now, those questions have been answered. We're trying to figure out how best to employ those capabilities."

                Marietta workers built 27 Raptors in 2006, and the current level of production is scheduled to continue through 2011. More than 1,800 jobs at Lockheed's Marietta facility are tied to the Raptor program.

                Richard Aboulafia, aerospace analyst at the Teal Group, said the Air Force and Lockheed benefit from air shows but that the gains are impossible to quantify.

                "A broad audience lets people see that the F-22 is an impressive achievement," he said. "It changes the debate. Politicians find it harder to portray the plane as public enemy No. 1. There could and should be serious discussions about how many to buy and at what cost. But getting the word out to large numbers of people is something of a defensive move because it makes it harder for politicians to grandstand against it."

                Raptors have "vectored thrust" that tilts their exhaust nozzles and allows the planes to make extremely sharp turns; massive control surfaces that clutch at the air so the planes can fly at remarkably slow speeds; and a pair of afterburning engines that put out a combined 70,000 pounds of thrust, enabling Raptors to climb vertically as soon as their wheels leave the ground.

                Raptors have flown over major sports events and made their first air show appearances last year. But this will be the first time they perform aerobatic routines for the public.

                Unusual maneuvers include "the Cobra," in which the plane in level flight abruptly pitches its nose up, far beyond vertical, slows to about 80 miles an hour, then lowers its nose and accelerates in level flight. Moga also plans to slow the Raptor to speeds commonly surpassed by I-285 drivers for "high alpha" passes with the nose raised more than 40 degrees above the horizon.

                No other fighter can fly so slowly, or at such extreme angles.

                "It's a very easy jet to fly," said Moga, who flew F-15s for seven years before moving to the Raptor two years ago. "It's extremely stable, and it has more power than it needs for air show flying. That makes the pilot's job a lot easier."
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by seahawk
                  Plane's dazzling moves to be showcased
                  Damn, the "Cobra" looks sick .
                  Last edited by seahawk; 2007-06-13, 10:36.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by DAL767-400ER
                    Damn, the "Cobra" looks sick .
                    Yes it does, but nobody beats the Russians at it! The Russians still do it the best.

                    It is nice to see tha tthe Raptor will have the possibilty to be exported to other countries.... Imagine 2 Raptors from two different countries engaging in a dogfight in a war.



                    • #11
                      Originally posted by DAL767-400ER
                      Damn, the "Cobra" looks sick .
                      The Mongo flip is much more impressive, imho that has been not done before
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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by seahawk
                        The Mongo flip is much more impressive, imho that has been not done before
                        by far the most interesting to see if performed on the same pace as a replay
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