News surrounding America's fifth generation fighter programs
has come in at a furious pace in the past few weeks. The latest bit of news
coming out of the Defense Department should delight many aviation enthusiasts
around the world.
The United States Air Force (USAF) officially deemed that
the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor is suitable for Full
Operational Capability (FOC) status. FOC means that the F-22 Raptor’s
weapons systems and flight performance fully meet the Air Force's requirement and that
the aircraft can be deployed anywhere around the world.
The F-22 Raptor has fully trained pilots and support crew to
ensure its successful operations at home or abroad in wartime conditions. The
Air Force declined to mention if the F-22 Raptor would be deployed to Iraq
(like the high-profile V-22
Osprey) or Afghanistan.
"After years of collaborative effort, a key milestone
for the F-22 has been reached," said General John Corley. "The
Raptor's success at Langley with the integration of active duty and Guard
airmen is the showcase example of ACC's shared vision with Air Force leadership
for the Total Force Integration of tomorrow."
"This announcement means the F-22 is ready for
world-wide operations, should it be called upon," added Larry Lawson,
Lockheed Martin's Aeronautics executive vice president and F-22 general
manager. "It's a great day for our nation and for the men and women who
fly and maintain this incredible aircraft. They deserve the best our country
can provide, and the F-22 will stand in the gap providing air dominance and air
cover for those who defend us on the ground for the next four decades."
F-22 Raptors are currently deployed at Edwards AFB, Nellis
AFB, Tyndall AFB, Langley AFB and Elmendorf AFB. Raptors will also soon find a
home at Holloman AFB and Hickman AFB.
The news of the F-22 Raptor's FOC status comes just weeks
after the Pentagon reportedly
expressed interest in purchasing additional airframes. Concerns over
structural fatigue in the 30-year-old F-15 lead to the grounding of the all 442
USAF F-15A, B, C and D air-superiority fighters.
The F-22 Raptor's sister ship, the F-35 Lightning II, recently
took to the air again after a seven-month
grounding. The F-35 Lightning II uses technology cribbed from the F-22
program and will supplant the F-16 Fighting Falcon, AV8B Harrier, F/A-18 Hornet
and A-10 Warthog.
quote: Clearly the Lightning can outperform the capabilities of the Hog, otherwise they wouldn't replace it. Who knows? Perhaps the Hog will make a another comeback in Gulf War III.
quote: His wife is actually an asset to the growing population of Spanish speaking citizens and undocumented "visitors."
quote: I bet the marines are hoping they can get the A-10 scraps-from-the-table like from the air force (just like they get all their kit second-hand from either the army, navy, or air force).
quote: hich means high speed, high altitude JDAM drops and the like. Which also means when the marine calls in to the pilot to hit the second ridge on the hill to the east or whatever, the pilot will not have a clue what he's talking about.
quote: Great for taking on insurgencies, but what about a country with the capability of knocking out the GPS satellites (i.e. China, Russia) :P
quote: It has a vertical take off capability, so it has the slow speeds and hovor capability
quote: It has a vertical take off capability, so it has the slow speeds and hovor capability...
quote: Loiter time is a non-issue for support of ground engagements