America's fifth generation fighters take to the sky in joint training missions

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II and F-22 Raptor are America’s premier fifth generation fighters. The F-22 Raptor is the U.S. Air Force’s stealthy air-to-air superiority fighter, while the F-35 Lightning II is a multi-role fighter that will be put into service by the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Marines (in addition to the air services of our allied partners).
Given that the F-35 Lightning II and F-22 Raptor will be sharing the skies in future combat missions, the U.S. Air Force is working to make sure that pilots of both airframes know the capabilities and limits of the other. To achieve this synergy with America’s only fifth generation fighters, F-22 Raptors from the 94th Fighter Squadron and F-35A Lightning IIs from the 58th Fighter Squadron came together earlier this month for the first operations integration training mission.
“These airplanes complement each other and we're trying to learn how to take that from a design perspective into a tactical arena and be the most effective combat team we can be working with the F-22s,” said Lt. Col. Matt Renbarger, F-35 pilot and 58th Fighter Squadron commander.

 F-22 Raptors (top) alongside F-35A Lightning IIs (bottom) [Image Source: U.S. Air Force/Master Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo]
"The missions started with basic air-to-air and surface attacks," said F-22 pilot Maj. Steven Frodsham. "As the training progressed, the missions developed into more advanced escort and defensive counter air fifth-generation integration missions."
The integration-training missions will also allow the U.S. Air Force to further refine integrated avionics suites used in both aircraft. Both the F-35A and F-22 are designed to provide enhanced situational awareness to the pilot and wealth of information about not only “friendlies” in and around the combat zone, but also enemy targets that must be neutralized.
The F-22 Raptor entered Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in 2005, Full Operational Capability (FOC) in 2007, and is already integrated with fourth generation fighter platforms like the F-16 Viper and the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet. The F-35 Lightning II is expected to enter IOC later this decade and it too will integrate with existing fourth generation fighter and the F-22.
"The lessons learned and tactics developed from this training opportunity will help to form the foundation for future growth in our combined fifth-generation fighter tactics,” concluded Frodsham.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Navy’s F-35C made its first carrier landing.

Source: U.S. Air Force

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