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Four F-22s prepare for take-off - image courtesy Lockheed Martin
The Raptor is still shaping up to be a fine aircraft platform

The United States Air Force (USAF) F-22A Raptor has only been in operational service for a little over a year now, and the advanced fighter aircraft is already shaping up to be quite a formidable weapon in the skies. The F-22 can supercruise (achieve supersonic speeds without afterburner) at Mach 1.58 and has a top speed of Mach 2+ thanks to its twin Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 turbofan engines.

Over the past year, F-22s have partaken in a number of simulated "wargames" to display the capabilities of the aircraft. In one two-week excursion in Alaska, designated Northern Edge, the "Blue Air" team which was led by F-22s simply obliterated its "Red Air" threat.

The Red Air threat was composed of a number of previous generation Air Force and Navy aircraft including the F-15, F-16 and F/A-18 Super Hornet. During the exercise, in which more than 40 aircraft littered the skies, the Blue Team achieved a remarkable 241-to-2 kill ratio. It should be noted that the 2 aircraft lost on the Blue Team were F-15C aircraft and not the F-22s.

"They [the Red Air adversaries] couldn’t see us," Tolliver said. "And that’s what makes the F-22 special. I’m out there and I have weapons like an F-15C or an F-16, but ... I’m basically invisible to the other guy’s radar," said Toliver.

The F-22's also scored a 97% mission effective rate during Northern Edge, flying 102 out of 105 assigned sorties. No other new aircraft to enter service into the USAF has been able to achieve such high readiness levels.

Over the past year, the F-22 has had many other success stories. The aircraft has successfully handled alternating air-to-air and air-to-ground operations and have provided additional sensor coverage for trailing friendly aircraft. F-22s have also released JDAMs from an altitude of 50,000 feet while traveling at Mach 1.5 and successfully fired AIM-120C-5 and AIM-9M missiles at live drone aircraft.

Despite all of the successes, there is still room for improvement in the F-22 program. The aircraft's mechanical readiness is now pegged at 70 to 75%, which is slightly lower than the USAF's optimal 75 to 78% rating. Also, pilots are asking for dual-mode satellite/laser guided bombs for the aircraft as well as a helmet-mounted firing system for weapons. Other improvements already in queue include an upgraded radar system and enhanced capabilities in the event of an electronic attack.

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Over budget
By Red and black on 2/4/2007 10:37:00 PM , Rating: 3
The F-22 has gone over budget by a factor of four: the Air Force wanted to buy 700, but now will buy fewer than 200.

RE: Over budget
By Red and black on 2/4/2007 10:40:27 PM , Rating: 3
Also: problems with metal fatigue, that will require repairs of all the planes currently built:

RE: Over budget
By Goty on 2/4/2007 10:42:27 PM , Rating: 3
But when you can take out roughly 120 enemy aircraft for every F-22 lost, you can "make do" with 200.

RE: Over budget
By Polynikes on 2/4/2007 11:15:07 PM , Rating: 2
But will they ever have the chance? Seems like dog fights went the way of the dodo a long time ago.

RE: Over budget
By ADDAvenger on 2/4/2007 11:54:51 PM , Rating: 5
That's what they said when they made the F-4s without guns (an external gun-pod was later added).

Also what they said when they made the F-14s with super-long-range tomahawk(?) missiles, missiles that can shoot stuff down before the pilot can even see it.

Also what they said around WWII when planes were flying twice as fast as any previous record.

RE: Over budget
By joust on 2/5/2007 12:02:55 AM , Rating: 4
Also, think about this critically. Why was this enormous exercise taking place in Alaska of all places, as opposed to, say, Virginia? Why such a huge exercise? Why tell everyone how amazing this fighter is? Why a couple weeks after China shot down a satellite?

Ah yes, the Chinese. This is a signal to them. They're largest threat that can field aircraft against the US.

RE: Over budget
By cheetah2k on 2/5/2007 1:14:31 AM , Rating: 3
Sure, China can shoot down satellites..

But come to think of it, i dont think China's rapidly ageing numbers of SU-27's and Migs are any match for the F-22

RE: Over budget
By ralith on 2/5/2007 9:44:27 AM , Rating: 2
I'm a bit out of the loop so I don't know how capable they are, but the Chinese have some home grown fighters.

RE: Over budget
By AssMonkey76 on 2/5/2007 7:37:40 PM , Rating: 3
China has the J-10, good aircraft but no match to the F-22 or F-15. Also, we shot down a satalite in the 70's with an F-15.

RE: Over budget
By saratoga on 2/5/2007 2:47:43 AM , Rating: 5
Also, think about this critically. Why was this enormous exercise taking place in Alaska of all places, as opposed to, say, Virginia?

Because there is little air traffic over Alaska. Conversely, the nations capital and east coast do occasionally have air craft around them.

Why such a huge exercise? Why tell everyone how amazing this fighter is? Why a couple weeks after China shot down a satellite?

Thats silly. The F22 program has been in the works for more then a decade. The Chinese already know all about it.

More likely this is an exercise designed to convince the new Democratic Congress not to reduce funding for F-22 purchases.

RE: Over budget
By SLI on 2/5/2007 7:21:01 AM , Rating: 2
Thats silly. The F22 program has been in the works for more then a decade. The Chinese already know all about it.

I can tell you from personal experience this plane has been in development since (at least) 1989. ;-)

RE: Over budget
By jarman on 2/5/2007 12:15:09 PM , Rating: 3
More likely this is an exercise designed to convince the new Democratic Congress not to reduce funding for F-22 purchases.

You hit the nail on the head. Kudos pal.

RE: Over budget
By JimFear on 2/5/2007 7:50:13 AM , Rating: 1
The Red Dragon is sleeping ;)

RE: Over budget
By dare2savefreedom on 2/5/07, Rating: 0
RE: Over budget
By ss284 on 2/5/2007 10:57:24 PM , Rating: 2
And somehow this huge infantry is gonna cross the largest ocean on this planet? Brings a whole new meaning to fresh off the boat.

RE: Over budget
By PrinceGaz on 2/6/2007 3:23:51 AM , Rating: 2
China doesn't need to fight a military battle against the US because they are already winning the economic war. It is almost certainly the US which would need to cross the pacific in any military confrontation.

RE: Over budget
By Regs on 2/5/2007 3:24:01 AM , Rating: 2
I remember that. They couldn't fire their missles because the fighters closed in so fast.

RE: Over budget
By ralith on 2/5/2007 9:39:05 AM , Rating: 3
F-14's carried the AIM-54 Phoenix for long range AA. The tomahawk is a cruise missile.

RE: Over budget
By timmiser on 2/5/2007 5:40:24 PM , Rating: 2
Yep. Also, even though it is a relatively old a/a missile and now retired (since it was so large it could only be mounted on an F-14), it is still classified and the USN still won't admit the actual effective range of that missile although rumoured to be about 150 miles! That's about 5-6 times further than the AMRAAM's. The Phoenix was one big muther!

RE: Over budget
By alcalde on 2/5/2007 3:05:08 PM , Rating: 2
But times have changed since WWII and Korea. We're not going to be fighting massive battles against regular forces in the foreseeable future. Conflict short-of-war against irregular forces using unconvential tactics in urban environments is the present and will be the future.

Such situations do not call for massive dogfight battles.

RE: Over budget
By Samus on 2/6/2007 4:56:55 AM , Rating: 2
They F22 is excellent at taking out ABM's and LRM's as well as aircraft. It's payload can also be equips for anti-tank and anti-ship deployment.

RE: Over budget
By stromgald on 2/5/2007 12:53:09 AM , Rating: 2
The F-22 could achieve an average 120-1 kill ratio over it's life, but that doesn't mean that 200 is enough. In a full scale war against a significant enemy like China, Russia, or some of the European countries, 200 is a very low number. The JSF/F-35 is what's supposed to make up for the loss in numbers but probably won't in the end.

Then again, the likelihood of conflict against any of those nations is exteremely low.

RE: Over budget
By nomagic on 2/5/2007 2:09:23 AM , Rating: 3
Fighter planes can be built rather quickly when the situation demands so. I think it is more important to get more experienced pilots to feel comfortable with F-22 now. After all, training pilots takes more time than building fighter planes.

RE: Over budget
By tmarat on 2/5/07, Rating: -1
RE: Over budget
By gorobei on 2/5/2007 6:08:51 AM , Rating: 3
it was a f117 that was shot down. mostly due to the fact that its generation1 stealthtech was based on reflecting the radar away from the emmiter/receiver dish. the enemy simply waited until the 117 flew past and used another radar to light it up from an angle that the missile receiver could see it from.

the f22 and f35 use second gen stealth that work by absorbing radar energy. so the "light it up from behind" trick wont work.

RE: Over budget
By masher2 on 2/5/2007 9:19:15 AM , Rating: 2
> "it was a f117 that was shot down..."

Wasn't there some question over whether the F117 was even detected on radar or not? I seem to recall some evidence that it was simply hit with a lucky AA shot, and not a radar-guided SAM.

RE: Over budget
By BladeVenom on 2/5/2007 11:06:16 AM , Rating: 3
It was dropping a bomb when it got shot down. The bomb bay doors were open, negating it's stealth.

RE: Over budget
By beemercer on 2/5/2007 3:28:30 PM , Rating: 2
It was a combination of the open bomb bay doors and that the F-117 in question was also wet, and when the radar absorbent paint gets wet it loses some of it's ability to absorb radar.

RE: Over budget
By WhiteBoyFunk on 2/5/07, Rating: 0
RE: Over budget
By stromgald on 2/5/2007 7:06:56 PM , Rating: 2
Radar abosrbing paint is not "horse crap" as you put it. It's one of the main features of the F-22 and Su-47. Read up on stealth before you go mouthing off. I'm not sure if water affects radar absorbant paint, but it's effect is unlikely to significant IMO.

You're right in that the F-117 wasn't shot down with bomb bay doors open. That was the tactic the Iraqis used in the first Gulf War. When the bomb bay doors were open, they shot up flak like crazy to try to clip/damage the F-117s.

The one that came down in Yugoslavia was targeted using a combination of visual sightings and multiple radar sources to help 'paint' the F-117. This greatly reduced the effectiveness of the F-117's faceted stealth.

RE: Over budget
By gorobei on 2/6/2007 8:25:41 AM , Rating: 2
they're right about the RAM(RadarAbsorbingMaterial). Just as certain materials convert UV radiation into heat, there are others that convert the radar EM into non-returnable bounce. the reason the F117 is the least stealthy is that the only RAM on it is the paint. It either ablates or abrrades off, and the plane has to be repainted on a regular schedule. (And rain does seriously affect it; why do you think weather radar is so effective?)

2nd gen stealth uses RAM and radar absorbing structures to avoid reflecting the radar back to the enemy. The leading edge of the B2 has tiny faceted funnel structures inside the leading edge to trap the radar energy. There are also materials that are radar transparent.

and on the F117 shootdown: it wasn't exactly a "lucky" shot. the political airspace restrictions at the time forced the US to fly in from the same direction every time. they knew where he was coming from and where he was going, so it was easy to setup the radar sources along the path to paint him. The airforce knew it was a bad idea but they didn't have much of a choice.

RE: Over budget
By tmarat on 2/5/2007 10:52:40 AM , Rating: 1
F117 must be made so that it reflects as less radio signals back and absorbs as much as it can. But frankly I don't believe a F117 is made so that it is invisible to radars from front and visible from back. I think that would be very stupid, to say the least. Any plane coming from behind would shoot it down. And in a battlefield stationery radar might happen to be located behind the plane.
I don't remember where but I read an article long time ago questioning all this stealth tech. Certainly it does achieve a low radar signature, but at a huge cost.

RE: Over budget
By stromgald on 2/5/2007 11:34:50 AM , Rating: 2
The F-117 shot down over Yugoslavia wasn't because of the bomb bay doors, it was because there were measures to counteract stealth technology. The Yugoslavian military used TV signals instead of normal radar to detect the F-117 and shoot it down. The UK and certain universities in the US have also developed stealth countering systems (one of which involves the separate emitters and receivers that I think a previous poster referred to). All these stealth countermeasures is one of the main reasons that the Russian Su-47 doesn't rely as much on stealth as US planes.

RE: Over budget
By alcalde on 2/5/2007 3:13:57 PM , Rating: 2
You're right about the likelihood of full-scale conflict against these countries. But in addition, remember that the kill ratio was achieved against F-15s, F-16s, F-18s. Russia isn't in shape to field massive numbers of anything at the moment (after repeated submarine missile launch failures one of their top folks stated that Russia's ability to defend its own borders was in doubt, let alone project force outward), and the majority of its airforce consists of older Migs. The bulk of China's airforce is also much less effective than the U.S. planes listed above. This leaves certain European countries. Here the ratio would apply with planes like the French Rafale, the UK/German/Spanish Eurofighter, the Swedish & Czech Gripen, and others.

RE: Over budget
By lewisc on 2/5/2007 5:25:29 PM , Rating: 2
Am I the only one (from Europe) wondering which European nation is lining up for a war with America? I know you were posing a hypothetical, but even so!

RE: Over budget
By bobm on 2/4/2007 11:34:17 PM , Rating: 3
One reason for the reduction in the number of aircraft ordered is in addition to the huge run up in cost the development of unmanned aircraft has advanced faster than expected and the F22 will serve as more of a transition force to tide the military over until UAV's enter service in number and to also demonstrate next generation technology which is being incorporated in UAV's. The cost overruns are disappointing and worrying but the next generation of aircraft for the military will be far more capable than the F22 without the risk to pilot lives and costs should be more manageable. And the fatigue problem you reference is not a design flaw but a manufacturing shortcoming that can be more easily corrected with tighter quality control.

RE: Over budget
By ADDAvenger on 2/4/2007 11:58:01 PM , Rating: 2
How do UAVs do in dogfights, isn't lag a problem? People curse satellite internet because its ping times are so high, I imagine there'd be the same problems with UAVs (ie over enemy territory where there are no land-based trancievers in range).

RE: Over budget
By stromgald on 2/5/07, Rating: -1
RE: Over budget
By saratoga on 2/5/2007 2:52:43 AM , Rating: 4
Lag isn't a significant problem because the signals sent and recieved are compressed and information is simplified to the bare essentials. It also helps that the military has much better bandwidth than you think.

Lag generally refers to latency, not bandwidth, so having lots of bandwidth does not make a large difference. Using compression tends to actually make it worse.

The reason satellite internet is so slow is because the US military restricts the frequencies used so that they can maintain much higher bandwidth for themselves. I think I read something about them releasing some rstricted frequencies back to the public a little while ago to help with satellite communications.

It has nothing to do with bandwidth. Sat is slow because you use a phone line to upload, or at best a very low power uplink transmitter. Then you have to do with the speed of light issue, which means your latency will always be horrible. Some systems have a 1+ second ping because of this. It doesn't matter if you have a 1GB/s downlink, with a 1 second ping, its going to feel slow.

RE: Over budget
By Araemo on 2/5/2007 9:15:10 AM , Rating: 4
You're all missing the point. Satellite usually = geosynchronous satellite.

Geosynchronous orbit is 35,786km above the surface of the earth.

Assuming your transmitter is at the equator, (35,786km from the satellite, best case scenario), your signal moving at the speed of light, the minimum one way delay(Base station to satellite to UAV/receiver) is ~.24 seconds.

Your 'ping' is a bare minimum of ~.48 seconds, or as is more normally listed: 480ms. That's significant lag to most FPS and flight sim players. ;P There is no way to reduce that short of putting the satellite in a lower orbit, or using direct-transmit rather than satellite-bounced communications. I find the latter far more likely on the battlefield.

If you move north or south from the equator, your physical straight line distance to the satellite only increases, so lag can never be better for a geosynchronous satellite.

To the guy who said its slow because you're uploading over dialup: You're only talking about consumer satellite broadband, and only some brands thereof. There are pure-satellite consumer broadband services, but they're overpriced and slow. ;)

RE: Over budget
By Dactyl on 2/5/2007 3:30:46 AM , Rating: 4
isn't lag a problem?
Only if the U.S.A.F. uses Yahoo! DSL.

Also, I heard they're equipping both the drones and ground stations with KillerNICs.

UAVs, for the next 10 years at the very least, will only use missiles and not cannons in air-to-air combat. The question is, how much autonomy can we give them (so they can think for themselves in terms of dodging/shooting with quick reflexes?). It would be nice if 1 computer operator could control a dozen combat UAVs, instead of flying each one like a video game.

I, for one, welcome our autonomous death machine overlords.

RE: Over budget
By The Sword 88 on 2/5/2007 12:00:40 AM , Rating: 2
UAV will never entirely replace pilots. A machine just cnat fly like a person can. Machines dotn ahve feelings or instincts or other thinsg a pilot needs.

RE: Over budget
By joust on 2/5/2007 12:13:19 AM , Rating: 3
Instinct and feelings are needed to stay alive. But when you're a drone (among 10,000 others) and survival is no longer vital, those no longer serve you.

Actually, the lag doesn't matter too much when you think about it. Just flood the area with thousands of drones. The 1 second delay might result in a couple getting killed, but so what? Your drone factory will just pump out another at a fraction of the cost of a manned aircraft (and pilot).

You also don't need a man in the loop at all times; the system could be one where the target is predesignated. Additionally, with computers getting better yearly, you can really outsource most control (such as flying) to the computer. In fact, that's what autopilot is.

RE: Over budget
By Felofasofa on 2/5/2007 12:56:07 AM , Rating: 2
Wrong, UAV's can pull g's and maneuvers that no pilot can without passing out. Even current planes like F16's can pull a lot higher g's than pilots can withstand. Point is people are the weak link, the future is with the little robot planes, and you can bet your sweet ass China's gonna make zillions of em. Watch out boys the end of "Pax Americana" is coming, here comes the "Empire of the Chin"

RE: Over budget
By stromgald on 2/5/07, Rating: 0
RE: Over budget
By cheetah2k on 2/5/2007 1:19:54 AM , Rating: 5
I doubt China has even close to the technology required to build a UAV. At least not one that can fight

Hang on, you're talking about the country where the majority of radio controlled tech is made?

Don't under-estimate the chinese mate. They have more borrowed tech than any other country in the world. They are also highly advanced in the design & manufacture of electronics.

I live in Hong Kong mate. You would be surprised by the stuff you can find here.

RE: Over budget
By saratoga on 2/5/2007 2:54:17 AM , Rating: 3
I doubt China has even close to the technology required to build a UAV. At least not one that can fight. For recon, they can probably do it.

Yeah they only build all our wireless devices. What do they know about wireless devices.

RE: Over budget
By stromgald on 2/5/2007 11:25:30 AM , Rating: 2
Um, do you people not read what I post? I said they could probably make recon UAVs, but not UCAVs.

They have the technology for sending a receiving signals, but that doesn't really give them anywhere close to the knowledge required to build a flight control system or anything "fly-by-wire". The computers and more specifically, the software onboard a UCAV is what will be the deciding factor.

Flight dynamics is another critical area they are lacking. China has almost zero experience in building aircraft. The vast majority of their aircraft have come from the Russians, US, or Europe. I highly doubt that they have the experience needed to build a advanced flight control system. At best, they could have a remote controlled business jet with missiles in the next 10 years. It's possible that the Russians sell them something, but I don't think the Russians will spend the money on a advanced UCAV and sell large amounts to China.

RE: Over budget
By ira176 on 2/5/07, Rating: 0
RE: Over budget
By dgingeri on 2/5/2007 1:25:40 PM , Rating: 4
The F-22 has gone over budget by a factor of four: the Air Force wanted to buy 700, but now will buy fewer than 200.

you also have to figure in that the project for these have been going on since I wans in high school. it's been almost 20 years is development. I still have the Pop-Sci magazine where I first heard about this project with the X-22 and the X-23, dated in 1989. Inflation alone covers most of the new cost of these planes.

Then also figure in the lower defense budgets of recent years compared to the 80's and 90's. in adjusted dollars, the military has less than half the money to spend that they did in 1990.

The air force really doesn't need many more of these planes. 200 will defend us just fine.

RE: Over budget
By obeseotron on 2/5/2007 2:36:35 PM , Rating: 3
Virtually every military project goes over budget, it's sorta the nature of the beast.

Step 1. Military wants new stuff, writes up lowball estimate for Congress.
Step 2. Military contractors promise to make new stuff at lower price, because they need the contract.
Step 3. Congress says OK, but only if a piece of the new thing is made in practically every district in the country.
Step 4. With project approved, actual development and testing begins, almost always far exceeding the estimated cost.
Step 5. Congress gets upset, but is unwilling to cancel a project that brings home pork to their district. Eventually they scale back original goals of the project.

Everyone gets something they want, the military gets new stuff, albiet not as much as they wanted. Contractor gets his contract and makes money, and Congress gets it's pork.

RE: Over budget
By Mclendo06 on 2/6/2007 12:28:52 AM , Rating: 2
The F-22 has gone over budget by a factor of four: the Air Force wanted to buy 700, but now will buy fewer than 200.

You just alluded to a major reason that the aircraft is so over budget. It isn't simply an overrun in cost per aircraft. The more you build, the less each one costs. When the Air Force says they want 700, then decides that they only want 200, the cost is going to go up by a lot because you still have to pay the development costs for the aircraft no matter how many you build. I'm not saying this is the only reason, and yes, the plane does cost more than it was supposed to - even if there were still 700 being ordered, but it is pretty safe to say that the cuts in production have a lot to do with the factor of four cost overrun you are talking about.

Is it just me???
By Macuser89 on 2/5/2007 12:09:55 AM , Rating: 3
Or is this the sexist aircraft ever built. Long live lockheed.

RE: Is it just me???
By stromgald on 2/5/2007 12:48:39 AM , Rating: 2
You should check out the competition design from NorthropGrumman for the ATF program (which spawned the F-22). Do a search for the YF-23 to find it. It was much sleeker and revolutionay IMO. Some of the reasons the YF-23 wasn't chosen were the slightly higher cost and the changes that would have been required of current missiles and those associated costs.

RE: Is it just me???
By gorobei on 2/5/2007 6:38:22 AM , Rating: 2
yes, the YF-23 Blackwidow was ten times better looking and performed slightly better in the stealth tests. But there were a couple of "official" reasons it wasn't picked.

first, no thrust vectoring because the original design requirements from the USAF didn't specify it. NorthropGrumman went for a pure steath approach on the theory that it wouldn't need to dogfight and wouldn't need the turning power of thrustvectoring nozzles. Second, the YF23 left visible wingtip boundry layer trails at high turn rates which deminished its stealthiness during dogfighting. (I would think these would have been trivial issues and easily fixed.)
A more important reason was that at the time, the USAF had just found out that Northrop's missile division had sold them thousands of defective missile guidance and fusing systems, effectively bilking them out of billions of dollars. They were unlikely to reward Northrop with an even bigger contract.

also, the asraam missiles which both planes were supposed to use were smaller than the AIM7 sparrows currently in use. incompatibility with the older sparrow is a red herring, since the AIM7 still requires the launch platform to radar illuminate the target during the early part of its flight.(a stealth fighter shooting out big beams of radar illumination for its missiles is anathema to steath)

RE: Is it just me???
By yacoub on 2/5/2007 8:20:03 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, over the years, Lockheed designs have had much more sex appeal than Northrop's.

RE: Is it just me???
By decapitator666 on 2/5/2007 9:39:06 AM , Rating: 3
SR71 blackbird.. thank you... all drawn with a slide ruler

By AlmostExAMD on 2/5/2007 4:27:24 AM , Rating: 2
Speaking of shooting down Satellites, Wow China shot down a satellite, Hahahaha
Only 20+ years too late as both Russia and U.S.A. tested Anti-Satellite technology in the 80's! U.S. shot down one of it's own in 1985, Both countries stopped because of concern from falling debris!
As for only 200 F22's, THAT IS A LOT of firepower, Don't underestimate the capabilities that one fighter/bomber can do on it's own, They pack enough juice to wipe out a small city!
Also it would not surprise me if America has seen the light of day and realises that unmanned aircraft is the future, The only limiting factor of modern fighters IS THE PILOT not being able to handle the high G's, Unmanned craft would push that limit way beyond what is humanly possible!

RE: F22's
By Dribble on 2/5/2007 5:06:55 AM , Rating: 2
So America threatens china, china shoots down $100,000,000,000 worth of us satellites with a few cheap missiles. Obviously I doubt china ever would - but Iran could also develop this tech pretty easily and just might....

As for the F22 - great plane, but I bet in the real world with *tweaked* radars they aren't invisible any longer, and when that just makes them stupidly expensive for what they are.

RE: F22's
By JimFear on 2/5/2007 7:57:51 AM , Rating: 2
I thought they used some kind of laser to blast it rather than a conventional missile?

RE: F22's
By mino on 2/5/2007 8:45:24 PM , Rating: 2
Lasers are expensive, therefore US plans to use them.
Missiles alre el-cheapo, therefore the chinese will use them...

Simple as that.

Someone remmemer that joke with US spending milions to invent space-pen while russians using pencils?


By Xorp on 2/5/2007 12:42:48 AM , Rating: 2
Is this the fighter plane that can hover?

RE: .
By miahallen on 2/5/2007 1:20:33 AM , Rating: 2
No...but it does use "thrust vectoring" to earn it's STOL capabilities.

RE: .
By cheetah2k on 2/5/2007 1:24:40 AM , Rating: 2
F-35 mate, and its the VSTOL version (there are 3 versions of the F35)

By yacoub on 2/5/2007 6:52:27 AM , Rating: 2
Pictures obviously won't work here, but the text will:

USAF Seeks More F-22s
Air Force Magazine, VA
February 2007 , Vol. 90, No. 2

By Marc V. Schanz, Associate Editor
The Air Force plans to ask the Defense Department to let it buy more than the 183 F-22s authorized in last year’s Quadrennial Defense Review, according to a service official.

Kenneth E. Miller, a special assistant to Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne, told a Washington, D.C., aerospace symposium in December that the Air Force is thinking about how it would seek an additional 20 F-22s in Fiscal 2010, after the conclusion of the current Raptor program.

A senior service official told Air Force Magazine that the comment was “something of a trial balloon,” to see what reaction there might be. There were no nasty comments from Congress or pledges to oppose the move within the Defense Department.

An Air Force spokesman said the comment was about planning and did not reflect an actual request, as of mid-December.

A Lockheed Martin spokesman said the company had not been informed of any plans to buy more than the 183 F-22s now on order. However, the F-22 line will begin to shut down in 2008 if no further orders are booked.

The service has long maintained that it requires 381 F-22s to fill out its 10 Air and Space Expeditionary Forces with one squadron of F-22s each. With just 183 aircraft, it can only equip seven AEFs with a reduced squadron size of 18 aircraft each.

February 2007 , Vol. 90, No. 2

The F-22 Raptor isn’t a novelty anymore. It’s in squadron service, pulling duty around the world.
The Raptor in the Real World
By John A. Tirpak, Executive Editor

In little more than a year, the Air Force has transformed its newly operational F-22 into something remarkable—a weapon of true intimidation. The Raptor has proved itself time and time again in USAF’s toughest wargames. In live exercises, it has trounced the best “opponents” USAF can muster. It hits them at unprecedented speeds and altitudes—and with impunity.

The F-22 does this while in the hands of operators—not test pilots, but rank and file fighter pilots. They consider it to be nearly as reliable as mature F-15 and F-16 fighters. Moreover, the Raptor has shown capabilities that may vastly amplify the power of the rest of the force.

In short, the F-22 is delivering on even the most ambitious claims made for it.

The 1st Fighter Wing, located at Langley AFB, Va., now operates two 20-fighter F-22 squadrons. The 27th FS, which in December 2005 became the first operational unit, is today pulling real-world alert as part of an Air and Space Expeditionary Force (AEF) deployment to Kadena AB, Japan. The 27th’s sister squadron, the 94th FS, is at Red Flag exercises in Nevada this month, marking the Raptor’s operational debut in that wargame.

In May, the 94th will also deploy on an AEF rotation. Its destination has not been announced. A third F-22 squadron, to be based in Alaska, is now taking shape.

Lt. Col. Wade Tolliver, 27th FS commander, said his unit has been working toward the Kadena deployment for about two years.

“We worked hard to bring this jet to initial operational capability,” Tolliver said in an interview in his Langley office, “and, when we accomplished that in December ’05, the celebration was great, but the next day, we got everybody in the squadron [together, to] make sure they understand the focus: what’s next. Well, AEF 5 and 6 [has] ... been our focus ever since.”

F-22s line up on the flight line at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, in preparation for Northern Edge, the Raptor’s first major exercise. (Lockheed Martin photo by Eric Hehs)

F-22s line up on the flight line at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, in preparation for Northern Edge, the Raptor’s first major exercise. (Lockheed Martin photo by Eric Hehs)

Big Contribution
He added that, “AEFs aside, we’re sitting here at Langley with two squadrons the COCOMs [combatant commanders] can call on right now, anywhere in the world.” In any conflict in which the US is engaged, said Tolliver, the F-22 can make a big contribution.

“The jet’s performing very well for where it is at this stage—probably better than any other fighter that we’ve brought on line,” he said. It all adds up to “a significantly increased combat capability” compared to what the F-22 had when IOC was declared.

The F-22 has had a busy year, prompted in part by circumstance: Last summer, Langley’s runways had to be closed for major repair, obliging all flying units at the base to relocate for two months. The 1st Fighter Wing dispatched its F-22s to multiple locations, where it could demonstrate or confirm new capabilities.

A dozen F-22s, flown by a cadre of handpicked pilots and kept in shape by the 27th’s best maintainers, went to Northern Edge, a two-week joint-force wargame in Alaska. Participants included 5,000 troops in Army ground units, Marine Corps ground units, Navy Aegis cruisers and aircraft, and Air Force aircraft ranging from fighters and search and rescue helicopters to E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft.

Col. Thomas Bergeson, the 1st Operations Group commander, said it was the largest exercise for him in 20 or so years. In one Northern Edge engagement, USAF and its sister services put more than 40 fighters in the air at once, as well as E-2C Hawkeye and E-3 AWACS aircraft.

To confront the F-22-led “Blue Air” collection, the joint force mustered its best “Red Air” threat—front-line F-15s, F-16s, and Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets. The F-22’s team blitzed the opposition with a favorable 241-to-two kill ratio. What’s more, the two lost aircraft were F-15Cs, not F-22s. The Raptors came through the engagements untouched.

In Red Flags, Bergeson said, “you have a great day if you lose only 10 percent of your forces.” The massively lopsided victory for the stealthy F-22-led force was unprecedented.

“They [the Red Air adversaries] couldn’t see us,” Tolliver said. This was true even when the opponents were assisted by AWACS. “And that’s what makes the F-22 special,” Tolliver went on. “I’m out there and I have weapons like an F-15C or an F-16, but ... I’m basically invisible to the other guy’s radar.”

The 241-to-two record was amassed over two weeks of air engagements. Tolliver noted that, in such battles, Red Air units were allowed to regenerate and return to the fight, but lost Blue forces could not. Even with such handicaps, in the largest single engagement, F-22-led forces claimed 83 enemies to one loss, after facing down an opposing force that had generated or regenerated 103 adversary fighters.

And what about the two losses?

“If you see numbers where you never have a loss, I don’t think you’re training to your full ability,” Tolliver said. “If you don’t, at some point, have that simulated loss, we’re not going to push ourselves to be as capable as we are.”

Lt. Col. Dirk Smith, commander of the 94th FS, said that these aircraft losses stemmed from the aggressiveness of pilots, which was a good thing.

“They wanted to fly to the merge, they wanted to show” what such a fighter package can do “when you’re highly outnumbered.” Such exercises are “the perfect place to learn that kind of lesson ... so that, when it comes to real bullets flying, they’ve learned that.”
Two F-22s fly over Langley AFB, Va., in fall 2005. Langley’s 1st FW now operates two squadrons of Raptors, each with 20 aircraft. (USAF photo by TSgt. Ben Bloker)

Two F-22s fly over Langley AFB, Va., in fall 2005. Langley’s 1st FW now operates two squadrons of Raptors, each with 20 aircraft. (USAF photo by TSgt. Ben Bloker)

“No Problem”
Although the Air Force would prefer that F-22 pilots destroy their targets at long range, there’s no penalty if pilots get close enough to use heat-seeking missiles or guns.

Bergeson said he and a captain, flying F-22s, engaged six F-16s at close range, but it was “no problem.” “We have a lot of capability in the close-in regime,” noted Smith.

Red Air forces in Northern Edge posed a threat stiffer than what real-world enemies might generate, Tolliver added. “These are some of the best pilots in the world flying the best machines in the world,” he said, “so we’re fighting a pretty lethal threat out there.”

The exercise called for alternating air-to-air and ground-attack engagements. The F-22s dropped 26 inert 1,000-pound Joint Direct Attack Munitions, responding to close air support requests from ground troops. It was the first time Raptors had coordinated with ground-based joint tactical air controllers, and “every one of those [targets they designated] was a hit,” Tolliver said. For some of the Raptor pilots, it was the first time they’d released real ordnance from the F-22.

Tolliver cautioned, “We’re not an A-10; we’re not an F-16. We don’t do close support like that, but we do carry two 1,000-pound JDAMs, and we can support that ground troop, and that’s ... what we proved.” He noted that in the future, the F-22 will be rigged to carry up to eight 250-pound Small Diameter Bombs, so USAF’s F-22 fleet is going to increase its ground-attack power.

Tolliver noted another eye-opening aspect of the exercise.

Even after using up all eight of their air-to-air missiles, he said, the F-22s did not have to leave the fight. The Raptors, protected by their stealthiness, could fly far ahead of the rest of their force, using their powerful onboard sensors to fill in the gaps where AWACS could not see, such as behind mountains. Raptor pilots could talk their non-Raptor colleagues into the vicinity of enemies no one else could spot. The F-22s were acting, in effect, as forward air controllers.

“Being airborne, with our sensors, ... basically increased the combat capability of every single asset that was sitting out there, including the AWACS, including the EA-6Bs,” said Tolliver.
Lt. Col. Dirk Smith, commander of the 94th Fighter Squadron at Langley, speaks with reporters after delivering the unit’s first F-22 in March 2006. (USAF photo by TSgt. Ben Bloker)

Lt. Col. Dirk Smith, commander of the 94th Fighter Squadron at Langley, speaks with reporters after delivering the unit’s first F-22 in March 2006. (USAF photo by TSgt. Ben Bloker)

Advantage Raptor
The F-22’s futuristic avionics suite, Tolliver said, allows the Raptor pilot to see all air and ground threats in a single picture, “without my having to build it mentally in my mind.” It is “an amazing advantage for a fighter pilot,” he asserted.

Overall, Tolliver went on, the exercise was “a great opportunity to work with all those assets and find out what the Raptor really does bring to the fight.”

Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne has said that he wants all friendly platforms in an area to be able to see what an F-22 sees with its systems. At present, this kind of “common air picture” is not attainable because existing systems cannot transmit F-22 displays to other aircraft. Pilots must communicate by voice. Several F-22s, however, can share the same situation display. Data links that will allow the transmission of more information to other aircraft is one of the planned improvements for the program.

Though the F-22’s Northern Edge combat victory was impressive, the Raptor reliability story may have been the bigger news. Of the 105 sorties assigned to the Raptor, it flew 102. That signifies an astounding 97 percent mission effective rate, Tolliver noted. He pointed out that it was an unprecedented achievement for any brand-new fighter.

“In all the things we did at Northern Edge, I think that ... is the biggest success story,” said Tolliver. “We proved ... that this jet can go on the road, away from its [support] structure here at Langley, ... and be able to generate those kinds of sorties [outside the continental US], and make it happen with that kind of effectiveness. We proved we can be an immediate contributor to the fight.”

The 27th took with it about 170 short tons of cargo, somewhat more than would be needed for an F-15 squadron. When it has been flown for about 100,000 hours, the F-22 will have achieved what is considered “maturity” and will require less baggage on a deployment. Maturity is still about five or six years away.

“We’re still kind of learning which parts fail, for the supply chain,” Tolliver said. In future deployments, it won’t be necessary to take as many spares since the unit will have an ever-better handle on what it needs to take—and what it really doesn’t.

While the 27th was fighting the massed Red Air battles in Alaska, the 94th FS, commanded by Smith, flew to Hill AFB, Utah, for a different kind of action. Smith took 16 airplanes along, which was all of the 94th’s airplanes as well as a few from the 27th that didn’t go to Northern Edge. His force grew to 20 airplanes over the summer, as four more Raptors arrived from the Lockheed Martin plant in Marietta, Ga.

At the Utah Test and Training Range, the 94th’s F-22 fighters dropped 40 JDAMs while in supersonic flight. It was further validation of a capability that had been demonstrated in testing just once, with one bomb. It was also the first supersonic weapons delivery by an operational unit.

Just before the F-22s arrived, the test community cleared the Raptor for release of JDAMs at Mach 1.5, from an altitude of 50,000 feet. At that altitude and speed, Smith said, “we’re dropping on coordinates from quite a long ways away.” The rounds were inert, but were released in a variety of ways so as to further “validate the weapons employment zone” for the F-22’s main ground-attack weapon.
During Northern Edge, Raptors from Langley dropped 26 inert JDAMS, such as the ones seen here. All scored direct hits. (Lockheed Martin photo by Eric Hehs)

During Northern Edge, Raptors from Langley dropped 26 inert JDAMS, such as the ones seen here. All scored direct hits. (Lockheed Martin photo by Eric Hehs)

On Target
“They were all direct hits,” Smith said. The JDAMs do not need to be altered for supersonic delivery.

Smith noted that his group included the least-experienced F-22 pilots and maintainers, many of whom were getting on-the-job training. “I was just completely blown away by how these brand-new [people] figured out how to get the job done,” Smith said.

During the time at Hill, without the F-22’s regular support facilities, the maintainers turned in a utilization rate of 17.9 sorties per aircraft, per month, compared to about 20 for the F-15C, which is a mature system.

Smith said it was worth noting that the F-22 is no longer a pampered machine that has experts standing around to take care of the slightest glitch. “Here it comes, out of the factory, and you give it to a 26-year-old pilot and 20- to 22-year-old crew chief, and they figure it out ... and figure it out fast.”

While at Hill, the 94th FS sent some airplanes to Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, to demonstrate the F-22’s ability to deploy to an away base, recover at yet a third base, operate from there as a transient, and come back to the deployment base.

From Hill, the F-22s flew down to Tyndall AFB, Fla., where the 94th demonstrated live shots with real AIM-120C radar-guided and AIM-9 heat-seeking missiles, marking yet another first—that of an operational F-22 shooting real missiles and killing real aircraft.

Not many drones “died” in the Weapon System Evaluation Program piece of the road trip, because the weapons test organization has a limited budget for missiles and drones alike. Weather claims some sorties, as do required functions such as clearing the ocean test range of fishing boats. Drones may have mechanical problems. Other tests may take precedence.

“About 94 major and minor miracles” all have to happen to conduct a live missile shot, Smith noted.

Some shots were fired at the very edge of the employment envelope in hopes that the missile would score a “lethal miss,” allowing the drone to survive and live to “fight” another day. Three AIM-120C-5 AMRAAMs and 13 AIM-9M Sidewinders were fired, because that’s what the test budget would allow.

Why is shooting a live missile such a big deal?

Smith said the missile launches help pilots to know what a real missile launch will look, sound, and feel like, so they will know when it looks right and when it doesn’t.
Two aircraft maintainers from the 27th Fighter Squadron at Langley leave the flight line after checking out the F-22s. (Lockheed Martin photo by Eric Hehs)

Two aircraft maintainers from the 27th Fighter Squadron at Langley leave the flight line after checking out the F-22s. (Lockheed Martin photo by Eric Hehs)

Practice It First
“When I push the pickle button, it takes about a second, time slows down, it seems like it takes an eternity, and you hear a clunk, and you hear a big roar, and you see a big fireball and a smoke trail, and then all of a sudden, it’s gone,” Smith said of the experience. “And what does it look like if it’s guiding right? And what’s it look like if it’s not guiding right and you need to shoot another one?” The first time a pilot experiences this should not be in combat, he added.

Likewise, the experiences of the ground crews in handling, loading, and wiring up real missiles that are going to be fired is different than working with training shapes or inert rounds.

Also at Tyndall, the 94th’s pilots got a chance to use the F-22’s internal gun—another operational first—by firing at a target dragged by a Learjet.

Northern Edge, the supersonic drops, and the missile firings: all were part of the workup to get the 27th and 94th ready for their AEF deployments, Tolliver said. Most AEF units get to go to a Red Flag as part of their workup; Northern Edge counted as the 27th’s Red Flag equivalent.

Maintenance continues to improve on the F-22 as experience is accumulated with the airplane. Col. Dain West, chief of F-22 maintenance at the 1st Fighter Wing, noted that, as good as things are now, they will improve, as “the book” on the airplane is written.

He doesn’t have “a whole lot of well-seasoned mid- and senior-level NCOs that have been working on the plane forever,” and those who are there don’t have the benefit of years of tech orders that describe how best to diagnose and repair problems.

“We’re writing the book. And while you’re writing the book, you’re also trying to train new guys, with a book that’s continuing to be updated.” The “book” will also form the basis of an Air Education and Training Command curriculum in F-22 maintenance, to be ready by 2008.

The F-22 is helping to make that go faster, however, with the most advanced self-diagnostic system ever fielded. The airplane will tell the maintainer about any anomalies during a flight, so he can check them out as soon as it lands. Frequent updates, in which contractors update the software to reduce the number of false alarms, help streamline the work even more.

West said there has been strong teamwork between the Air Force and its contractors on the F-22, what Smith called “the blue shirts and the polo shirts.”

He also said that mission capable rates, a common measure of how well aircraft are performing mechanically, are hovering at “about 70 to 75 percent,” which is “just below” the Air Force-desired 75 to 78 percent.
Two F-22s of the 27th FS fly in formation with an F-15 over the Virginia countryside during a training sortie. (USAF photo by TSgt. Ben Bloker)

Two F-22s of the 27th FS fly in formation with an F-15 over the Virginia countryside during a training sortie. (USAF photo by TSgt. Ben Bloker)

Fewer Fighters
About the only thing holding back the F-22 program at this point is the planned inventory. The Air Force was compelled to accept a fleet of 183 Raptors as one result of last year’s Quadrennial Defense Review. The service has long maintained that it requires a minimum of 381 to meet its obligations.

The Air Force has accommodated to the lower number by making changes at nearly every level. The 1st FW was to have fielded three squadrons of F-22s, for a total of 72 aircraft, or 24 combat-ready fighters per squadron. Now, the size of the squadrons has been trimmed to 18 (plus two attrition spares per squadron). Moreover, the 1st FW will field just two squadrons of Raptors.

“Post-QDR, when the decision was made to reduce to ... 183 Raptors, then the decision was made to field them at seven full squadrons at 20 jets per squadron,” Bergeson said. The 1st FW’s third squadron—the 71st FS—will keep its F-15Cs.

The third F-22 squadron will stand up at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, next year.

Already, the first Elmendorf-bound aircraft are arriving at Langley. Pilots and maintainers will gain experience at Langley by integrating with the 27th and 94th for a time. When Elmendorf is ready to receive the aircraft and there are enough personnel to make it work, the F-22s with the “AK” tail code will head out to Alaska.

“The pilots that we populate Elmendorf with will come from a few different locations,” Bergeson explained.

“We’ll give them some seed corn—some experienced pilots from the 1st Fighter Wing,” between six and eight who are instructors, and the rest will be drawn from other fighter types. The same model was applied in standing up the 94th.

However, peeling off pilots to give to Elmendorf, as well as the normal attrition of pilots who must leave to go to schools or new assignments, means the Raptor fleet will be chronically short of pilots for awhile. That means the pilots who do fly the type get a few more hours every month than fighter pilots in other aircraft. Smith, however, noted that this will contribute to developing a seasoned cadre of F-22 pilots more rapidly than would normally be the case.

“We define 100 hours [in the aircraft] as ‘experienced,'" Smith said, and this benchmark has affected the transition of Virginia Air National Guard crews to their new assignment working on the F-22 at Langley.

Under the Base Realignment and Closure commission, the 192nd Fighter Wing from Richmond, Va., is giving up its F-16s and becoming an “associate” unit at Langley. Members of the ANG unit will work alongside the 1st FW’s personnel in almost all fields, from maintainer to pilot. However, Smith said it will take some time before the F-22 can be a typical Guard pilot assignment.

Not Smart
“Both parties agreed, we didn’t think it would be smart” to put a 2,500-hour F-16 pilot in the F-22 “and fly one weekend a month in a brand-new airplane,” Smith said.

“We want you to get seasoned for a period of time as a full-time guy,” but the mechanics of how this will work have yet to be decided, because ANG pilots are assigned and paid differently than active duty pilots.

“I personally think it ought to be about a year” for a pilot to work at the squadron full-time, “and then he probably has enough soaked in about the airplane to be ready to start doing part-time.”

One good thing about the ANG coming in, though, is that as the Guard maintainers and technicians become practiced with the F-22, they will stay put, helping ease the experience drain that will come as active duty personnel leave the unit.

The F-22 pilots and maintainers have few complaints about the F-22, but they are developing a wish list of things they would like to add to its impressive portfolio of capabilities. They would like to add an ability to use a dual mode bomb, able to guide either by satellite or laser, to provide a more responsive ground-attack capability. They would like to have a helmet-mounted weapons cuing system and are anxious for the day when they can transmit their comprehensive picture of the airspace to anyone in the air or on the ground who needs it.

Already in the program—improvements called “spirals”—are upgraded synthetic aperture radar, new radars (already being delivered in new aircraft), better geo-location of targets, and shadowy capabilities in airborne electronic attack. (See “Where Next With Electronic Attack?,” October 2006, p. 30.)

Bergeson said he is trying to educate the rest of the Air Force and the services as a whole about what the F-22 can offer.

“I’ve had one of my operations officers travel around to the various combatant commands and give a capabilities briefing at the classified level to all their planners, so they know what we can bring to the fight right now—what we can and can’t do.”

The regional commanders have started to “develop us into their war plans. And all the briefings have been very well received,” he said.

“As people become more familiar with the fact that we’re really here, we’re really flying, there will be more demand.” Already, however, he acknowledged that the long-anticipated F-22, with its awesome capabilities, is “right now ... a low-density, high-demand asset.”

Thunder theme

The Thunder poster was unveiled. The left hand belongs to Frank Curnutte, a representative from the new sponsor, Meijer's. The woman at left is Chris Whelan from E.ON-U.S. At right, in back, was a representative from Caesars, Edward Garruto; and Ira Salls, whose McDonald's restaurant is participating in the Thunder Funder program. Far right was Bob Lekites from UPS. (Photos by Pam Spaulding, The Courier-Journal)

Thunder theme is "Magic"
The Courier-Journal

“The Magic of Thunder” will be the theme of Thunder Over Louisville, when it kicks off the 2007 Kentucky Derby Festival April 21.

The soundtrack for the fireworks show will include songs about magic or that have the word magic in their titles.

Wayne Hettinger, Thunder’s producer, said he expects a full contingent of aircraft for the air show that will precede the fireworks. New this year will be an appearance of the Air Force’s F-22A fighter jet and the U.S. Army Sky Soldiers, an elite group of pilots flying four Cobra attack helicopters.

Mike Berry, festival president, said: “Thunder Over Louisville just seems to be bigger and better every year, and the generosity of our sponsors allows us to maintain the show at the level the pubic has come to expect.”

The festival announced that Meijer’s has signed on as a fourth major corporate sponsor of the fireworks and air show, joining three holdovers, Caesars, EON U.S. and United Parcel Service.

For the second straight year, area McDonald’s restaurants will donate part of the proceeds from some customer purchases to the Thunder Funder program, which raises money to support Thunder.

Also, a telethon will be help April 4 to give citizens a chance to pledge money to support Thunder.

Newest U.S. stealth fighters to engage in joint drill with South Korea
Yonhap News, South Korea

WASHINGTON, Feb. 1 (Yonhap) -- The newest U.S. stealth fighter, the F-22A Raptor, will be temporarily deployed in Japan this month and engage in joint drills with the South Korean Air Force, military sources here said Thursday.

Twelve Raptors are to be sent to Kadena Air Base in Japan starting on Feb. 10, in what will be the first overseas deployment of the fighter jets.

"We expect that once the F-22As are at Kadena, we will be able to begin the drills quickly," one source said.

The deployment to Japan includes about 260 personnel, including approximately 20 pilots, sources said.

The Raptor, developed by Lockheed Martin to succeed the F-15, was put into operation in December 2005.

Last month, a squadron of U.S. radar-evading F-117A Nighthawk jets and 300 airmen, arrived at Gunsan Air Base, 270 kilometers south of Seoul, for a four-month stay.

The U.S. Air Force said the deployment was part of routine training.

But North Korea has denounced the move, claiming it is aimed at preparing for a potential strike on the communist nation.

"Warplanes of the U.S. imperialist aggression troops in South Korea further aggravate the tension on the Korean Peninsula," the North's official Korean Central News Agency said.

And if you want some sexy F22 photos to make up for the lack of them here, go here:

By bigbrent88 on 2/5/2007 7:35:13 PM , Rating: 3
I live near Langley and have been to their airshows the past 2 years. Last year was incredible, tied for the best airshow I have been to. Anyways, the F-22 flight was awesome, it started with a STOL take-off into a cobra, take that russia, and did some other thrust vectoring flybys and such.
After that it just flew around behind the flightline doing more cobras and high angle flying at altitude(guess it was still testing, lol) while the rest of the show went on, concluding with a heritage flight with that F-22. Very cool, you all need to get to an airshow with one this spring.

good thing; I was worried
By Messudieh on 2/4/2007 11:10:09 PM , Rating: 2
I certainly would hope it's 'flying high' after a single year. With the comments above too, we'd be even more screwed if it wasn't considered a successful aircraft....

RE: good thing; I was worried
By melgross on 2/5/2007 12:32:30 AM , Rating: 2
It took years, and a couple of revisions, for the F15, one of the most successful fighters ever built, to reach its full potential.

By ajfink on 2/4/2007 10:26:54 PM , Rating: 3
I've been interested in these things for years, and to hear about how they utterly dominate the skies is incredible. Whether or not you're someone interested in war-tech, you've got to marvel at the level of design and engineering put into this thing. It's quite amazing!

Over Budget
By bzbrowninc on 2/5/2007 8:05:03 AM , Rating: 2
As per Janes Information Group, China is spending 20 cents of every dollar in the largest military build up in the history of the world. They are particularly focused at this time on developing a true blue water navy. Air Forces have upgraded largely to Mig 29's and they are developing the Russian next generation fighter. They have also bought the incomplete Russian air craft carrier and are attempting to develop a carrier based air craft. SOO thank you for the F-22 and the F-35. If you want to get a feel for who the Chineses are ask any Japanese National. They are scared to death.

Get real
By hellokeith on 2/5/2007 10:51:23 AM , Rating: 2
F-22 > Eurofighter > F-35 > F-15 > all the rest.

So the US has 3 of the top 4 aircraft for now and in the future.

The stealth plane shot down was pilot error, he did not retract his bomb bay doors after dropping his payload.

Wow Awesome Pic
By Blood1 on 2/5/2007 10:52:23 PM , Rating: 2
This is an amazing pic off that site. Thanks for posting that URL:

Careful this is 4300x3200 BIG!

Take off the blinders
By Maasracer on 2/6/2007 10:53:56 AM , Rating: 2
I love how some people (both pro and con) think of fighter jets like it's 1-on-1 only, like it's tennis or Greco-Roman wrestling. You have to think about ALL the players in a battle/war and the playing field itself.

The US Air Force isn't just 2000 fighters. It's also 600 aerial tankers, 150 dedicated bombers, and a bunch of radar and comm aircraft like the Sentrys and JStars. The AF gets help from a bunch of satellites that provide intel and comm. Don't forget that the US Navy has it's own air force that's better than all others save a few nations. The Navy also provides an impressive SAM capability with the Aegis combat system. Good luck to some poor stray SU30 that strays anywhere near a Naval Strike Group. And speaking of SAMs...

The USAF, I'd imagine, is more concerned about an adversary's radar/SAM network than whether they're flying 30-yr old Mirages or spankin new thrust-vectoring SU30s. So this whole jet vs jet argument is garbage. Top Gun was a MOVIE ! ! !

I'm sure glad it's our's and not the enemies...
By Beenthere on 2/5/07, Rating: -1
By PWNettle on 2/5/2007 1:12:29 AM , Rating: 2
"much cheaper than the consequences of not having it's capabilities"

Are F-22's even being used or just tested? I'm pretty sure F16's and other current tech dominate anything we currenly fight. An armed kite could dominate in Iraq.

From wiki:

"In April 2006 the cost of the F-22A is assessed by the Government Accountability Office to be $361 million per aircraft. This cost reflects the F-22A total program cost, divided by the number of jets the Air Force is programmed to buy. So far, the Air Force has invested as much as $28 billion in the Raptor's research, development and testing. That money, referred to as a "sunk cost," is already spent and is separate from money used for future decision-making, including procuring a copy of the jet.

By the time all 183 jets have been purchased, around $28 billion will have been spent on research and development, with an additional $34 billion spent on actually procuring the aircraft. This will result in a cost of about $339 million per aircraft including program. The current cost, or "fly away cost" for one additional F-22 stands at about $120 million (a.k.a. incremental cost). If the Air Force were to buy 100 more F-22s today, each plane would be less than $117 million and would continue to drop with additional aircraft purchases"

I'm all for the USA always having superior armed forces but that's still some mind-numbingly serious scratch.

By saratoga on 2/5/2007 2:56:56 AM , Rating: 3
Not really. That money will be spent over the course of years/decades. In terms of military spending, its almost nothing.

And while the F16 is great today, in 2025 it'll probably look a little less hot. Then consider 2035. And since development, training, deployment, etc take 10-20 years, its a good thing we're doing this now.

By mino on 2/5/2007 9:02:00 PM , Rating: 2
Well, F16's dominaate avery battlefield. For sure.

Unless acomparable number of anything in MiG-29/SU-27 or obove show up.

Wake up.

Wing of chinese SU-30's would wipe F16's wing off the sky pretty fast.

The strength of US air force is not in individual planes but in the whole package. Simple as that.

Also remmeber that US did NOT meet any serious enemy in battle since WW2. I is a good thing, ofcourse.

F22 power-projection ability will depend mostly on chinese ability to produce wast amounts of 4.5-gen aircraft. If the chinese can flood the sky with 1000s SU-30 class planes F22 will not get a chance.

They will see F22, you can bet.

By Ringold on 2/5/2007 9:37:02 PM , Rating: 2
And that, bud, is why we don't look to wikipedia for data from which we plan to base opinions.

Notice their questionable use of the economic term "sunk cost"; tries to make themselves sound like economists but its spun in such a way to attach maximum negative possible connotation, which is something a practitioner of the 'cold science' would never do. A master of subtle propaganda, yes, someone doing economic or financial analysis, no.

They also neglect to point out the benefits of developing the technology that will be used in other platforms (JSF is, to my understanding, a spin off) and technology that will only need to be refined or updated for future generation aircraft versus needing to be made from scratch in the future.

Far too many wiki articles fail to be devoid of value statements and fail to filter out the opinion of those writing the articles effectively; sometimes word choice, some times excluding information or complete perspective.

Wiki has its uses, but objective analysis isn't one of them. Trying to find the date Louis XIV died, perhaps good; description of anything even vaguely relating to current politics or situations, not so good.

By allnighter on 2/5/2007 1:17:15 AM , Rating: 2
... and one of the few that has the balls to say it like it is. Hat's off to the man!

"I f***ing cannot play Halo 2 multiplayer. I cannot do it." -- Bungie Technical Lead Chris Butcher
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