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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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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.

"People Don't Respect Confidentiality in This Industry" -- Sony Computer Entertainment of America President and CEO Jack Tretton
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