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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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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. ;)

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