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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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This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

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.


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