The F-22 Raptor: Program & EventsApr 09, 2013 14:12 UTC by Defense Industry Daily staff
April 8/13: Squadron stand-down. The USAF is standing down 17 combat-coded squadrons in response to budget cuts that reduced the flying hours budget by $591 million for the remainder of FY 2013. The grounding includes F-22As from the 1st Fighter Wing’s 94th Fighter Squadron at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, VA, who are returning from the Foal Eagle exercise in South Korea. Gannett’s Military Times.
April 4/13: Some restrictions lifted. The F-22 Raptor fleet’s prohibition on venturing more than 30 minutes flight from suitable airfields is removed, after modifications to aircrew life-support equipment were completed across the fleet. F-22 crews have also resumed their aerospace control alert mission in Alaska after the Automatic Back-up Oxygen System (ABOS) was installed in the F-22s at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
Altitude restrictions still remain for some of the fleet. Altitude restrictions for training flights remain for non-ABOS aircraft; however, those restrictions will be removed as each aircraft is modified. Officials expect combat fleet completion by July 2014. USAF | KHON 2 Hawaii.
The 5th-generation F-22A Raptor fighter program has been the subject of fierce controversy, with advocates and detractors aplenty. On the one hand, the aircraft offers full stealth, revolutionary radar and sensor capabilities, dual air-air and air-ground SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses) excellence, the ability to cruise above Mach 1 without afterburners, thrust-vectoring super-maneuverability… and a ridiculously lopsided kill record in exercises against the best American fighters. On the other hand, critics charged that it was too expensive, too limited, and cripples the USAF’s overall force structure.
Meanwhile, close American allies like Australia, Japan and Israel, and other allies like Korea, were pressing the USA to abandon its “no export” policy. Most already fly F-15s, but several were interested in an export version of the F-22 in order to help them deal with advanced – and advancing – Russian-designed aircraft, air-to-air missiles, and surface-to-air missile systems. That would have broadened the F-22 fleet in several important ways, but the US political system would not or could not respond.
This DID FOCUS Article covers both sides of the F-22 controversies in the USA and abroad, and tracks ongoing contracts. It has been restored to full public access, as the F-22 program of record winds down into maintenance mode.
The F-22 Raptor: Key Capabilities
At the same time, the Raptor has done extremely well in exercises against F-15s, with reported kill ratios of up to 108:0 during Exercise Northern Edge 2006. While it’s always wise to take such figures with a grain of salt until one has reviewed the exercise setup and conditions in full, the raw number is impressive. During the 1970s and 1980s, for instance, F-15s matched up against far less sophisticated F-5s generally had kill ratios of about 8:1, which dropped close to parity when greatly outnumbered. That hasn’t happened with the F-22, even when paired against the USA’s most advanced current fighters. Advocates contend that the F-22′s combination of stealth, vectored thrust, range, advanced surveillance electronics with potential electronic warfare applications, and sustained supersonic flight (aka “supercruise”) arguably place it in a class by itself among the world’s combat aircraft. Key advantages include:
Embedded Sensors + Sensor Fusion: The goal is to have the pilot focus on dealing with the enemy, rather than dealing with the aircraft. Right now, fighters have multiple sensors and information-sharing links, shown on multiple displays that often require button pressing to switch back and forth. The F-22′s central integrated processor (CIP) offers the equivalent of 2 Cray supercomputers, used for “sensor fusion” that aims to put all of the information the plane is gathering into one simple display. Furthermore, a radical design departure embeds passive sensors for various wavelengths all around the plane’s structure. This greatly improves first detection ability, even with its radar off; and the combination with sensor fusion means that F-22 pilots are almost certain to know where their opponents are, long before the reverse is true.
The F-35 shares this approach. It uses even more modern internal electronics, and a wider array of sensors. Including infrared and TV sensors that can be used to target both aerial and ground foes at the same level as top-end targeting pods and air-to-air IRST (Infra-Red Search and Track) systems.
All-Aspect Stealth: The F-22A offers full stealth, unlike the F-35 which has a very good radar profile from the front, a less stealthy profile from the sides, and a least stealthy profile from the rear quarter. Note that stealth is not invisibility. It merely shortens the range at which an aircraft can be detected by opponents on the ground or in the air, and makes radar lock for engagements harder to achieve and to keep. The F-22′s stealth level shortens those ranges considerably from all enemy positions, even those that use new VHF radars. See this surprising review from Red Flag “Colonial Flag” 2007, as an Australian exchange pilot offers his impressions:
“I can’t see the [expletive deleted] thing,” said RAAF Squadron Leader Stephen Chappell, exchange F-15 pilot in the 65th Aggressor Squadron. “It won’t let me put a weapons system on it, even when I can see it visually through the canopy. [Flying against the F-22] annoys the hell out of me.”
Note that an EA-18G aircraft has managed a radar-guided missile kill on an F-22 in combat exercises, so it can be done. Again, stealth isn’t invisibility. What it can do, is make the F-22 a very slippery opponent, able to engage or disengage from combat much more easily than previous radar-age fighters. That’s especially important during attacks against the most sophisticated anti-aircraft missile sites, enemy AWACS aircraft, and other difficult targets. Those high-end scenarios would become problematic in a plane that had position-dependent vulnerabilities on the way in, or became a much bigger target when it’s flying away.
Agile-beam AESA Radar: Turning on a radar can be like turning on a flashlight in a dark field – it can be seen farther than the holder can see with it. Northrop Grumman’s AN/APG-77 radar uses hard-to-detect “agile frequency” beams that are very hard for enemies to “see”. Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radars are becoming more common on fighters, due to their improved reliability, power, and flexibility; F-15s are being retrofitted, and the F-35 will carry the smaller but similar AN/APG-81. Future AESA capabilities may also include electronic warfare and high-bandwidth communications.
Supercruise: The ability to fly above Mach 1 without using afterburners. Most fighters stay below Mach 1 for the vast majority of their service lives – including in combat – because of how much fuel is consumed. The Raptor’s 2 Pratt & Whitney F119 engines offer 35,000 pounds of thrust each, giving F-22s the ability to cruise at Mach 1.5+ without using fuel-guzzling afterburners.
Advantages include missiles and bombs that fly farther when launched at supersonic speeds, longer range combat air patrols with more time spent over target, the ability to engage and disengage more easily against non-supercruising enemy fighters, and less time for enemies around high-value or highly-defended targets to spot an incoming F-22. When combined with the F-22′s stealth and stretched missile ranges, it becomes especially hard for enemies to protect high value aerial assets like AWACS planes and aerial tankers.
To date, the F-22 is the only operational aircraft capable of consistent supercruise while carrying a full load of weapons. The Eurofighter Typhoon comes closest, with supercruise slightly above Mach 1 when flying at high altitude, and armed with just 4 underbody MRAAM and 2 wingtip SRAAM missiles. The F-35 Lightning II will not supercruise, and design and airflow limitations mean that this won’t change. Lockheed Martin says the F-35 is designed for better transonic acceleration that current top-line fighters, but outside studies are less confident, and transonic sustainability remains the key tactical question. As fighters like the Russo-Indian T50/PAK-FA come on board, and 4+ generation fighters get major updates, more fighters may become capable of tactical supercruise.
Super-maneuverability: The F119 engines can direct their thrust 20 degrees up or down using movable nozzles, an ability called thrust vectoring. That changes the plane’s aerodynamic limitations, allowing tighter and more sustained high-g turns, stall maneuvers that don’t stall the plane, and the ability to suddenly point the plane onto targets, in ways that other aircraft find hard to match or predict.
At present, the Russian SU-30MKA/I/M aircraft bought by Algeria, India and Malaysia offer full 360-degree thrust vectoring nozzles (TVN), albeit with a less durable system. Other SU-30 family variants like the SU-35, and UAC’s new MiG-35, use similar technology. Eurofighter GmbH is researching and promoting a thrust-vectoring retrofit option, but hasn’t even tested one yet. The F-35 Lightning II won’t offer combat thrust vectoring, relying instead on electronics that will try to leverage embedded sensors and datalinked missiles to give the plane 360 targeting, and make maneuvering unnecessary.
Intimidation: If the enemy won’t show up, or has to forego targets, you win before fighting even begins. A country trying to protect high-value assets like key installations, aerial tankers, or AWACS aircraft gains a considerable advantage if any strike against these valuable targets risks running into a superior defender, who can’t be seen beforehand. The attacker must either risk failure in some attacks, or concentrate each attack and end up avoiding some targets. All before combat is even joined.
On a larger scale, the experience of the Iran-Iraq war is illustrative, and relevant. The Iranian F-14 Tomcats’ ultra long-range AN/AWG-9 radars, and missiles that included the AIM-54 Phoenix, meant that Iraqi planes would just start blowing up – without warning, and without the ability to see their “invisible” attacker. Losses were not extreme, but Farzad and Bishop’s research notes that once the USA started passing its own radar data to the Iraqis, the IqAF often stood down entire sectors when they were told that Iranian F-14 Tomcats were present.
Can the F-22A Raptor’s total package perform well enough to offer that kind of intimidation?
F-22 pilot Lt. Col. Wade Tolliver responded to charges of sub-standard F-22 performance in a June 13/06 Virginian-Pilot article, and illustrated a number of the points above:
“In the Raptor, “I can outmaneuver an F-16, F-15, F-18. It doesn’t matter…” [and] the F-22′s radar works in a way that allows him to use it without revealing himself. Though its exact workings are classified, the F-22 is known to emit radar signals in extremely short bursts over multiple frequencies.
“Even if you detect me, you’re not going to know where I am a second from now,” said Joe Quimb, a spokesman for Lockheed Martin, the Raptor’s principal builder.
Tolliver said that radar and other sensors, along with information fed into the Raptor’s computers from ground-based radars and other planes, gives F-22 pilots an exceptional, unified view of potential threats and targets aloft and on the ground… “It’s amazing the information you have at your fingertips,” Tolliver said. In no-holds-barred mock battles with F-15s, F-16s and the Navy’s F/A-18 Hornets, he and other Raptor pilots generally “destroy” their adversaries before those foes even realize they’re around…”
That was proven in the June 2006 Northern Edge exercise, when even E-2C and E-3 AWACS aircraft reportedly weren’t much help against the F-22. After their missiles were fired, the F-22′s active & passive sensor capabilities functioned as the Raptor’s last weapon. Northern Edge 2006′s Raptors remained in the fight, flying as stealthy forward air controllers and guiding their colleagues to enemies sitting behind mountains and other “Blue Force” AWACS blind spots. When the AIM-120D AMRAAM missile enters wider service, F-22s will also have the option of actively guiding missiles fired by other aircraft.
Many of these capabilities also work together when facing top-end anti-aircraft systems on the ground.
Russian radar and missile systems like the SA-20 and S-400 are extending their ranges to hundreds of kilometers, and their missile performance makes it extremely dangerous for non-stealth aircraft to challenge that perimeter. That response range will even make them dangerous to stealthy aircraft, as their VHF radars improve and widen the detection distance for even reduced radar profiles. Fortunately, their positions are more fixed than an aerial opponent’s. All-aspect stealth helps shorten the F-22′s detection range from any angle, which can create gaps in enemy radar coverage, and is especially useful when the Raptor is trying to leave the danger zone. A hyperspectral suite of embedded sensors helps the aircraft map and exploit coverage gaps in real time, as sensor fusion displays the known safe and danger zones. Supercruise reduces detection times further, and shortens any time inadvertently spent in a danger zone. The hope is that these measures will allow the Raptor to get close enough to launch its own weapons first. An AN/APG-77 radar with future software upgrades may even be able to provide final-stage jamming of enemy radars.
The F-35 lacks all-aspect stealth, offering less from the side and even less from the rear. That has caused a number of observers to question its survivability, as the design increases both the danger of being surprised by an enemy radar in an unexpected place, and the danger level when trying to leave any area that’s still defended. The F-35 also lacks supercruise, which keeps it in the danger zone for longer period of time. On the other side of the equation, the anti-aircraft systems it was designed to beat have improved a great deal since the F-35 JSF’s major shape and design were frozen as “good enough.” In its favor, the F-35 has the best set of embedded sensors and sensor fusion of any fighter, and it will carry a wider range of weapons internally, including strike missiles with a longer reach. It will also be built for several nations, in numbers that make investments in new weapons and upgrades more likely. The question is whether its first 2 fundamental limitations in stealth and supercruise end up making its advantages irrelevant, especially as enemy systems and aircraft continue to improve. If so, the F-22A fleet will be expected to take up that slack.
Criticisms & Controversies
CDI Combat Critique: Not everyone is convinced. The left-wing CDI believes the F-22′s performance will be subpar, though having seen their circulated presentations, DID believes their arguments as presented contain a number of important holes as well as some valid points. F-16 program analyst Pierre Sprey and author James Stevenson argued that the F-22′s fuel:weight ratio, wing loading, and acceleration are inferior to existing fighters. They believe that peacetime exercises are designed with predetermined outcomes in mind and can’t be relied on, and question the lethality of air-air missiles based on their war record. Sprey and Stevenson also question the F-22′s stealth on the grounds that its own radar will give it away when used, adding that the unreliability of IFF (Identification, Friend or Foe) has generally meant that combats are fought at close ranges where stealth is largely negated. They contend that numbers, acceleration, fast changes in energy state, and a 360 degree cockpit view count for more in such situations – and find the F-22 wanting on all counts.
Some caveats are in order regarding these criticisms. The APG-77 radar’s “agile beam” technology appears to negate Sprey and Stevenson’s stealth criticisms for now, as does the F-22′s ability to use passive sensors. Meanwhile, thrust vectoring and supercruise create energy state options that mere wing loading and acceleration figures don’t measure. On the missile front, they are correct that Rules of Engagement have made beyond-visual range engagements the exception rather than the rule in actual combat. The problem is that the war record of air-air missiles is almost exclusively concentrated in the 1960s-1980s, when available technologies almost forced those rules. Wariness about missile-related promises is justified by past experience, and by the ever-evolving state of countermeasures, but good analysis must also accept that technology can change – and has.
Limited Weapon Set: Qualified weapons for the F-22 are limited: short-range AIM-9 Sidewinder and medium range AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles, and the JDAM family of bombs including the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb glide weapon. An F-22 can carry up to 8 GBU-39s, or 2 GBU-32 JDAMs. None of its internally-carried strike weapons are powered, and radar-killing missiles like the AGM-88 HARM/AARGM aren’t even on the drawing board as options. Key ground-looking radar modes are just being integrated, and important additions like wider field side-looking radar arrays and helmet-mounted sights will not appear until and unless future Block 30/ Block 40 upgrades are funded.
Low Usefulness in “Small Wars”: The F-22 lacks key systems for engaging the kind of small, fleeting targets that characterize modern counter-insurgency warfare. Its ground-looking SAR radar mode and GPS-guided weapons offer some options, but it lacks the built-in optics and laser targeting possessed by attack helicopters, UAVs, and the F-35.
The GBU-53 SDB-II or GBU-54 laser JDAM could eventually give it some moving target capability, in cooperation with ground forces. Even so, the question is whether F-22 deployments in Small Wars scenarios make sense. The longer-term question is whether deployment of any of America’s future F-22/F-35 stealth fighters, with their high purchase costs, high operating costs, and low endurance compared to UAVs, makes sense in “small wars” scenarios. Even deployment of previous-generation fighters has been open to legitimate question, given cheaper and more effective manned fighter options like A-10Cs and EMB-314 Super Tucanos.
Maintenance & Readiness: As operational experience has built up, the F-22′s maintenance and operational costs have come under fire. The most celebrated instance involved a July 2009 Washington Post story that gave various details, followed by reports from the USAF that some of the Post’s statistics and allegations were untrue.
Official USAF responses say that maintenance and readiness targets must be met only when the aircraft reaches 1000,000 flight hours, but adds that from 2004 – 2009, F-22 readiness improved from 62% to 70%, while mean time between maintenance rose to 3.22 hours in Lot 6 (FY 2007) aircraft, which is better than the KPP (Key Performance Parameter) goal of 3 hours. Direct maintenance man-hours per flying hour dropped from 18.1 in 2008 to 10.46 in 2009, which is better than the target rate of 12 hours. According to the Washington Post, however:
“The Air Force says the F-22 cost $44,259 per flying hour in 2008; the Office of the Secretary of Defense said the figure was $49,808. The F-15, the F-22′s predecessor, has a fleet average cost of $30,818.”
The USAF responds that USAF data shows that F-22 flight hour costs include base standup and other one-time deployment costs, which the F-15 no longer needs. The USAF says that variable cost per flying hour is a better comparison, and 2008 figures were $19,750 for the F-22 and $17,465 for the F-15. Of course, that’s still higher, and the Raptor program had promised flying hour costs below the F-15.
That reality is not surprising. The F-22′s stealth coatings and tapes are part of this equation, something that has been true for all stealth aircraft to date, and may yet affect the F-35 program as well. Even without the stealth equation, however, every new American fighter for the past several decades has promised lower maintenance costs and higher availability rates than its predecessors – and failed to deliver. In practice, rising complexity means costs are consistently higher, and availability rates consistently lower. That lack of readiness makes the problem of smaller fighter stocks worse, creating an even deeper reduction in fielded numbers. On which topic…
Numbers: Sprey and Stevenson’s sharpest criticism notes that the F-22′s small production run of under 200 planes make it the Me-262 Sturmvogel of its time. The Me-262 was the world’s first production jet fighter, with performance that could dominate any allied propeller plane. Yet the 200 or so Me-262s produced were swept from the World War 2 skies, by 2,000+ P-51 Mustangs, P-47 Thunderbolts, etc. Subsequent articles from CDI also address issues of pilot training given the pilots’ limited flight hours, and actual flyaway costs per plane which they believe to be between $180-215 million.
Low production numbers and no exports also create a future investment dilemma, by limiting the overall force’s return from investing in new F-22 capabilities, and creating a single-buyer bottleneck for any upgrade programs.
The RAND Corporation’s famous “Pacific Vision 08″ study did echo Sprey and Stevenson, and also noted limitations on rational expectations for the performance of air-air missiles. That has implications for the ability of a small force to beat a large one, and its most telling point also traces back to the numbers equation. RAND’s Taiwan Strait scenario assumed perfect combat defense by the F-22s, and 100% kill ratios for every missile an F-22 launched. RAND itself acknowledged the assumptions as as wildly unrealistic, but used them to make their central point: every F-22 still died, due to their limited numbers. The available Raptors on station ran out of missiles before the Chinese ran out of planes, whereupon the Chinese fighters simply shot down the aerial tankers that the F-22s needed, preventing the F-22s’ safe return to Guam. Zai jian.
The 2006 Northern Edge gambit of using F-22s as “bird dogs” once their missiles were gone offers one potential solution to this dilemma, but less stealthy aircraft will need to be equipped with very long range air-air missiles in order to take full advantage.
Beyond this summary, links to articles and research favoring or opposing the F-22 can be found in the Additional Readings section, below.
F-22 Raptor: Program
The F-22 program is led by Lockheed Martin. Boeing Integrated Defense Systems has responsibility for the avionics systems, and a Northrop Grumman-led joint venture with Raytheon produces the APG-77 radar, under contract to Boeing. The F119 thrust-vectoring engines are produced by United Technologies subsidiary Pratt & Whitney. As of 2011, order totals stand at 187. That number will not rise unless the production line is restarted, which means the 2009 and 2010 crashes will leave the USAF with a fleet of 185.
By the end of Lot 6 production (the FY 2007 batch), the Air Force and manufacturer expected to have all the major design changes to the Raptor worked out; there would be no major changes to the aircraft after that, unless the service wanted to produce an F-22B or F-22C model. Production of each F-22 took about 30 months from start to finish, as the various parts are sent to the Lockheed Martin facility in Marietta for final assembly. Within the final production line in Marietta, GA’s 3.5 million square foot main building, the “mate and final assembly” process took about 12 months.
Flyaway Costs & Budgets
When the final aircraft was delivered in May 2012, the F-22A acquisition program was complete. It cost $67.3 billion to develop the aircraft, establish the infrastructure, and buy 187 jets.
Lockheed Martin claims that their nationwide production team achieved Lot to Lot cost reductions greater than 10% for each set from Lot 1 to Lot 4. Larry Lawson, Lockheed Martin executive vice president and F/A-22 program manager, saw that trend slowing but not stopping, as the firm continued to focus on cost reductions and efficiency improvements. A June 23/06 US Air Force article added:
“The current cost for a single copy of an F-22 stands at about $137 million. And that number has dropped by 23 percent since Lot 3 procurement, General Lewis said. “The cost of the airplane is going down,” he said. “And the next 100 aircraft, if I am allowed to buy another 100 aircraft… the average fly-away cost would be $116 million per airplane.” “
Depending on which “dollar-year” those fly-away cost figures represent, actual amounts may vary, since current year dollars include inflation. Recent budgets suggest current-dollar figures of $150-180 million per plane, but a July 2009 USAF response [PDF] gave the F-22A’s current flyaway cost as $142.6 million each. That no longer matters, since production stopped in 2012.
Raptor, Redux: Upgrading the Fleet
Even though the F-22 is going out of production, the program itself will continue to attract spending on maintenance, spares, and upgrades. The F-22A began as a single-step program, with no need for significant future modernization. Reality intervened, and the USAF came up with a $5.4 billion modernization plan in 2004. As of December 2011, the current total estimated cost of F-22A modernization has more than doubled, to $11.7 billion (+117%). Around $6.2 billion remains to be spent: $1.3 billion for Increment 3.2B, $3.6 billion to maintain modernization and support infrastructure, and $1.3 billion to complete RAMMP design-for-maintenance improvements and structural repairs.
Right now the Air Force operates mostly Block-10 and Block-20 aircraft. The Block 10s are used for training at Tyndall AFB. The Block 20s, produced from 2007 on, use “Increment 2″ hardware and software. That lets them launch GPS-guided JDAM bombs at supersonic speeds, and improves performance with the AIM-120C AMRAAM air-air missile. Increment 2 also helped fix some previous operations and maintenance issues.
Under the Common Configuration program, the F-22A Block 10s were retrofitted to Block 20/ Increment 2 status, but retain the original core processor. They could be used operationally as air superiority planes, but present plans call for them to be used as training and demonstration platforms. The USAF intends to retain 36 aircraft in this configuration.
As of 2012, the USAF intends to upgrade 143 aircraft with the full complement of modernized Block 35/ Increment 3 capabilities by FY 2020. The Raptor’s problem is that its Increment 3 set keeps changing, with items being added and subtracted while cost climbs, and the schedule lengthens.
Increment 3.1 began development in 2006, and finally reached OpEval in January 2011. It finished testing in November 2011, and fielding is taking place from July 2011 (via USAF waivers) through 2016. Upgrades include new ground-looking synthetic aperture radar (SAR) modes for the AN/APG-77, some electronic attack capability, geo-location of detected electro-magnetic emitters, and initial integration with the GPS-guided GBU-39 Small-Diameter Bomb (SDB-I). That last change expands the F-22′s ground attack arsenal from 1 JDAM per bay to 4 SDB-Is, though a pilot will only be able to release 2 weapons at a time.
Testing shows that this upgrade has also improved the F-22′s Mean Time Between Critical Failure rates. Increment 3.1 is being fielded in FY 2011 – 2016.
Increment 3.2 was meant to be a software-focused upgrade, and was initially expected to begin delivering planes in 2010. The effort ran into funding delays, then ran into technical and cost problems. It has now split into a 3.2A and 3.2B phase, and a number of items have vanished from the plan.
Increment 3.2A will focus on Electronic Protection and Combat Identification, including Link-16 track fusion. Development began in November 2011, testing is expected to run from late 2012 – late 2013, and operational testing is expected to finish in early 2014. Fielding of Increment 3.2A is planned to overlap Increment 3.1, with planes getting both upgrades through 2014 – 2016.
Removed: Improved geo-location of detected emitters, Ground Moving Target Indication and Tracking Indicator (GMTI) radar mode to upgrade its ground-looking SAR from Increment 3.1, the MADL datalink, Anti-jam GPS SASSM retrofits, an Automatic Ground-Collision Avoidance System (AGCAS) to improve safety, and improved data recording.
Increment 3.2A will be fielded from FY 2014 – 2016.
Increment 3.2B has been structured as a new major defense acquisition program since December 2011. Milestone B approval and system development is planned for Q1 2013, with fielding to take place between 2017 – 2020. It will provide compatibility with new AIM-9X Sidewinder short range air-air missiles, and with the AIM-120D medium range air-air missile; the AIM-120D’s range, 2-way datalink, and AESA friendly features appear to be tailor-made for the F-22. Beyond that, 3.2B will finish Increment 3.1′s Electronic Protection Update, add the IFDL datalink, and improve geo-location of detected emitters (albeit to a lesser degree than initially planned).
Removed: All items removed from 3.2A are still gone, except geo-location. The USAF also cut full SDB-I integration, which offered the ability to release all of the plane’s bombs at once against 8 separate targets. That can be very useful in some tactical situations, allowing just one screaming pass over defended and dispersed targets: airfields, air defense complexes, etc.
At the same time, the FY 2013 USAF budget summary states that the GBU-53 tri-mode guidance SDB-II will also be integrated with the F-22A. It’s possible that initial SDB-II integration will be done by the end of 3.2B. If added, it would give the Raptor the ability to hit moving targets, and to drop in response to laser designation by other platforms.
It’s estimated at $1.538 billion, of which $1.2 billion is R&D, and only $338.6 million is procurement. That isn’t unusual for a software-heavy upgrade.
Increment 3.2B development will begin in February 2013, with a design review scheduled for July 2015 and a Milestone C decision in December 2015. Testing will begin in August 2016, with a “full rate production” (deployment) decision in October 2017, an expected initial operational capability in December 2018, and fielding running to 2020.
What Comes Next? There may be a hardware focus at the end of Increment 3.2, if a USAF effort to examine the full replacement of the F-22′s core electronics with a modern, open architecture software and hardware framework (vid. the F-35) bears fruit. If so, that would probably become Increment 3.2C, or an Increment 3.3 upgrade program. Previous wish lists have included items like side-mounted AESA radar arrays to improve radar field of view and simultaneous ground scans, multispectral/infrared search and track (IRST) systems for aerial and/or ground targets, and the JHMCS helmet-mounted sight. Improved jamming capabilities are another item that will always be in demand. At present, there are no plans to add powered weapons like HARM/AARGM anti-radar missiles, and fitting them into the weapon bays could be a challenge.
Actual milestones for F-22 modernization, and forecast dates for future milestones, are reproduced below:
Long-Term Maintenance Programs
Operations and Maintenance is about 2/3s of the cost of any fighter over its lifetime, and the F-22 has been criticized for its performance. It promised better O&M costs than the F-15, but 2008 costs per flying hour were $19,750 for the F-22, vs. $17,465 for the F-15. Those costs tend to rise as aircraft get older, and the F-22′s extensive use of uncommon materials like titanium and composites adds some new variables to the aging curve. An independent 2007 estimate by the Air Force Cost Analysis Agency projected a $49,549 cost per F-22 flight hour at maturity in 2015 – more than double the $23,282 estimate made in 2005. Cuts in the number bought have raised fixed costs per plane, and also contributed to a shrinking industrial base that makes parts more expensive. The biggest impact, however, has come from the work required to maintain the F-22′s stealth coatings after flights and maintenance work.
The US military has a couple of programs aimed at tackling these challenges.
RAMMP. The F-22′s Reliability and Maintainability Maturation Program will run as long as the aircraft serves. It aims to drive continuous improvement in F-22 reliability and maintainability, as measured by metrics like Availability, Maintenance Man Hours per Flight Hour [MMH], Mean Time Between Maintenance (MTBM), and cost-saving Return on Investment. RAMMP used to include production cut-in opportunities, but that stopped when production did. It still encompasses development work and retrofits that are seen as affordable up front and technically viable, with a good return on investment.
In April 2011, the Pentagon changed the way they measured F-22 readiness to “material availability,” the percentage of the fleet available to perform assigned missions at any given time. The GAO says that this was just 55.5% in 2011, and the current goal for RAAMP is an availability rate of 70.6% by 2015.
The program had planned to spend about $258 million between 2005 and 2011, but a May 2012 GAO report pegged actual investments through 2011 at about $528 million. RAMMP is expected to need almost $1.3 billion through 2023.
SRP I/II. The Structures Retrofit Program (SRP) is a 2-part program designed to correct warning signs discovered during the F-22′s 2005 Full Scale Fatigue Testing (FSFT). All USAF planes have a routine structural integrity process designed to proactively detect and repair damage, and SRP is the Raptor’s. Phase I was designed to correct structural deficiencies with that were less than 2,000 flight hours from their limits, while SRP II is tackling less urgent deficiencies with life shortfalls between 2,000 – 8,000 flight hours. The SRP II program is scheduled to complete in 2015.
The F-22A Raptor is currently assigned to 7 bases across the US, 3-4 of which have operational aircraft:
- Langley AFB, VA: Operational F-22As of the 1st Fighter Wing’s 27th Fighter Squadron (FS) are assigned here. They have been certified to Full Operational Capability, and the Virginia Air National Guard’s (ANG’s) 192nd Fighter Wing is an associate squadron.
- Elemendorf AFB, AK: 3rd Fighter Wing’s 90th FS & 525th FS. Elmendorf AFB should have its full complement of 40 aircraft by December 2009. The US Pacific Air Force’s 477th Fighter Group (302nd FS, 477th Maintenance Sqn and 477th Aircraft Maintenance Sqn) will associate with the 3rd FW, becoming the first Air Force Reserve unit to maintain and fly the F-22A; its units have historic connections to the Tuskegee Airmen, the USAF’s highly-decorated black aviators of WW2. Source.
- Hickam AFB, Hawaii: Future base for 18-24 F-22A Block 30s; the Hawaii ANG’s 199th FS will contribute most of the personnel, and the 531st FS will be a USAF active force associate squadron to them. F-22As began arriving in July 2010, and the squadron flew its last F-15 mission in August 2010.
Holloman AFB, NM:Was to become base #6 as its tenants transitioned from F-117 stealth aircraft to the F-22A. The base was converted to an F-16 training center instead, and the 8th Fighter Squadron was inactivated in May 2011. The 7th Fighter Squadron’s jets haven’t transferred to Florida yet, though, because of a USAF freeze on structure changes.
Temporary deployments to Andersen AFB on Guam and Kadena AFB in Japan can be expected on a regular basis. F-22s can also be found at:
- Edwards AFB, CA: Flight testing, of course.
- Nellis AFB, NV: Tactics development, which becomes a new issue with full stealth aircraft.
- Tyndall AFB, FL: Pilot and maintenance teams training. The Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard also have individuals here as instructors. They will also receive F-22s from Holloman AFB.
F-22 Raptor: Key Events
Last F119 engine; No HMD becoming a problem?
April 8/13: Squadron stand-down. The USAF is standing down 17 combat-coded squadrons in response to budget cuts that reduced the flying hours budget by $591 million for the remainder of FY 2013. The grounding includes F-22As from the 1st Fighter Wing’s 94th Fighter Squadron at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, VA, who are returning from a high-profile exercise in South Korea. Gannett’s Military Times.
April 4/13: Some restrictions lifted. The F-22 Raptor fleet’s prohibition on venturing more than 30 minutes flight from suitable airfields is removed, after modifications to aircrew life-support equipment were completed across the fleet. F-22 crews have also resumed their aerospace control alert mission in Alaska after the Automatic Back-up Oxygen System (ABOS) was installed in the F-22s at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
Altitude restrictions still remain for some of the fleet. Altitude restrictions for training flights remain for non-ABOS aircraft; however, those restrictions will be removed as each aircraft is modified. Officials expect combat fleet completion by July 2014. USAF | KHON 2 Hawaii.
April 1/13: Korea. Pentagon Press Secretary George Little underscores the fact that 2 F-22As have deployed from Kadena AB, Japan to Osan AB in South Korea, arriving in the middle of the 2-month-long Foal Eagle exercise. Little says the move was pre-planned, and it happens to coincide with a sharp escalation in tensions with North Korea. Then again, escalations and acts of war have happened to every new South Korean administration, so it was predictable in advance. US DoD | CNN.
March 28/13: GAO Report. The US GAO tables its “Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs“. Which is actually a review for 2012, plus time to compile and publish. The F-22 itself is no longer a major program, but its Increment 3.2B upgrade has been approved as an MDAP all its own. It’s estimated at $1.538 billion, of which $1.2 billion is R&D, and only $338.6 million is procurement. That isn’t unusual for a software-heavy upgrade.
Development will begin in February 2013, with a design review scheduled for July 2015 and a Milestone C decision in December 2015. Testing will begin in August 2016, with a “full rate production” (deployment) decision in October 2017, and an expected initial operational capability in December 2018.
GAO is worried that the AIM-9X Block II air-to-air missile won’t be ready in time to support that 2016 testing, or 2018 fielding. It would have to be pretty late, though, because its IOC is scheduled for 2014. Other GAO concerns include the possibility of testing delays from more “pilot hypoxia” fleet groundings. F-22 flight software updates could create a concurrency risk for the developers, and if the Ogden Air Logistics Center’s software development lab isn’t accredited, it will add 75 more test flights and extend testing. Finally, the GAO cites “a lack of test resources to verify electronic protection and geo-location capabilities…” as a notable risk.
Feb 9/13: NASA on Hypoxia. The Hampton Roads Daily Press used Freedom of Information requests to review a redacted copy of NASA’s 120 page August 2012 report concerning F-22 “hypoxia” issues (q.v. also Sept 13/12 entry). The 14-member NASA team cites lack of information sharing at the outset, as different bases tried different approaches. Langley AFB, VA, for instance, found that hyperbaric treatments were helpful, but pilots in Alaska didn’t receive them. They also use the ominous term “normalization of devience” to describe initial lack of reaction to pilot health problems.
NASA is also recommending reducing oxygen levels at lower altitudes as a way of avoiding “absorption atelectasis,” in which too much oxygen at low altitudes wash away necessary nitrogen within the lungs and cause lung tissue to collapse. The USAF says that many Navy pilots have flown without issue on 100% oxygen instead of 95%, and wants more data before making that change. NASA also wantred a central F-22 Medical Consult Service in place, as a resource for flight surgeons who treat pilots. The USAF says that Hyperbaric Division of the Aeromedical Consultation Service at the USAF School of Aerospace Medicine already serves in that role.
Feb 6/13: Pentagon IG Slams USAF. The Pentagon’s Inspector-General delivers a scathing assessment of the USAF Accident Investigation Board report that faulted the late Capt. Haney for the Nov 16/10 crash in Alaska. The crash led directly to fleet cockpit retrofits and changes in the flight vests, after the AIB’s own report described the absurdly difficult process for reactivating the pilot’s cut-off oxygen (q.v. Dec 14/11, March 20/12 entries). The IG’s report was sharply critical, and its main criticisms can be excerpted as follows:
“The AIB report cites three causal factors (channelized attention, breakdown of visual scan, and unrecognized spatial disorientation) as the cause of the F-22 mishap. However, these three factors are separate, distinct, and conflicting…. The AIB report’s determination that the mishap pilot’s mask was in the full up position throughout the mishap sequence was not adequately supported by the Summary of Facts or by the analysis cited in the TABs…. The AIB report’s Non-Contributory portion of the Human Factors section inadequately analyzes the human factors listed, such as hypoxia, gravity-induced loss of consciousness, and sudden incapacitation and does not contain any references and/or supporting documentation…. lacked detailed analysis of several areas, such as the Emergency Oxygen System activation as well as the physiological reactions to lack of oxygen…. Of the 109 references in the AIB report’s Summary of Facts, 60 of those references were either incorrect or did not direct the reader of the AIB report to the information cited in the paragraph.”
Reading the report in detail, the IG says there’s a lot of evidence that the pilot was “not actively flying the aircraft” for critical periods, citing inter alia 39 seconds of either unintentional or no flight control inputs just prior to the 7.4 g “recovery” maneuver and crash. Basically, the IG believes the pilot was probably unconscious.
The report is an interesting collision. Its conclusions vindicate the honor of the deceased pilot, which the Accident Board report had damaged, at the price of charging the USAF with incompetence (the alternative being dishonesty). The USAF disagrees, stating that the AIB report could have been clearer, but their conclusion was “supported by clear and convincing evidence and he exhausted all available investigative leads.” The IG responds that writing clarity was not the issue. They continue to lack confidence in both the quality of the evidence, and the thoroughness of the investigation, which means the AIB should be re-convened. The USAF is resisting that, and the IG wants more than a vague promise to “address deficiencies”. The tug-of-war continues. Pentagon Inspector General Report | ABC News | Flight International.
Inspector General slams USAF AIB’s 2010 accident report
Feb 6/13: Doc. The USAF does a feature on Lt. Col. (Dr.) Jay Flottmann, a former flight surgeon who is now a fully qualified F-22A pilot, and 325th Fighter Wing chief of flight safety at Tyndall AFB, FL. That role began in November 2010, so he has been very involved in many of the investigations and revised procedures. Including installation of a pulseoximeter in the F-22′s helmet.
Another part of his legacy is that Air Force Instruction 11-405 now allows qualified flight surgeons to apply to pilot training through normal channels.
Feb 5/13: RAF Eurofighters. British Eurofighter Typhoon fighters are training with F-22s at Langley AFB for the first time. German Typhoons reportedly found that they could deal with the Raptor in close during a recent exercise (q.v. July 30/12 entry), but exercises like these are more about teaching other air forces how to work together with the F-22′s different capabilities and protocols. Hampton Roads Daily Press.
Jan 31/13: Missile gap? Increment 3.2B upgrades are supposed to deliver AIM-9X Sidewinder missile capabilities to the F-22A fleet, but pilots are concerned that the short-range air combat missile will fall short of required performance without a Helmet Mounted Display, and leave the F-22A at a disadvantage in close-in fights. One Raptor pilot told Flight International that:
“We’ve been screaming for years that the F-22 needs to have the capability fielded, and fast… Once the jets transitions from BVR [beyond visual range] to WVR [within visual range] with only AIM-9M-9s it is hugely vulnerable…”
The pilots like the AIM-9X’s added range, which extends to beyond visual range levels when launched at supercruise speed, and its ability to lock-on after launch. The problem is that without an HMD like the JHMCS I/II on other USAF fighters, or the Thales (Gentex) Scorpion that equips A-10s and some Air National Guard F-16s, the pilots can’t take full advantage of the missile’s full targeting cone. It doesn’t help that AIM-9X Block II’s one cited deficiency is helmetless high off-boresight (HHOBS) performance, but a fix can be expected by 2017.
The Raptor may be able to out-turn anyone, but an opponent with 30 degrees more sighting cone to work with doesn’t have to maneuver as hard. As experiences with the Eurofighter show (q.v. June 30/12 entry), some 4+ generation aircraft do approach the F-22′s capabilities in close. Russian thrust-vectoring designs like the MiG-35, SU-30SM, and SU-35 may also fall into this category, and top-end SRAAMs can even create openings against the F-22′s infrared masking countermeasures.
Jan 17/13: Engine. Pratt & Whitney delivers the last of 507 production F119-PW-100 engines for the F-22 fleet. They’ll continue to produce parts and spares, but the plant removed 100 people in December 2012: 80 layoffs, and 20 early retirement buy-outs.
The last F-22A was delivered on May 2/12. WTNH, CT.
Last F119 engine
Hypoxia. Stealth maintenance. Incident rate; 186 aircraft left.
Dec 7/12: Fender bender. An F-22A stationed at Joint Base Preal Harbor – Hickam sustains $1.8 million in damage in a landing incident. The fighters scrapes both horizontal stabilizers on the runway, about 90 minutes after conducting a Missing Man Flyover during the 71st Anniversary Pearl Harbor Day Commemoration ceremony. The Aviationist | UK’s Daily Mail.
Nov 27/12: Stealth. The USAF discusses some aspects of stealth-related maintenance on its F-22s:
“Once a week, the LO shop conducts outer mold line inspections on the Raptor. All the information is placed into a database that rates its stealth capability, called a signature assessment system… Senior Master Sgt. Dave Strunk, 477th Maintenance Squadron fabrication flight chief… said that LO application falls into two areas – the removal of coatings to facilitate other maintenance and the removal and replacement to bring the SAS rating down… “We are working all day every day,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Matthew Duque, 477th Maintenance Squadron LO technician. “We have 24/7 coverage to ensure a steady flow of progress from the start of a repair to finish.” “
All day, every day, in a highly specialized and technical job, equals cost. This is normal for stealth aircraft, but it’s worthwhile to illustrate why.
Nov 20/12: The 325th Fighter Wing resumes flying. Tyndall AFB.
Nov 15/12: Crash. An F-22 crashes less than 500 yards from the drone runway at Tyndall AFB, FL. The pilot ejects safely. In response the 325th Fighter Wing stands down operations. Also in response, Flight International asks the intriguing question: how many F-22As does the USAF have left? The researcher’s tally is 184, and the head of USAF Air Combat Command agrees. But ACC’s press had this to say:
“This is what ACC sent me: “The F-22 inventory is 123 combat-coded, 27 training, 16 test, and 20 attrition reserve. The incident at Tyndall was a training aircraft which brought the number down from 28. There are currently 186 total.”
StrategyPage offers another useful calculation, finding that the Raptor has had just over 6 serious accidents per 100,000 flight hours. That’s about double the F-16 and F-15 fleets, and around the same level as India’s air force. USAF | Tyndall AFB | Flight International | StrategyPage.
Oct 12/12: Delayed move. Holloman AFB, NM officials announce that the scheduled transfer of 7th Fighter Squadron F-22As to Tyndall AFB, FL will be delayed for another 18 months, due an ongoing freeze on U.S. Air Force structure changes. The freeze will also postpone the transfer of 2 F-16 squadrons from Luke AFB, AZ in Arizona to Holloman. Las Cruces Sun-News.
Sept 27/12: Hypoxia. Associated Press reconstructs some of the history behind the F-22′s oxygen related controversies. An informal working group of experts had flagged some of these problems a while ago:
“Coughing among pilots and fears that contaminants were leaking into their breathing apparatus led the [Raptor Aeromedical Working Group, RAW-G] to suspect flaws in the oxygen-supply system of the F-22 Raptor, especially in the extreme high-altitude conditions… Internal documents and emails obtained by The Associated Press show they proposed a range of solutions by 2005, including adjustments to the flow of oxygen into pilot’s masks. But that key recommendation was rejected… “This initiative has not been funded,” read the minutes of their final meeting in 2007.”
RAW-G also forecast potential issues with the system providing too much oxygen at lower altitudes. Its founder, Tyndall AFB flight surgeon Wyman, is now a brigadier general, and USAF Air Combat Command surgeon general. AP | Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Sky Talk.
Sept 20/12: Hypoxia. US Air Combat Command chief Gen. Mike Hostage says that the F-22′s oxygen problem is one of human physiology limits. It’s odd that Eurofighter pilots, who also fly above 50,000 feet at high gs, haven’t reported similar issues. Regardless:
“The service will “train our aviators that the issue is work of breathing,” Hostage told Air Force Times following the conference.” Gannett’s Air Force Times.
Sept 18/12: Hypoxia. USAF Gen. Gregory Martin (ret.), who headed the official investigation into the F-22′s hypoxia issues, explained the removal of the backup oxygen system to the HASC Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee:
“It was not a cost issue… the catalyst for this particular decision was… the ‘war on weight.’ In retrospect, that was not an appropriate decision.”
ABC News says that Martin’s comments seem to contradict Gen. Charles Lyon, who cited cost-driven cuts in August. On the other hand, it’s likely that Martin has the more complete briefing on the issue. ABC News.
Sept 19/12: 20 in Hawaii. The Hawaii National Air Guard’s 199th Fighter Squadron and the Active Duty Air Force’s 19th Fighter Squadron have received their last 4 F-22As. Their fleet is now complete, with 18 housed on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, and 2 under depot maintenance on the Mainland. Hawaii News Now.
Sept 13/12: Hypoxia – NASA’s take. NASA’s Engineering Safety Center presents its own assessment of the F-22A’s problems to a House Armed Services Committee. They point to “absorption atelectasis,” in which too much oxygen at low altitudes wash away necessary nitrogen within the lungs and cause lung tissue to collapse. NASA also uses a term with strong echoes, when they say that acceptance of “Raptor cough” and difficulty breathing “could be seen as a ‘normalization of deviance.’ ” NASA has used that term with respect to the Space Shuttle Challenger, during their post-mortem of its explosion. Aviation Week. See also Feb 9/13 entry.
Aug 25/12: Long-term safety issue? The Fort Worth Star-Telegram has been looking into the F-22 issues, and notes a disturbing piece of news: some Raptor pilots and families are complaining about long-term health problems, which include a chronic cough, impaired motor skills, loss of concentration and an inability to recall words and facts, lethargy and “crushing headaches.” There’s even one suicide that has the family raising questions, involving Brig. Gen. Thomas Tinsley.
The USAF says that contamination has been ruled out, but the article also takes a deeper look at various possibilities like contaminants, or repeated acceleration atelectasis (collapsing alveoli in the lungs). The USAF hasn’t issued its full report, so it’s hard to evaluate why it has ruled out those possibilities. As for the symptoms, they could be from contamination, they could be something that isn’t physical, or they could involve some aspect of physiology at extreme conditions that isn’t well understood yet. If it was easy to tell, we’d have answers already. Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Aug 13-17/12: Lawsuit settled. Anna Haney has agreed to a settlement in her wrongful death case against Lockheed Martin (F-22), Boeing (life support system), Pratt & Whitney (bleed air system), and Honeywell (OBOGGS). Her husband, Captain Jeff Haney, was killed in the Nov 16/10 crash in Alaska. The terms of the settlement are confidential.
An ABC News report points out that part of the problem was known to the USAF for a decade. In March 2000, a combined USAF/ contractor test group said that during certain specific high-altitude maneuvers, the Environmental Control System (ECS) system would shut down. Worse, it was built so that if it failed, a cascade of events would cut off the pilot’s primary oxygen supply. Such a real-world failure was described as “unacceptable,” but instead of installing an automatic plenum tank within the system, the USAF’s solution involved the incredibly difficult to use manual ring-pull system that contributed to Captain Haney’s death.
A June 5/12 contract (q.v.) with Lockheed Martin will retrofit 40 jets in the fleet with an automatic system, designed to kick in whenever the plane’s instruments detect an interruption in the oxygen flow. ABC News | Alaska Dispatch | Flight International.
July 30/12: Red Flag. Combat Aircraft leaks some results from the 2012 Red Flag exercises. WIRED Danger Room:
“In mid-June…  Typhoons arrived at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska for an American-led Red Flag exercise involving more than 100 aircraft from Germany, the U.S. Air Force and Army, NATO, Japan, Australia and Poland. Eight times during the two-week war game, individual German Typhoons flew against single F-22s… The results were a surprise to the Germans and presumably the Americans, too. “We were evenly matched,” Maj. Marc Gruene told Combat Aircraft’s Jamie Hunter. The key, Gruene said, is to get as close as possible to the F-22 … and stay there. “As soon as you get to the [close-in] merge … the Typhoon doesn’t necessarily have to fear the F-22,” Gruene said.”
The news has even more impact because the Eurofighters are still flying without helmet-mounted displays, which expand the engagement radius for short-range missiles. That’s a gap in the Raptor’s arsenal, too, but the Eurofighters are about to field an HMD. In contrast, JHMCS HMD integration was cut from the F-22 program during cost overruns, and an HMD isn’t in their current plans.
F-22As vs. Eurofighters
July 30/12: AIM-9X test. An F-22A performs the 1st supersonic launch of an AIM-9X short range air to air missile over the Sea Test Range at Point Mugu, CA. The first launch of an AIM-9X from the F-22 was carried out in May 2012.
Note that these are mechanical and aerodynamic tests, to ensure safe separation, ignition, etc. F-22As won’t be able to really use the AIM-9X in combat until the Increment 3.2B upgrade, which is expected to debut in 2017. Lockheed Martin @ Flickr.
July 30/12: To Japan. USAF F-22As arrive at Kadena AB in Japan. They’re expected to remain on Japan’s southern island of Okinawa for several months, but will be under flight restrictions during that time since pilots won’t be wearing the Combat Edge vests. CBS News.
July 24-30/12: Hypoxia solved? The USAF says they’ve found the root cause of the hypoxia problem. Part is said to be hose and valve connection hardware in the cockpit, and part is with pilots’ Combat Edge upper pressure system, and its breathing regulator/anti-g (BRAG) valve. The valve works fine for F-15 and F-16 pilots, but they don’t have the same performance envelope, and they have different life support systems. The USAF says that in the F-22A the BRAG valve stays open, keeping the vest inflated when it shouldn’t be. That leads to shallow breathing, and hyperventilation.
Kevin Divers, a former USAF rated-physiologist and F-22 flight test engineer, isn’t so sure, He says that the problem was known in 2000, but he had been assured that the issue had been tested thoroughly. There’s also the question of why maintainers on the ground are suffering from similar symptoms to the pilots. The USAF says that the issue is unrelated, but others aren’t so sure. They cite potential causal chains involving chemicals that become much more toxic when heated, can be introduced to the pilot in ways that go beyond the breathing system, and would also affect maintainers afterward.
Meanwhile, flight restrictions of 44,000 feet, maneuvering limitations, and a mandate to remain within 30 minutes of an airfield will remain until all of the USAF’s mechanical modifications reach flight crews. That isn’t expected to begin until September 2012. CBS News | Defense Tech | Flight International in-depth report | Flight International – USAF doubles down.
June 5/12: Oops. A “ground incident” at Tyndall AFB, FL puts an F-22 out of commission, but no-one is hurt. The former F-16 pilot at the controls was making his 2nd flight in an F-22, and the incident happened during a “touch and go”. Tyndall is where F-22 training happens, so that situation is normal.
This kind of thing usually means some repair expense (tail drag? wingtip runway strike? landing gear damage?), but shouldn’t scrap the plane. With a fleet size this low, however, even minor incidents like this one can become significant. Panama City News Herald.
May 15/12: Restricted flight. US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta issues a letter to Air Force Secretary Michael Donley, ordering that F-22 flights remain “within proximity of potential landing locations”. The specifics will be up to individual pilots and commanders, but you don’t want to be the commander if an F-22A accident occurs very far away from any landing options.
Panetta also asks the USAF to accelerate installations of an automatic backup oxygen system, and a contract for the first 50 is later announced in early June 2012. Finally, the US Navy and NASA are to be brought in, to help solve the ongoing oxygen problems that have hampered the fleet’s effectiveness for over a year now. Pentagon spokesman Capt. John Kirby, USN, tells reporters that in light of the recent deployment of several F-22s to the Persian Gulf, and because of pilots’ complaints, Panetta chose to “dive a little more deeply into the issue,” and then to issue the letter. Panetta letter, via scribd | Minneapolis Star-Tribune | Rep. Kinziger | Sen. Warner | WIRED Danger Room.
May 11/12: U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner [D-VA] and Rep. Adam Kinzinger [R-11-IL] send a joint letter to Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley, asking for a comprehensive and confidential survey of F-22 pilots and USAF flight surgeons. Rep. Kinziger.
May 3/12: 60 Minutes. Raptor pilots Maj. Jeremy Gordon and Capt. Josh Wilson of the Virginia Air National Guard’s 192nd Fighter Wing come forward and talk to the news show 60 Minutes, explaining why they have told their command they do not wish to fly the jet.
Gordon and Wilson say the Air Force has threatened to fire F-22 pilots who express these objections, and have asked Rep. Adam Kinziger [R-11-IL, formerly USAF Maj. Kinziger] to help them gain protection under the federal whistleblower law. On May 8/12, testimony to the House indicates that the 2 pilots will not face sanctions from the USAF. CBS News 60 Minutes [video] | Rep. Kinziger release.
May 2/12: Last F-22A delivered. Lockheed Martin formally delivers its 195th and last F-22 Raptor to the USAF, after a run of 187 F-22As and 8 test aircraft from 1997-2012. This final Raptor will join 3rd Wing at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. Lockheed Martin.
May 2/12: GAO Modernization, Part 2. The US GAO issues report #GAO-12-447, “F-22A Modernization Program Faces Cost, Technical, and Sustainment Risks.” The summary is not positive:
“Total projected cost of the F-22A modernization program and related reliability and maintainability improvements more than doubled since the program started – from $5.4 billion to $11.7 billion – and the schedule for delivering full capabilities slipped 7 years, from 2010 to 2017. The content, scope, and phasing of planned capabilities also shifted over time with changes in requirements, priorities, and annual funding decisions. Visibility and oversight of the program’s cost and schedule is hampered by a management structure that does not track and account for the full cost of specific capability increments… Results to date have been satisfactory but development and operational testing of the largest and most challenging sets of capabilities have not yet begun. Going forward, major challenges will be developing, integrating, and testing new hardware and software to counter emerging future threats… While modernization is under way, the Air Force has undertaken parallel [RAAMP] efforts to improve F-22A reliability and maintainability to ensure life-cycle sustainment of the fleet is affordable and to justify future modernization investments. But the fleet has not been able to meet a key reliability requirement, now changed, and operating and support costs are much greater than earlier estimated.”
April 26/12: GAO Modernization Report. The F-22A began as a single-step program, with no need for significant future modernization. Reality intervened, and the current total estimated cost of F-22A modernization is now $9.7 billion for Increments 2, 3.1, and 3.2B. GAO explains why this is more expensive than past “teen series” fighter designs:
“In 2003… We noted that while [advertising a single-step approach] may have allowed the F-22A program to compete for funding, it hamstrung the program with little knowledge about its true technology, funding, and schedule needs. In addition, the Air Force did not make early trade-offs between requirements and available resources… Ultimately F-22A development took more than 14 years, encountered significant cost increases and quantity reductions, and has not yet fully met established requirements, specifically those related to reliability and maintainability.
…F-22A production was terminated in 2009, before… (Increment 3.1) had finished development, so the remaining modernization increments will have to be retrofitted… Based on F-22A flight hour data provided by the program office our analysis indicates that a large number of aircraft are likely to have flown more than 1,500 hours, or nearly 20 percent of their 8,000-hour service lives, before the Increment 3.2B upgrades are fielded.11 …retrofitting upgrades onto stealth aircraft with fully integrated computer systems – referred to as fused or integrated avionics – like the F-22A is a riskier and more complex process than integrating new technologies into a conventional aircraft with separate and distinct computer systems and software for each subsystem – known as federated avionics – even if the technologies are mature.”
March 23/12: Increment 3.1. Flight International reports that the 3rd Wing’s 525th fighter squadron at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska became the first Combat Air Forces squadron to receive the F-22A Increment 3.1, with greatly improved ground-attack capabilities.
Increment 3.1 fielded
March 20/12: Hypoxia. Gannett’s Air Force Times reports that Capt. Haney’s fatal Alaska crash (vid. Dec 14/11) has led to design changes and retrofits. The Air Force is replacing handles that engage the F-22A’s emergency oxygen system, at a fleet material cost of $8,400 for 200. Elemndorf’s F-22As have already been refitted, and refits to other units are ongoing.
March 12/12: Lawsuit. Capt. Haney’s widow, Anna Haney, files a wrongful death suit in Cook County Court, IL against Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Honeywell International and Pratt & Whitney. The core of the suit reportedly claims that the plane’s onboard oxygen delivery system is defective, and that the mechanism for activating the emergency backup oxygen system is essentially impossible to operate impossible in emergencies. As such, the plane “did not safely or properly provide breathable oxygen to the pilot operating the aircraft.”
Lockheed Martin’s spokeswoman was sympathetic, but added that the company does not agree with the allegations, and will contest them in court. Military.com.
Jan 17/12: 2011 DOT&E. The Pentagon releases the “FY2011 Annual Report for the Office of the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation.” The F-22A is included, and results are mixed.
On the one hand, Increment 3.1 improvements involving ground radar modes and the new Small Diameter Bomb appear to be effective, and strongly improved Mean Time Between Critical Failure rates. The fleet grounding in 2011 delayed full testing, but in July 2011, the USAF authorized early fielding anyway.
A more mixed review came in the USAF’s 5-year Low Observables Stability Over Time (LOSOT) testing. The stealth system was found to be durable and stable over time, but stealth-related maintenance “continues to account for a significant proportion of the man hours per flight hour required to maintain the F-22A.” That has always been true for stealth aircraft, though the F-22 was supposed to feature new technologies that would avoid this outcome and keep costs in line. That does not appear to have happened. The USAF continues to try and improve things by fielding an LO(Low-observable, i.e. stealth) Repair Verification Radar tool, performing periodic maintenance audits of the LO system, and fielding more people (aka. “Martians”) for low-observable maintenance. The extra Martians should improve mission-readiness, in exchange for extra costs per flight hour.
Grounding. Last produced. Increment 3.2 split.
Dec 14/11: Crash cause? Terrible Man-Machine Interface. That’s certainly what a leaked USAF report appears to conclude, concerning the fatal November 2010 F-22A crash in Alaska. According to reports, onboard computers detected that bleed air was leaking out of the engine bay, which could cause a fire. They shut that system down, leaving the OBOGS with no air feed. To activate the Emergency Oxygen System (EOS) back-up, the pilot has to pull up on a small ring tucked into the side of his ejection seat. While trying to find it, Capt. Haney seems to have put his aircraft into a dive – a result repeated in ground simulations, as the pilot moves the stick and rudder while twisting in the cockpit.
It doesn’t help that to avoid hitting their canopy with protruding night vision goggles, while looking down and to the side, F-22 pilots have to brace themselves to shift their torso. A requirement that wouldn’t exist, except that the F-22 program cut JHMCS Helmet-Mounted Display integration. The accident investigation board still blames the accident on the pilot, for failing to activate the EOS. Flight International.
Dec 12/11: Last Raptor. The last F-22 rolls off the assembly line in Marietta, GA, as the US prepares to mothball the production line’s tooling, along with photos, video, and detailed instructions. Mothballing is a rare step, which would reduce the cost of re-starting production later.
About 5,600 Lockheed employees worked on the F-22 program at its peak in 2005, including 944 in Marietta. The current number is 1,650, with 930 in Marietta. More than 200 Marietta jobs have been cut in 2011, and more cuts could be coming. What’s known is that 600 Marietta, GA employees will handle F-22 technical support and modernizations. Some of the rest will be cut, while others will move to other programs. Atlanta Journal Constitution | UK’s Daily Mail | Reuters | TIME Magazine Battleland.
The Last Raptor
Oct 20-25/11: Stand-down. The commander of the 1st Fighter Wing at Langley AFB, VA issues a temporary stand-down order for the squadron’s F-22As, after another hypoxia-like incident. The F-22s at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska follow suit. All F-22s are flying again by Oct 25/11, but it’s clear that whatever problems the plane has aren’t going away. AP | Gannett’s Air Force Times | WAVY TV 10 | WIRED Danger Room.
Oct 15/11: Reservists with the 477th Fighter Group in Joint AB Elmendorf, AK resume F-22 flying operations. After the fleet’s 4-month grounding, active duty pilots had priority to begin flying the F-22s. US PACAF.
Oct 5/11: USMC Maj. Christopher Cannon writes a report advocating the F-22 as a ‘Plan B’ fallback replacement for the Marines’ F-35B if it’s canceled. The challenge is that the F-22 can’t be flown from ships, and current plans call for the USMC to buy a mix of F-35B STOVL and F-35C carrier aircraft. If the F-35B in canceled, therefore, the current Plan B is the F-35C. On the other hand, Canon argues that:
“The F-22 dwarfs the F-35 in stealth, speed, survivability, deployability and firepower… F-22s could be purchased now and would be cheaper initially and cost less to maintain than F-35s in the future. The current DoD (Department of Defense) plan is to buy 50 Marine Corps F-35B aircraft… [costing] $190 million per aircraft. In 2011, flyaway costs for the F-22 are a reported $150 million per aircraft… The U.S. Air Force estimates flying hour costs for the F-22 are $44,259 per hour. The 2008 GAO (Government Accountability Office) report estimated $33,000 per flying hour in a JSF aircraft… However, F-35B costs will likely be higher than A and C models. Additionally, the 2011 GAO update states that ‘current JSF life-cycle cost estimates are considerably higher than the legacy aircraft it will replace.’ “
Short takeaway: The report is very unlikely to become policy. Walton Sun.
Sept 26/11: Return to flight. The F-22 Raptor returns to the skies in a series of test and production flights at Lockheed’s Marietta, GA facility. Lockheed Martin.
Sept 19/11: Grounding. The USAF says that it will resume F-22 flights on Sept 21/11, even though it’s not sure what the problem is. While the wait for the fall report, the USAF will continue studying the problem, run regular physiological tests on the pilots, add training and unspecified protective gear, beef up aircraft inspections, and implement some short-term flight restrictions. The timing will, however, allow pilots grounded since May 3/11 to maintain their proficiency certifications. Aviation Week | Bloomberg | DoD Buzz | Gannett’s Air Force Times.
Aug 31/11: Grounding. Defense News reports that the USAF is looking to lift the F-22 fleet grounding, even though the cause of the hypoxia-like symptoms hasn’t been determined yet. A Sept 2/11 meeting will determine what flight restrictions need to remain: the USAF wants to restrict the planes below 40,000 feet, but the pilots are pushing for the full 60,000 foot ceiling, and want the physiologists dealing with this issue to have piloting experience. A Sept 7/11 Defense News article goes into more detail:
“Sources said the man they want to help with the investigation is a former Air Force flight test engineer and rated physiologist… Kevin Divers [of] Warrior Edge. Divers was a member of the F-22 Combined Test Force during the jet’s developmental testing and operational testing… Physiologists don’t fully comprehend the safety systems built into the modern aircraft, Divers said, but moreover, most don’t have the real-world experience in an aircraft. The consequence is that it has made it harder for the Air Force to get to the bottom of the problem… also created “an aircrew perception that the career field doesn’t understand its customer any more,” Divers said… “I know all of their flight equipment – the [onboard oxygen generating system] OBOGS, the entire plumbing of the aircraft to the OBOGS… My pilot training experience taught me to break down subsystems and know the aircraft to the level that the aircrew has to know it. Air Force physiologists aren’t trained that way coming into the Air Force.”
August 16/11: Grounding. As of this date, F-22s have been grounded for 105 days. A mix of toxins has been found in pilots’ blood after the various incidents that led to the fleet’s grounding, but how the gasses make it into the plane’s air supply is still unclear. Carbon monoxide dissolves too quickly to have been found by the tests, but it could also explain hypoxia and may make it into cockpits during hangar startups used during Alaska’s winter.
The investigation led by the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) has been expanded to other planes: F-35 Lightning II, T-6A Texan II, F-16 Fighting Falcon and A-10 Thunderbolt II. It is planned to be completed by early fall.
Meanwhile, a larger readiness problem is growing. Simulators help maintain a pilot’s instrument approach, but do not replace the live experience, so this is disrupting training. After 210 days without flying, pilots may have to go through extensive re-qualification.
June 16/11: Grounding. The F-22 fleet remains grounded, except for any emergency and testing missions that might be ordered.
May 30/11: New Core? The USAF is considering scrapping or heavily supplementing the F-22′s hardware/ software core with a modern open architecture system that would make upgrades much more portable from platforms like the F-35, EA-18G, etc., and also allow the USAF to open upgrades to competition beyond Lockheed Martin and Boeing.
When the F-22 was in development, VAX hardware and the Ada programming language were the most advanced mature technologies available; UNIX had not fully evolved to a military grade choice, and the project needed to lower risk. A lot has changed on the technology front since then, and now the tightly-coupled nature of the F-22′s systems, and age of their legacy underpinnings, is making improvements difficult.
The F-22 System Program Office (SPO) at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH will be trying to scope out the cost and effort via a 2011 RFI for demonstration projects. Depending on what they find, the system might become part of “Increment 3.2C” installations in 2019-2020, and allow the USAF to bring the entire Raptor fleet up to Increment 3.2 standard. Defense News | Vector Software | WSJ Tech Europe.
May 19/11: 3.2 splits up. The Senate Armed Services Committee gets bad news from USAF procurement chief David Van Buren, as he tells them that:
“Increment 3.2 that we’re currently working on for the F-22 for our war-fighting customer is taking too long to implement… We are working with the company to try to speed that up and make it more affordable.”
Software development issues are the problem for this mostly-software upgrade, which has now been split into Increment 3.2A for 2014 fielding, and Increment 3.2B for 2017 fielding. As noted elsewhere in this article, the F-22 runs on VAX computers, programmed in Ada. During the F-22′s development phase, they were the stable, mature options available. Now, they’re almost extinct. Lockheed Martin says that they’re working on it, adding that they saved the USAF $20 million by moving some electronic protection software forward from Increment 3.2B (2017) to Increment 3.2A (2014). They’re reportedly looking at 100 additional cost-cutting items for Increment 3.2B. SASC Hearing (actually focused on F-35) | Defense News | Gannett’s Air Force Times.
May 13/11: Holloman out. The 8th Fighter Squadron active-duty F-22 unit at Holloman AFB is officially inactivated, marking only the second time in the squadron’s 61-year history that it has been inactive. Holloman AFB, NM is being converted to an F-16 training base. Source.
May 5/11: Grounded. The F-22A fleet, which had been restricted to flying at a maximum of 25,000 feet since January 2011, gets a full grounding order from the USAF. A few pilots have been experiencing hypoxia-like symptoms on a few flights, and the USAF still doesn’t know why, so they’ve taken a cautious approach while a full investigation is conducted.
Suspicion naturally falls on the fighter’s on-board oxygen gas generation system (OBOGGS) system, and the USAF is also investigating the OBOGGS systems on a range of other planes: F-15s, F-16s, F-35s, and T-6 trainers. With that said, the F-22A uses a new system designed by Honeywell, as opposed to the older Cobham plc systems found on many other USAF aircraft. Those kinds of systems do not usually fail, and the F-22 fleet has operated for some time without this problem. It is possible that some component may be wearing out early, or not holding up well over time, but the USAF is careful to note that they have not confirmed the source of the problem – if they knew it was the OBOGGS, this would not be an investigation. Meanwhile, the F-35 program takes pains to point out that their OBOGGS system is a newer Honeywell design. Bloomberg | DefenceWeb | Defense News | Flight International | Stars and Stripes.
March 19/11: Libya from afar. Operation Odyssey Dawn begins multinational enforcement of a no-fly zone over Libya, and includes strikes on a wide range of defended Libyan targets. The F-22 is completely absent from these proceedings, though the EA-18G Growler electronic warfare fighter makes its combat debut. Given a clear air superiority and air defense suppression mission, which seems to play to all of the F-22′s strengths, and a March 17/11 statement by USAF Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz that he expected the F-22s to be employed in the early days of the conflict, many observers speculate about the F-22′s absence from the conflict.
Speculation includes political motives to force a coalition effort, lack of shared datalinks with most of the other planes participating, the fact that upgrade Increment 3.1′s ground-looking SAR mode for the AN/APG-77 radar hasn’t been delivered yet, or just an assessment that Libya wasn’t all that tough, and the F-22 wasn’t needed. A less credible reason was advanced by the USAF, who said it was because the F-22s aren’t based in Europe. All other reasons are possible contributors, but the May 2011 grounding adds an additional, and very persuasive, possibility: distrust of the plane’s oxygen system. Bloomberg | The DEW Line | DoD Buzz | Gannett’s Air Force Times.
Feb 14/11: FY 2012 budget. The Pentagon releases its FY 2012 budget request, which includes over $1 billion for the F-22 program. What will that fund? No new planes, but:
“Supports procurement of equipment associated with standing up operational locations and other support required to deliver new aircraft and funds shutdown activities, preserving assets for long-term F-22 fleet sustainment. Continues critical F-22 modernization through incremental capability upgrades and key reliability and maintainability efforts. Continues retrofit of Increment 3.1 into the combat-coded F-22 fleet. Increment 3.1 provides an initial ground attack kill chain capability via inclusion of emitter-based geo-location of threat systems, ground-looking synthetic aperture radar (SAR) modes, electronic attack capability, and initial integration of the Small Diameter Bomb (SDB-1), which expands the F-22′s ground attack arsenal from one Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) to four SDB-1s per payload. Continues development of Increment 3.2, providing AIM-120D and AIM-9X integration, radar electronic protection, enhanced speed and accuracy of target geo-location, Link-16 track fusion, Automatic Ground-Collision Avoidance System (AGCAS), and other enhancements to improve system safety and effectiveness.”
Jan 10/11: T-38 substitutes. One way to keep operations and maintenance costs down is to use cheaper fighters for air combat training. Lt. Col. Derek Wyler of the T-38 Adversary Air Program at JB Langley, VA explains:
“Right now at (JB Langley) … the F-22s are having to fly against themselves for their air-to-air training… By bringing the T-38s out, we’ll be able to train F-22 pilots by flying against the T-38s, which will give them a larger number of aircraft to fly against, and it will be a far more cost-effective way to train.”
It will, but T-38s are not a full substitute for training against fully-capable adversaries. NASA officials used an Aero Spacelines Super Guppy outsize cargo plane to deliver the first 2 of an eventual 15 T-38s that will be regenerated at Holloman AFB, NM, then flown to operating locations at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, VA, and Tyndall AFB, FL. Holloamn AFB will receive 2 T-38s at a time, with the last slated for February 2011. The first 7 regenerated planes will go to JB Langley, VA. USAF.
Corrosion. Wondering what’s next.
Dec 16/10: Corrosion. A GAO study looks at corrosion lessons learned from the F-22 program, and provides some details. Unfortunately, the very same materials used to help ensure smooth and stealthy surfaces are responsible for corrosion problems:
“Efforts are under way to address corrosion problems with the F-22. Corrosion of the aluminum skin panels on the F-22 was first observed in spring 2005, less than 6 months after the Air Force first introduced the aircraft to a severe environment. By October 2007, a total of 534 instances of corrosion were documented, and corrosion in the substructure was becoming prevalent. For corrosion damage identified to date, the government is paying $228 million to make F-22 corrosion-related repairs and retrofits through 2016… Many of the F-22′s corrosion problems were linked to problems with gap filler materials and paint… [Also,] Environmental and occupational health concerns drove the initial use of a nonchromated primer[Footnote 6] on the F-22 that did not provide corrosion protection, and the program later switched to a chromated primer.”
According to the GAO, the F-35 program has learned from the F-22 in some areas, but is making similar mistakes in others. Other programs that could also learn from the F-22 experience include the US Marines’ EFV armored vehicle and CH-53K helicopter, the Navy’s JHSV fast transport/ support catamarans and RQ-4N BAMS naval surveillance UAVs, and the Hummer replacement JLTV.
Nov 16/10: Restart? The US Air Force Association’s airforce-magazine says that the USAF is beginning to discuss a restart of F-22A Raptor production:
“Extending F-22 production could be the dealmaker if F-35 foes carry the day and compel USAF to take mostly new-build F-16s instead. The Raptors would provide the extra stealth force required to make the non-stealthy F-16s acceptable. Also, if you’ve listened carefully, USAF has gone from saying it will retain a “portion” of F-22 production tooling to “most” and, most recently, to “all.” Gen. William Fraser, head of Air Combat Command, acknowledged last week that Lockheed Martin is filming all F-22 tooling processes as the earliest parts of production shut down, so that it can go back to production of parts… Also last week, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) said he might spearhead an effort to get more F-22s into the budget. But he acknowledged it could be a difficult task given pressures to rein in spending.”
Nov 8/10: Industrial. Flight International reports that Lockheed Martin has entered the final 12 months of F-22A production in Marietta, GA, with the final aircraft due out of building B-1 by November 2011. Production will then shift over to F-35 inner-wing shipsets, using 250,000 square feet of space that had used for C-5M tooling storage, even as the site also works to treble C-130J production to about 36 a year.
Nov 3/10: What’s next? The USAF issues its “Next Generation Tactical Aircraft (Next Gen TACAIR) Materiel and Technology Concepts Search” solicitation, as it begins to think about what might replace the F-22 Raptor:
“ASC/XRX is conducting market research analyses to examine applicable materiel concepts and related technology for a Next Gen TACAIR capability with an IOC(Initial Operational Capability) of approximately 2030. The envisioned system may possess enhanced capabilities in areas such as reach, persistence, survivability, net-centricity, situational awareness, human-system integration, and weapons effects. The primary mission in the future Next Gen TACAIR definition is Offensive and Defensive Counterair to include subset missions including Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD), Close Air Support (CAS) and Air Interdiction (AI). It may also fulfill airborne electronic attack and intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance capabilities. This is not an all-inclusive list and the Next Gen TACAIR definition will mature and sharpen as the market research and Capabilities Based Assessment (CBA) unfold… The future system will have to counter adversaries equipped with next generation advanced electronic attack, sophisticated integrated air defense systems, passive detection, integrated self-protection, directed energy weapons, and cyber attack capabilities. It must be able to operate in the anti-access/area-denial environment that will exist in the 2030-2050 timeframe.
ASC is issuing this CRFI to support Air Combat Command (ACC) in their effort to establish potential weapon system concepts and future operating environment definition, establish a common understanding of future capability needs, and define key enabling technologies and their path to maturity. This CRFI will support requirements generation/refinement and provide decision-making products (including cost analyses) required to estimate operational benefits. The Government is issuing this CRFI to conduct market research in accordance with Part 10 of the Federal Acquisition Regulation.”
That list of requirements seems calculated to produce another bleeding edge research project; time will tell, as it gets whittled down to a set of firm requirements, and the USA’s budgetary situation becomes clearer over the next decade. See also Flight International | Reuters.
Oct 27/10: What’s next? An Aviation Week article discusses the future of fighter design in the face of widespread spending reviews, including possible plans for the F-22:
“Much of the thinking about future designs is being driven by the emergence of new threats, including the ability to deal with more sophisticated and longer-range air defenses and advanced fighters such as Russia’s PAK FA. Those developments also have U.S. Air Force officials mulling how to continue to evolve the Lockheed Martin F-22. Potential improvements in the 2020-plus timeframe include a multispectral infrared search-and-track system and introducing side radar arrays that were once part of the program but dropped in the 1990s to cut costs. Advanced data links and improved combat identification capability also could be in the cards.”
Multispectral IRST systems let fighters scan aerial targets in the non-radar spectra like infrared, allowing them to identify enemy aircraft by air friction and/or engine heat. Conventional radar stealth is not a defense, and a pilot with medium range infrared-guided air-to-air missiles can launch attacks from beyond visual range that do not rely on radar, and so do not trigger a target’s radar warning receivers.
Oct 20/10: Science! It’s good to know physics. Boeing’s F-22 manager Duane Innes does, so when he saw a truck sliding across lanes at around 40 miles an hour, he warned his passengers, slammed on the minivan’s gas, pulled ahead of the runaway vehicle, and let it rear-end him. As he explains “Basic physics: If I could get in front of him and let him hit me, the delta difference in speed would just be a few miles an hour, and we could slow down together.”
They did. The driver had suffered a heart attack and passed out at the wheel – but USAF veteran Bill Pace survived, thanks to the same combination of courage and physics that builds and then commands every F-22 in service. Well done, Mr. Innes. Seattle Times.
Sept 15/10: Industrial. Lockheed Martin announces that it has reached 86 consecutive F-22As aircraft delivered on or ahead of schedule. To date, the company has delivered 166 production F-22s, including 13 in 2010.
Aug 25/10: Hawaii. Pilots from the Hawaii Air National Guard 199th Fighter Squadron complete their last training mission with the F-15 Eagle from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. The 3 remaining F-15s will depart JB Hickam Sept 1/10, with 2 joining the 56th Aggressors Squadron at Nellis AFB, NV, and 1 moving to the 120th Fighter Wing of the Montana Air National Guard. The 199th FS will use the next year to transition to the F-22, and they will fly and help maintain the 20 F-22A Raptors that will deploy there. USAF.
Aug 6/10: UAE exercise. The 2010 ATLC (Advanced Tactical Leadership Course) at Al Dhafra is an annual exercise in the United Arab Emirates that bring American, British, French, and regional aircraft together. The main 2010 exercise featured the UAE’s own F-16 E/F Block 60s and Mirage 2000v9s, along with 6 Royal Jordanian Air Force F-16s, 6 Pakistani F-7PGs (Chinese MiG-21 copy), 6 French Rafales, 6 RAF Eurofighter Typhoons, and 6 USAF F-16CJ Block 52 “Wild Weasel” aircraft, which are optimized for killing ground-based air defenses.
A 6 aircraft deployment of F-22As from the 1st Fighter Wing’s 27th FS participated in bilateral training opportunities during this period, but did not participate in the main exercise. They flew 86 exercise sorties during the deployment, including 36 DACT (Dissimilar Air Combat Training) sorties and 4 sorties at the Dubai air show. Arabian Aerospace:
“This marked the first deployment of the F-22A Raptor to… the Central Command AOR… The F-22As fought Armée de l’Air Rafales on six occasions… [in 2010. In 2009] The USAF refused to comment directly about the French claims [re: the Rafale and Raptor]… Lt Col Lansing Pilch, commander of the 27th, and of the F-22 deployment [said in 2010 that] “In every test we did, the Raptors just blew the competition out of the water.” He did praise the Rafale, however… The deployment… was undertaken to test the expeditionary capabilities of the F-22A, and particularly… operations in a harsh desert environment… Pilch was keen to stress that the purpose… “We were not there to beat up on anybody [it's about] showing them what we can do, and learning about what they can do, and thus how best we can operate alongside them in coalition operations.” …F-22As flew only within visual range 1 vs 1 BFM (Basic Fighter Manoeuvring) sorties, and [without using] the F-22′s AN/APG-77 radar and highly advanced AN/ALR-94 passive receiver system. The Raptor pilots flew against a variety of opponents, with only the RAF turning down the offer of training against the F-22A, to the evident disappointment of Pilch and Rogers… [Using a generic support package] the F-22A operated at a higher tempo and with a smaller logistics footprint than would be required by the F-15 or F-16…”
July 30/10: Industrial. Flight International reports that even after the F-22 production line shuts down, tooling with “near-term needs” for fleet maintenance will be retained on site. Others will be stored in large, bar-coded steel ISO containers, instead of using conventional warehousing. all of this will be funded by shutdown contracts.
Retaining the line’s tooling will allow the USAF to repair and modernise the service’s aircraft more easily – or re-start the line again to manufacture new Raptors. The latter course would not be cheap or fast, however, taking an estimated 2 years and costing about $4 billion by the time skills are retrained, new suppliers for some components are found, engineering modifications to incorporate the new components are finished and testing is done, etc. Flight International | Conservative Weekly Standard magazine.
July 29/10: Holloman out. Well, that was fast. The F-22s will be leaving Holloman AFB under a new re-basing plan, and the base will turn into an F-16 training center by adding 2 training squadrons.
The existing Holloman half-squadron (8th Fighter Squadron) will be deactivated and redistributed to Elmendorf Air Force Base, AK (6), Langley AFB, VA (6), and Nellis AFB, NV (2). The other F-22 squadron (7th Squadron) will relocate as a unit to Tyndall AFB, FL. USAF Tyndall AFB | Alamogordo Daily News.
June 2/10: Holloman in. The first 2 F-22A Raptors arrive at Holloman AFB, NM, and taxi into Hangar 301. USAF.
May 26/10: Corrosion. Rust never sleeps. DoD Buzz reports a quote from the US House Armed Services Committee, in its FY 2011 budget proposal:
“The Committee notes that it has yet to receive the congressionally directed report from the Director of Corrosion Policy and Oversight assessing the corrosion control lessons learned from the F-22 Raptor fleet – which was grounded in February 2010 for corrosion on ejection seat rods due to poorly designed drainage in the cockpit – as they apply to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.”
As DoD Buzz notes:
“Regardless of how lowly rust might seem at first glance, it is a huge problem for the military, costing about $20 billion each year. According to the House Armed Services Committee, roughly $7 billion of that rust is preventable. So, the committee… wants to substantially increase the budget of a little known Pentagon entity, the Office of Corrosion Policy and Oversight… to… $10.8 million, up from a tiny request of $3.6 million.”
April 14/10: More work for F-15s. Aviation Week reports that USAF F-15Cs with new APG-82 AESA radars will now shoulder 50% of the “air dominance” burden, to compensate for the F-22A’s production shutdown.
The USAF’s F-15 A-D fleet has faced structural concerns in recent years, following catastrophic accidents that led to fleet-wide groundings.
Jan 29/10: PAK-FA competitor flies. Russia’s first prototype PAK-FA 5th generation stealth fighter lifts off from KNAAPO’s Komsomolsk-on-Amur facility for a 47 minute flight, piloted by Sukhoi test-pilot Sergey Bogdan.
Sukhoi says that the plane met all expectations. Sukhoi JSC release | NPO Saturn release [in Russian] | Russia 1 TV video | Pravda | RIA Novosti | Times of India | Aviation Week | Defense News | Agence France Presse | BBC | Canadian Press | Washington Post | China’s Xinhua | Aviation Week’s Bill Sweetman: Preliminary Analysis. See also APA: “Assessing the Sukhoi PAK-FA.”
Program terminated. Japan has to look elsewhere.
Dec 21/09: To CENTCOM. A set of 6 F-22As from Langley AFB, VA complete a deployment to the Middle East, including participation in training sorties alongside pilots engaged in a multinational training exercise. The F-22s did not fly missions during that exercise, which included pilots and planes from Britain, France, Jordan, Pakistan, and the USA. USAF | UPI.
As a separate matter, F-22As have also deployed to several international air shows, including a demonstration at the Dubai Air Show in November 2009. These deployments are the first time the F-22A has been sent to the Middle East.
Nov 23/09: Japan. In the wake of the FY 2010 American defense budget that ended F-22 production, while maintaining the ban on exporting the aircraft, Japan has been forced to look at other options. Kyodo news agency reports that Japan is considering buying 40 F-35s, and that the Japanese defence ministry is seeking fiscal allocation in the 2011 budget. According to media reports, other contenders include the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet, F-15 Eagle variants, and EADS’ Eurofighter. The acquisition plan is likely to be incorporated in new defense policy guidelines and a medium-term defense plan to be adopted in December 2010. Japan Today | Agence France Presse | domain-b | Times of India.
Oct 20/09: Industrial. Second Line of Defense offers “Michael Wynne on: The Industrial Impact of the Decision to Terminate the F-22 Program,” by former Secretary of the USAF Michael Wynne. His article discusses the entire sweep of the F-22 program and its key decisions. Among them are the detrimental role of the DoD’s insistence on ADA programming, which has made updating the plane’s electronics so difficult. With respect to the decision to close the F-22 production line and deny exports, Wynne cites fallout effects that include the potential for F135 engine cost increases, and other industrial impacts:
“Nationally; we have one fifth generation fighter facility left, and that ultimately will be the Fort Worth Facility. Yes, the Navy continues to buy the F-18 from the St. Louis Boeing facility, but the follow on program is the F-35, and the clock is now ticking loudly. Large Aircraft is Long Beach, and without the C-17, that facility will be history. Bomber programs – we have none, and the planned future one seems at risk. C-130 program will suffer further price increases, and the C-130J program barely made it to production as did the C-17.
While you cannot pile the entirety of two decades or more of industrial base decisions and program decisions on this F-22 decision, it is clearly correlated; it is a decision taken in a context and has strategic consequences. And it is stunning to see the money being given to industries such as the automotive industry and little or no concern being expressed about the fate and future of the aerospace and defense industries.”
July 31/09: The US House passes its “H.R. 3326: Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2010” by a 400-30 vote. The bill contains a number of provisions that challenge official Pentagon decisions re: the C-17, VH-71, and F136 engine, but before it was passed, H.Amdt. 392 by H.R. 3326 sponsor John Murtha [D-PA] stripped the additional $369 million for F-22 long-lead production items out of the House Bill. It passed by a 269-165 vote.
That vote was not straight party line, but it was heavily influenced. While 26 Republicans voted in favor, 165 were opposed. While 13 Democrats were opposed, 243 voted in favor. As House members prepare for negotiations with the Senate on a single, final bill to send to the President, the amendment vote, and subsequent passage of HR 3326, effectively marks the end of the F-22 program. F-22 production will continue through remaining funded orders, and cease in 2011.
Both the House and Senate versions of the 2010 defense authorization bill require a report to study the potential for F-22A exports. The House version listed only Japan, while the Senate bill did not restrict the countries involved. Development work would be required before production, however, and is almost certain to require an expensive restart of the F-22 production line when it’s complete. While it is theoretically possible to bridge that time gap by resurrecting the American program in future defense bills, the aircraft’s supply chain will stop producing certain parts, and begin losing the people associated with them, long before the final delivery in 2011. See also: Aero News.
Raptor Program shot down
July 21/09: Politics. The US Senate votes 58-40 in favor of S.Amdt 1469, the Levin-McCain amendment to strip $1.75 billion for 7 F-22As out of the Senate’s FY 2010 defense budget. The additional funds had been inserted in committee, just as the recently-passed FY 2010 House defense budget proposal contains $369 million in initial funding for 12 more F-22s.
The vote was heavily determined by state lines, with 40/50 states voting coherently. Both Republicans voted “yea” to F-22 funding removal in AZ, SC and WY. Both Democrats voted against the amendment in CA, CT, HI, NM, and WA. John Kerry [D-MA], who often reiterated his support for the F-22 in the run-up to the vote, would have added to that trend – but he voted to remove funding, and F-22 supporter Sen. Kennedy [D-MA] was absent for medical reasons. Democrat senators split in WVA (Sen. Byrd nay) while Republicans split in AL (Sen. Shelby yea), and OK (Sen. Coburn yea). In the 7 remaining cases, the split was party-based, with the state’s Democratic Party senator supporting the amendment to remove funding, and the Republican Party Senator opposing: FL, IA, LA, NE, NH, NC, and SD.
S.Amdt 1469′s passage does not entirely end the mater, since the House and Senate bills must now be reconciled in committee before they are submitted to the President. But the 17-12-1 vote among Senate Armed Services committee members to remove F-22 funding does raise the aircraft’s obstacles, absent pressure in the interim that causes Senators to shift their positions. Bloomberg News | Washington Post | POGO re: Senate Armed Services Committee member votes | Senate Roll Call.
July 15/09: Politics. S.Amdt 1469, the Levin-McCain amendment to strip $1.75 billion for 7 F-22As out of the Senate’s FY 2010 defense budget, is withdrawn from consideration. That generally means that a measure does not yet have enough reliable votes. The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) offers its own assessment of where the votes stand, then wusses out and removes its tally.
July 15/09: Politics. The Air Force Association reports that:
“It now turns out that a recent “study” touted by Pentagon leadership as the justification for terminating the F-22 fighter isn’t really a study at all, but a series of briefings by DOD’s Program Analysis and Evaluation shop and the Air Force. That word comes from the Pentagon’s top spokesman, Geoff Morrell… Defense Secretary Robert Gates has been claiming a rigorous analytical basis for stopping the F-22 since early this year. Congress has been pressing the Pentagon for a vetted analysis of F-22 requirements since 2007, when then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England was directed to provide, within a year, a comprehensive tacair plan that would specifically explain how the number of F-22s had been determined. According to various members of Congress, he never complied with this directive.”
July 13/09: Politics. President Obama threatens to veto the defense budget if F-22 funding is included. That same day, S.Amdt 1469, the Levin-McCain amendment to strip $1.75 billion for 7 F-22As out of the Senate’s FY 2010 defense budget, is introduced.
July 13/09: Politics. The right-wing Heritage Foundation discusses past and ongoing rationales for F-22 force structures, in “U.S. Air Force Fifth-Generation Fighter: The F-22A Raptor Requirements Retreat” and “Congress Should Support the Development of an Allied Variant of the F-22A.”
July 9/09: F-22 effectiveness argued. The Washington Post runs “Premier U.S. Fighter Jet Has Major Shortcomings,” an article that’s highly critical of the F-22. It alleges failure to meet key performance parameters, spiraling maintenance and operations costs, and failures of the plane’s stealth coatings in conditions like rain. The USAF offers official replies, which states that the paper got most of its cost and performance claims wrong, and furnishes figures. USAF replies, via Sen. Orrin Hatch [R-UT] | Air Force Association: “A Bagel and a Smear“.
June 29/09: Lawsuit. Stephen Trimble reports that sued former Lockheed Martin engineer Darrol Olsen has filed suit, claiming that the company knowingly supplied defective stealth coatings for the F-22. A copy of the suit is reproduced via scribd.com.
A July 2009 response [PDF] by Lockheed Martin states that:
“We believe the allegations are without merit. While we are aware of the Olsen lawsuit, the Corporation has not yet been served in this matter. We deny Mr. Olsen’s allegations and will vigorously defend this matter if and when it is served.”
June 25/09: Politics. H.R. 2647, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010, passes the House by a margin of 389 Ayes, 22 Nays, and 22 Present/Not voting. It includes $369 million in funding for long-lead materials to build 12 more F-22s.
In addition, Sec. 132 requires the Secretary of the Air Force to “develop a plan for the preservation and storage of unique tooling related to the production of hardware and end items for F-22 fighter aircraft.” Sec. 1237 requires “a report on potential foreign military sales of the F-22A fighter aircraft to the Government of Japan.”
June 18/09: Politics. House Armed Services Committee disagree with SecDef Gates’ F-22 decision, and prepare to go their own way with respect to F-22 funding. Christian Science Monitor | Aviation Week.
April 22/09: Collision. CF-18 kills! An F-22 Raptor collides with a Canadian CF-18 while taxiing on the runway at Tyndall AFB, FL. This is the 5th F-22 Class A accident in the last 6 years, and it’s a Class A accident because damage is over $1 million. That’s easy on a $150 million F-22A, even if wing damage is minor as it reportedly was in this case.
A higher accident rate per 100,000 flying hours is normal for new aircraft, and the F-22′s rate is reportedly around 7. Older F-16s and F-15s have rates around 3-4, while the venerable B-52 sits at just 1.5 per 100,000 hours. By comparison, unmanned MQ-1 Predator UAVs have a rate of close to 30 per 100,000 hours. Gannett Air Force Times | StrategyPage.
April 6/09: Politics. US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announces his recommendation to terminate F-22 orders at the end of FY 2009, leaving the USA with a fleet of 187 aircraft. Let the political fight begin.
The Hill magazine describes the production implications. The Christian Science Monitor’s “You can’t kill F-22, Georgians tell Gates” looks at the local impact of that announcement, the likely 2011-2014 production line hiring gap between the F-22 and F-35, and the role of the unions in any lobbying effort.
March 30/09: GAO Report. The US government’s GAO audit office issues its 7th annual “Defense Acquisitions: Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs. This includes the F-22A modernization and improvement program, which began in 2003. It aimed to add better air-to-ground capabilities, leverage the plane’s electronics to offer information warfare, reconnaissance, and other capabilities, and improve the aircraft’s reliability.
The plan was to field these capabilities in 3 increments, to be completed in 2010. Funding decreases, schedule slips, and changes in requirements have pushed the development date back to 2013. The USAF now plans to integrate additional capabilities beyond the three increments in a separate major defense acquisition program, and some planned enhancements have been deferred. GAO:
“One of the F-22A modernization program’s three critical technologies-processing memory-is mature. The two remaining technologies-stores management system and cryptography-are approaching maturity, and have been tested in a relevant environment… According to the F-22 program office, implementation of the modernization program’s three increments has been delayed by 3 years because of numerous budget decreases and program restructurings. Since fiscal year 2002, the F-22A’s modernization budget has been decreased by over $450 million.”
March 29/08: Israel. The Jerusalem Post reports that:
“The [Israeli] Defense Ministry will closely follow discussions in Congress next month over the United States’ 2010 fiscal defense budget amid growing speculation that a ban on foreign sales of the stealth F-22 fighter jet may be lifted to keep the threatened production line alive… “If this happens we will definitely want to review the possibility of purchasing the F-22,” explained a top military source. “In order to have strong deterrence and to win a conflict we need to have the best aircraft that exists.”
Speculation is that Israel would seek to order F-22As immediately, then wait until later in the F-35′s production cycle, when the plane will be cheaper to buy, fully tested, and more technically mature.
March 25/09: An F-22A crashes during a test mission at around 10am, about 35 miles northeast of Edwards Air Force Base, CA. The pilot is killed. For decades, Edwards has been the USAF’s Flight Test Center, where pilots push the envelope in existing and experimental aircraft. Edwards AFB was also the scene of the last F-22 crash, in December 2004.
The 49 year old Lockheed Martin test pilot, David Cooley, was a 21-year USAF veteran. He worked at the F-22 Combined Test Force, a joint team of Lockheed Martin and USAF pilots. Pentagon, initial release | USAF statement | Lockheed Martin statement | Wall St. Journal. A July 2009 Washington Post article says that the pilot was performing a high speed run with weapon bay doors open when the plane crashed.
Feb 24/09: Australia. Australian Liberal Party MP Dr. Dennis Jensen used to be a defense research scientist. He pens “US Allies Sold Short on New Fighters” as a DID guest article, decrying America’s refusal to export the F-22 to loyal allies like Australia as insulting and strategically short-sighted.
It’s significant that Jensen is a Liberal Party MP, since the previous Liberal Party government had consistently promoted the F-35A over the F-22A as Australia’s future fighter. While in opposition, current Labor Party Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon also expressed a preference for the F-22, and a desire to remove US export controls on the aircraft.
Feb 8/09: Specs. Aviation Week reports that a number of the F-22′s performance parameters are above specifications. Desired radar signature from certain critical angles is -40 dBsm, it can supercruise at Mach 1.78 rather than Mach 1.5, has better acceleration, can operate from about 65,000 feet using afterburner, and its APG-77 AESA radar has 5% better range than originally specified.
See also John Young’s Nov 20/08 transcript, below, for some contrasting but less specific comments.
Jan 20/09: Politics. President-elect Barack Obama receives letters from 200 members of Congress, urging him to continue building F-22s. The letters from the Senate (44: 25 Republican, 19 Democrat) and House (194, led by Phil Gingrey [R-GA], David Scott [D-GA], Kay Granger [R-TX], and Norman Dicks [D-WA]) also claims that his “certification” is needed by March 1/09. Otherwise, a progressive set of shut-downs in the manufacturing supply chain may begin, as final long lead-time item orders for various aircraft components are filled.
The letter cites military arguments involving advanced jet fighter projects underway abroad, and the global proliferation of advanced SA-10/20 anti-aircraft missiles, but its main focus is economic. The figure given is more than 25,000 Americans working for more than 1,000 companies in high-tech and manufacturing jobs. Stated economic multiplier effects deliver $12 billion annually once all monies paid are spent several times throughout that economy; statistically, models predict that another 70,000 local jobs would be indirectly dependent on the F-22 program. House letter text | AOL Political Machine, incl. Senate letter | Defense News.
Jan 19/09: To PACOM. A flight of 14 F-22As deployed from their home base at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska arrive at Andersen AFB in Guam for a 3-month forward deployment. A second set of 12 F-22As arrives in Kadena, Japan from Langley AFB in Virginia.
One of the things the USAF will be paying attention to is the effect that the change from Alaska’s winter to Guam’s tropical climate will have on the aircraft. This difference seems trivial, but it has a variety of implications. The Raptor’s stealth characteristics, for instance, are partly dependent on very smooth fits of its component parts. USAF re: Guam arrival | USAF re: deployment in general | Gannet’s Air Force Times | The Virginian-Pilot.
Readiness data. BACN. Exports?
Dec 16/08: The USAF announces that in January 2009, 12 Raptors will deploy to Kadena Air Base, Japan, from Langley Air Force Base, VA, and another 12 will deploy to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, from Elmendorf Air Force Base, AK. The deployments will last for approximately 3 months.
Dec 9/08: Multi-year order? Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, says that he has talked to USAF chief of staff, Gen. Norton Schwartz about buying “60 or so” more F-22As beyond the 183 now on order, which would bring the total to 243. He adds that “I am concerned that it is such an expensive system,” but added that systems like the F-35 often run into delays, and “it’s very important we have capability to bridge to that system with respect to the broad range of capabilities for the country.” Reuters.
Based on existing patterns, 60 F-22As would represent another 3-year, multi-year contract, stretching from 2010-2012. Some analysts believe this will be combined with an F-22EX push to address pressure from Australia, Israel, and Japan, and lift F-22 production numbers in order to bring down the price.
The F-35A’s initial operational date in USAF service is scheduled to be 2013, but the JSF testing program was recently pushed back 6 months, and reports indicate that the phase may be headed for financial shortfalls. With the structural viability of its F-15 Eagle fleet also a question mark, the option of keeping the F-22 production line open has support. One wild card is continuing Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, whose look ahead for the Pentagon sees the USA de-emphasizing fighters as a class, in favor of longer-range options like the “2018 bomber.”
Nov 20/08: Readiness & Upgrades. John Young, the Pentagon’s undersecretary for acquisition technology and logistics, speaks to the Defense Writer’s Group. Full DWG Transcript [PDF] | Partial transcript at The DEW Line. Key excerpts:
“The recent mission capable data for FY2008 on F-22s had a mission capable rate somewhere in the 62 percent range. I think that’s troubling. Follow-on operation tests in 2007 raised operational suitability issues and noted that the airplane still does not meet most of its KPPs. It meets some, but not all… The trend in those operational tests… is actually negative.
The maintenance man hours per flying hour have increased through those tests. The last one was a substantial increase… the Air Force had planned and expected to have kind of a two-tiered structure where some of the earlier jets were not fully capable jets, not to the block 35 or increment 3.2 configuration which provides important capabilities… But the cost of that is $6.3 billion of R&D. This is in a platform we’ve already developed. We’re going to spend six billion more of R&D to engineer the 3.2 upgrade for the software and the changes in the jet, and then about $2 billion to modify on the jets. That’s $8 billion more, and $8 billion I think needs to be spent in order to make sure the 183 airplanes we have will be highly capable fighters. Those discussions need to be had before I think you talk about buying more jets.”
Nov 19/08: Politics. The House Armed Services Air/Land subcommittee is not satisfied with the Pentagon’s response re: unfreezing F-22 funds, and holds hearings on the matter. The bottom line? The Pentagon is able to do whatever it wants, because the bill used the term “not more than,” instead of simply mandating that the full amount be spent on long-lead parts. While that was the bill’s clear intent, the normal GAO process that could force the Defense Department to obey Congress would take too long, given the coming end of the current term of government. Since the officials in question are also likely to see their terms end with the incoming administration, a damaged relationship with Congress doesn’t really mean anything to them at this point. Gannett’s Air Force Times | Aviation Week.
See also Nov 26/08 contracts.
Nov 10-18/08: Politics. Congress appropriated at least $140 million to the Pentagon to buy long-lead items for 20 F-22s, a move that would extend the production line’s life. Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England is believed to angry at the USAF’s success in getting that funding approved, despite Pentagon plans to end production. Whatever the motive, the funds were not being spent.
In an early November 2008 letter, 4 key House members pressed Gates to obligate the entire $140 million that Congress appropriated. Bipartisan signatories included House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton [D-MO] and ranking member Duncan Hunter [R-CA], Armed Services Air and Land Forces subcommittee Chairman Neil Abercrombie [D-HI] and ranking minority member Jim Saxton [R-NJ].
In response, the Office of the Secretary of Defense put out a release that unfroze funds, but allocated only $50 million for 4 fighters, adding that they would request additional money to buy the 4 fighters in the FY 2009 war-supplemental request. In January 2009, said Mr. Young, the next administration can decide to release additional advanced procurement funds, up to the Congressional $140 million ceiling. Office of the Secretary of Defense release via Washington Post | USAF | Aviation Week | Fort Worth Star-Telegram | Gannett Air Force Times | The Hill | TMC.net | Washington Post | Fort Worth Star-Telegram op-ed.
Nov 10/08: Israel. Flight International reports that sticker shock over the proposed $200 million per plane price of F-35As, and a need for rapid delivery, may push Israel to renew its F-22EX request with the new Obama administration.
“This aircraft can be delivered in two years if the deal is approved [DID: 2011, vs. 2012-14 for F-35s], and that is very important for the security of Israel,” comments one Israeli source.”
Read “Israel Requesting F-22EX Fighters” for more.
Oct 27/08: Pilot retention issue. StrategyPage reports:
“Despite signing bonuses of up to $125,000, the U.S. Air Force was unable to get many pilots to sign on for another five years (after they hit their eighth year of service, usually the mandatory service for someone to become a pilot). The bonus program did enable the air force to get 68 percent of pilots to extend their service, but the percentage that did so varied according to aircraft type. At the low end, only 43 percent of F-22 pilots stayed in. At the high end, it was 81 percent for rescue helicopter and F-15E pilots. The other signup percentages were, transport 71 percent, F-15C 68 percent, A-10 53 percent and F-16 51 percent… the air force is still trying to figure out why so few F-22 pilots, and so many F-15E and rescue helicopter pilots, want to stay.”
One possible explanation involves promotion. The USAF is now headed by a career rotary wing/special operations transport pilot, rather than the fighter pilots that had come to dominate top positions. If F-22 pilots believe they will not receive “before the zone” promotions just for being F-22 pilots, the criteria shift toward combat time and service. Which F-22 pilots will not receive, either. F-22s are optimized for precision strikes on difficult strategic targets, and wars with peer-class competitors. To date, the Secretary of Defense has elected not to deploy F-22s to counterinsurgency theaters like Iraq or Afghanistan, and that’s not likely to change.
Oct 10/08: Japan. Flight International’s “Eurofighter gets serious about Japan’s F-X contest” discusses political developments in Japan, where the Eurofighter Typhoon appears to be gaining ground as a possibility.
Flight International’s sources indicate that Japan will make one more push in 2009, after the American elections. If that fails, it is likely to abandon efforts to secure the F-22, and move to buy other options. See DID’s “F-22 Raptors to Japan” for more.
Sept 4/08: Alternative fuel. An F-22 based at Edwards AFB performs an aerial refueling using a synthetic 50/50 mix of JP-8 jet fuel and a natural gas-based fuel. The test was the culmination of Edwards test points in certifying the F-22′s use of the fuel.
It is the first time an Air Force aircraft has refueled in mid-air using an alternative jet engine fuel. USAF.
May 20/08: Hawaii. DTI’s Ares reports on the Hawaiian Air National Guard’s transformation to become the first Air National Guard commanded F-22 unit. The first F-22 simulator is scheduled to arrive in 2008, the first pilots start training in 2009, and they get their first F-22A Block 30 aircraft and a repair facility that can handle stealth fighters in 2010. Hawaii’s 15 F-15Cs will go to Nellis AFB, where they will serve as the aggressor unit for Nellis’ F-22As.
Despite the relative cost of the F-22s, the Pacific’s importance to the USAF is illustrated by the fact that Hawaii was slated to receive from 18-24 F-22s as replacements, all of which will have full ground attack capabilities. Personnel will also increase from 1.2 pilots per aircraft (18) to as much as 1.75 pilots per aircraft (up to 42), with a mix of about 25% active duty USAF pilots and 75% US ANG.
May 13/08: Make mine BACN! If you’re a stealth fighter, opening radio communication can be a bad idea – see our Aug 4/06 entry for details and coverage. At the same time, the F-22A’s tremendous information gathering capabilities have a lot to offer other American fighters.
The US military’s Joint Expeditionary Force Experiment 2008 (JEFX-08) just finished testing one option: the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) Intra-Flight Data Link subsystem (BIS). In JEFX-08, BACN-BIS received and translated selected F-22 sensor data into the standard tactical data link format and distributed the data to F-15s, F-16s and to ground-based operations centers at Nellis Air Force Base, NV and Langley Air Force Base, VA. BIS did not require modifications to either hardware or software in the F-22 aircraft, and did not compromise any of the F-22′s stealth characteristics. NGC release | DID: Bringing Home the BACN to Front-Line Forces.
May 7/08: Politics. Reuters reports that the US House Armed Services Committee’s Air & Land Forces subcommittee has recommended an additional $523 million as a down payment on long-lead items required for 20 more F-22A fighters in FY 2010. See “C-17A, F-22A May Get Reprieves from Congress.”
April 9/08: Seagulls 1, Raptors 0. F-22 airfields are being bombed, and planes are being damaged. The attackers? Gulls dropping clams onto the runways to break them, whereupon the shells get sucked into the Raptor’s $10.2 million jet engines. Langley AFB in Virginia is trying to defend them. USAF story.
Feb 18/08: Australia. Australia’s new Labor Party government formally announces a major Air Combat Capability Review. The case for and against buying F-22 Raptors, based on regional air power trends until 2045, is one of the explicit items in the ACCR’s terms of reference. See “Australia Unveils Comprehensive Airpower Review” for full details.
Feb 14/08: Radar SAR test. Northrop Grumman announces that tests aboard a company BAC 1-11 test aircraft have successfully demonstrated the AN/APG-77v1 radar’s ability to generate high-resolution, in-flight synthetic aperture radar (SAR) ground maps and moving target tracking. The test flights are the first phase of a planned multi-year contract with Boeing to add SAR capability to the existing fleet of F-22As, and incorporate them into new production aircraft. “F-22As to Add SAR/GTMI Capabilities” explains why this matters to the Raptor’s offensive and defensive capabilities.
February 2008: F-15 age-out. The US Air Force Association’s Washington Watch reports that the recent grounding of the USA’s entire F-15A-D Eagle fleet is sparking questions in Congress re: the viability of the Eagle force. The ripples are being felt by the F-22 program:
“On Dec. 12, 28 Senators and 68 members of the House of Representatives wrote to Pentagon chief Robert M. Gates, urging him to keep buying F-22s, at least through the end of the 2009 Quadrennial Defense Review. They said that, in light of the F-15 groundings and reports indicating that “significantly more than 220″ Raptors are needed to fulfill national strategy, ending F-22 production now would be, at best, “ill advised.”… In late December, Pentagon Comptroller Tina W. Jonas directed USAF to shift $497 million marked for F-22 shutdown costs to fix up the old F-15s instead. The move effectively set the stage for continued F-22 production.
…Replacing [the F-15A-D Eagles] with F-22s – above and beyond the 183 Raptors now planned – would require buying at least 20 a year to be minimally efficient. At that rate, it would take nine extra years of production to replace the F-15 fleet fully. Raise the rate, and replacement time would decrease. At 30 per year, the F-15s could be wholly replaced in six years. However, USAF is also struggling to fund the F-35 fighter. It needs to build 110 per year to replace the F-16 in a timely manner, but can only afford 48 per year in its budget…”
Jan 20-27/08: F-22, Pro and Con. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram publishes pro and con articles re: the F-22 program. On the anti F-22 side are F-16 designer Pierre Spey, John Stevenson, and Winslow Wheeler of the left-wing Center for Defense Information: “The F-22: expensive, irrelevant and counterproductive.” The Star-Telegram story appears to be incomplete, so here’s a similar op-ed from the trio on Defense Tech. Their 3 key points regarding the F-22 program deal with force structure, pilot training, and actual unit costs, which they believe to be $180 – $215 million.
On the pro F-22 side, deputy editorial page director J.R. Labbe writes “F-22 is still what the U.S. needs.” See also Oct 30/07 entry re: USAF studies, and February 2008 entry re: the US F-15 fleet, for backward and forward extensions of this ongoing debate.
Lots 7 to 9. Flying costs. FOT&E. Full Operational Capability.
Dec 12/07: F-22 FOC.. The USAF’s 1st Fighter Wing’s 27th Fighter Sqn at Langley AFB, VA, have been training since their F-22s were certified for Initial Operational Capability on Dec 15/05. IOC made them capable of emergency combat operations and limited operations like exercises and homeland defense. Now Gen. John D.W. Corley, the commander of Air Combat Command, has officially certified that the F-22 Raptors at Langley AFB have reached Full Operational Capability. This makes them available for combat deployments of any kind, around the world. USAF release.
Full Operational Capability
Nov 29/07: Ice, ice baby. A lot goes into fully fielding an aircraft. November 2007 tests at Eiselson AFB, Alaska focused on the F-22′s braking and anti-skid system, which is unique to the aircraft. In addition to looking at wheel slip like a car’s anti-lock brakes, the F-22′s system also accounts for deceleration through its pinpoint GPS/INS navigation system, in order to improve control on any surface.
Operating – and stopping – on snow, ice fog, and similar surfaces is mandatory for any USAF jet. The tests started with basic ground maneuvering on an icy surface before progressed to high-speed braking tests and eventually, both real and aborted take-off and landings under “low runway condition reading” conditions. Fortunately, the Alaska weather obliged and the team was able to finish all mandatory test points within the first 5 days of the 3-week test period. They went on to gather more data and updated the F-22′s landing charts, flight manuals, and cold-weather maintenance procedures. USAF story.
Oct 30/07: Politics. The Lexington Institute releases “Policymakers Suppress Expert Findings on Future Fighter.” The key excerpt:
“The world’s pre-eminent repository of air power expertise [DID: he means the USAF] says it needs 381. Is there some other authoritative source of insight into the right number? It turns out there are three such sources, because three separate studies on the subject were commissioned during the quadrennial review — including one requested by Mr. England himself from the same outfit that provided an earlier plan for streamlining naval aviation. So what do the studies say? The Pentagon won’t tell us… And here’s why… each study concluded that 183 F-22s isn’t enough. They all found a requirement for more, with the analysis requested by Mr. England recommending a number somewhere in the 250-aircraft range…”
Oct 29/07: Active in Alaska. The 3rd Wing at Elmendorf Air Force Base activates the 525th Fighter Squadron during a ceremony at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska. The second active-duty F-22 Raptor squadron had been based in Bitburg, Germany, and was formally activated nearly 3 months after the new F-22s officially landed on base. Lt. Col. Chuck Corcoran assumed command of the squadron with its initial cadre of 5 pilots and 4 support staff. USAF release.
Sept 28/07: Testing – GBU-39 SDB. The USAF announces that the F-22 Raptor Combined Test Force staff has conducted the first airborne separation of a small diameter bomb from the internal weapons bay of an F-22, to ensure the SDB would have a clean separation when released. Testing confirmed expectations. The tests are part of the F-22A’s Increment 3.1 upgrade.
Sept 26/07: Lockheed Martin announces that the US Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center (AFOTEC) has designated the F-22A as “effective, suitable and mission capable,” following a second increment of Follow-on Operational Test and Evaluation (FOT&E II). capabilities evaluated during the operational test included the areas of mission generation, mission support, and enhancements to air-to-air and air-to-ground employment capabilities. AFOTEC Commander Maj. Gen. Steve Sargeant:
“This second FOT&E was a significant milestone in terms of validating the F-22A’s combat capability to conduct Offensive Counter Air-Destruction of Enemy Air Defenses (OCA-DEAD) We are confident we have provided Air Combat Command and senior Air Force leaders with an accurate and complete picture of the Raptor’s impressive operational capabilities. AFOTEC also highlighted where additional resources can be focused to further mature and sustain this fifth generation fighter.”
“Effective and Suitable”
Aug 29/07: Air Force officials receive the 100th F-22 Raptor from Lockheed Martin. The milestone aircraft (USAF serial number 05-0100) will be assigned to the 90th Fighter Squadron at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska. USAF release.
Aug 13-17/07: F-117 to F-22. More than 70 49th Fighter Wing operators and maintainers gathered at the 1st Fighter Wing in at Langley Air Force Base, VA to hand off 25 years of stealth knowledge, as well as stealth integration tactics. This training is the third and final combined training between the F-117 and the F-22. Previous combined events were held at Tyndall AFB, Fla., and Nellis AFB, Nev., each with a different focus. Holloman AFB, NM will be receiving the F-22, and transitioning from the F-1117 Nighthawk. Lt. Col. Todd Flesch, the 8th Fighter Squadron commander, said that:
“This is the first time we will really be able to talk full capabilities of both jets at an operational level … The F-117 mission is going away. It’s being handed off and we need to make sure what we’ve learned is passed on correctly. In the Air Force, when one plane takes over another, we tend to reinvent the wheel. This time, it’s a total hand-over of knowledge.”
Aug 8/07: PACOM. Ceremonies are held at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska to mark the formal beginning of operations for the F-22 Raptor in the Pacific region, where the 90th Fighter Squadron is deployed. The Pacific Alaska Range Complex’s 67,000 square miles of space to train in played a role in this basing decision. USAF report | Lockheed Martin release. NOTE: Lockheed Martin changed its web back end and URLs recently, but did not include a redirect feature, thus breaking all previous links to its site.
Raptors first visited Alaska in June 2006 when the 27th Fighter Squadron at Langley AFB, VA deployed to participate in Northern Edge, a large-scale, force-on-force exercise. Lockheed Martin states that Raptor pilots flew 97% of their scheduled missions, and achieved an 80-to-1 kill ratio against their Red Air opponents. See June 9-16/06 entry for more.
July 2/07: Multi-Year buy OK. Air Force officials announce authorization from Congress to pursue multi-year agreements for Lots 7, 8 and 9. The multi-year contract approach has been controversial, with competing claims as to whether it will save money or not. Contracts with Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney are expected to follow later this summer [DID: and did, see July 31/07 contract entries]. USAF: “Materiel Command on track to deliver more F-22s.”
May 18/07: Air shows. The USAF is beginning to exhibit the F-22A at air shows. An Air Force Association Magazine article “Raptor Puts on the Ritz” describes some of the maneuvers, including the “tail slide” that is also executed by SU-30s as a way of breaking doppler radar locks.
May 10/07: PACOM. The 27th Fighter Squadron leaves Japan and begins their return to Langley Air Force Base, VA. In addition to sharpening their understanding of foreign deployment requirements, the unit also flew over 600 sorties against pilots from various US services, and the Japanese Air Self Defense Force (which is interested in buying an export version). The squadron also “conducted almost 30 tours and briefings for visiting dignitaries” during their 3 month deployment. USAF report.
April 27/07: South Korea. South Korea’s Yonhap news agency: “Seoul eyes advanced jets beyond F-15K” contends that the issue of F-22 exports to Japan will be under discussion during the imminent summit between U.S. President George W. Bush and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe this week. The decision will be watched closely by South Korea, which also wants 5th generation fighter jets for its 3rd phase F-X purchase. An excerpt:
“China is modernizing its air force at a rapid pace,” said Dennis Wilder, senior director for East Asian Affairs at the White House National Security Council. “And so we are very positively disposed to talking to the Japanese about future-generation fighter aircraft.”
DID’s coverage of South Korea’s F-X program looks at some of the obstacles in the way of granting South Korea similar treatment. See esp. its April 27/07 update.
April 20/07: Israel. Flight International reports that Israel has approached the USA about acquiring Lockheed Martin F-22s, as concern mounts about new threats to the IAF’s regional air superiority from proposed sales of advanced US weapons to the Gulf states, and Israeli assessments of a growing threat from Iran. Sources say that the issue was raised during a recent one-day trip by US defense secretary Robert Gates to Israel.
April 2/07: GAO Report – fatigue issues. The US Government Accountability Office releases #GAO-07-415 – ‘Tactical Aircraft: DOD Needs a Joint and Integrated Investment Strategy’, which describes the Pentagon’s current fighter modernization plans as “unexecutable.” The F-22 is discussed in many places, but this excerpt has immediate relevance:
“The Air Force is working with the contractor to fix structural deficiencies on the F-22A. Fatigue testing identified cracks in the aircraft near the horizontal section tail of the aircraft. The Air Force is planning modifications to strengthen the structure to get the 8,000-hour service life. The Air Force estimates the costs to modify 72 F-22As will be approximately $124 million. These modifications will not be fully implemented until 2010.”
March 26/07: APG-77v1 certified. Northrop Grumman Corporation announces radar flight-test certification for the next-generation variant of the F-22′s active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, the AN/APG-77v1. It will be installed beginning with Lot 5 production that will finish by the end of March 2007. It supposedly improves search and targeting modes, though exact details were not discussed. The flight tests were conducted as part of an overall flight-test certification of the Raptor by the Combined Test Force team at Edwards Air Force Base from Jan. 18 – March 7, 2007; it included AIM-9 and AIM-120 missile launches, and JDAM bomb drops. The flight-test certification is one of the prerequisites for the aircraft to begin the Operational Utility Evaluation (OUE) phase, after which Raptors with the new radar are considered available for combat.
March 20/07: Air shows. Pratt & Whitney announces that the USAF has selected the F-22 Raptor for their East Coast Demonstration Team beginning in April 2007 at Langley Air Force Base, VA. This marks the end of more than 20 years of showmanship by the F100-PW-100 powered F-15 Eagle East Demonstration Team, which performed for more than a million spectators annually at air shows and demonstrations.
The East Coast Demonstration air show season runs from April through mid-November 2007. The F119-powered F-22 Raptor will perform multiple flyby passes that will include a series of high and low speed climbing and turning maneuvers during its first season.
March 13/07: UID. Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne toured Pratt & Whitney’s East Hartford and Middletown operations to recognize their implementation of the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DoD) Unique Identification (UID) marking initiative. Pratt & Whitney began the UID marking program in January 2005, with data tracking on nearly 200 F119 engine parts, and is working toward UID marking on all of its military engine products. Steve Finger, Pratt & Whitney president, is quoted as saying that “We have experienced numerous measurable benefits as a result of implementing UID technology…”
See “UPC Body Publishes New Supply Chain Standards” for more information concerning the DoD-wide UID initiative. Government defense suppliers must deliver UID-compliant hardware by 2010.
March 7/07: Flying cost. In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee Air & Land Forces Subcommittee, Congressional Research Service defense specialist Christopher Bolkcom says, inter alia [PDF]:
“The military services generally would prefer to invest in new aircraft rather than modernize older aircraft. They often argue that new aircraft will be cheaper to operate and maintain than the aircraft they will replace. Frequently, this has not proven to be the case. Newer aircraft are often more complex than those they replace, and cost more to operate. The estimated flying hour cost of the F-22, for example, is $22,284.00. The estimated flying hour cost of the F-15C/D it will replace is $14,139/$13,524.”
The F-22 had been sold as being cheaper to maintain than its F-15 predecessor, just as the F-15 was sold relative to the F-4. Neither of those claims turned out to be true. This consistent trend is an important explanation for shrinking fleet numbers, even as budgets rise.
February 2007: Testing – SDB-I. The 411th Flight Test Squadron at Edwards AFB begins formal integration testing of the F-22A Raptor and the GBU-39/B Small-Diameter Bomb. See USAF Link article.
Feb 20/07: Australia. Controversy continues in Australia regarding the F-35, and has spread to include the 24 F-18 E/F Super Hornets the government is moving to buy as a stopgap until the F-35A arrives.
Feb 17-18/07: PACOM. Kadena Air Force Base (AFB), Japan received 10 F-22A Raptors in the aircraft’s first overseas deployment. The F-22As are assigned to the 27th Fighter Squadron at Langley AFB, VA, and are under the command of Lt. Col. Wade Tolliver. The aircraft started their deployment with a stop at Hickam AFB, Hawaii, but a software issue affecting the aircraft’s navigation system was discovered on February 11th, causing the aircraft to return to Hickam. The issue was corrected and the aircraft continued on to Kadena.
The 27th FS deployed more than 250 Airmen to Kadena for the 90-120 day deployment, which is part of a regularly-scheduled U.S. Pacific Command rotational assignment of aircraft to the Pacific. See USAF release.
Feb 11/07: Glitched out. The F-22A’s first foreign deployment to Kadena Air Force Base (AFB), Japan runs into a serious problem. The aircraft started their deployment with a stop at Hickam AFB, Hawaii, but a software issue affecting the aircraft’s navigation system was discovered on February 11th, forcing the aircraft to return to Hickam without navigation or communications.
The planes were very fortunate that KC-10 aerial tankers were flying with them.
Jan 17/07: Multi-Year deal. Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne tells Inside the Air Force that “We promised the Congress a savings of about $225 million,” in the FY 2007-2009 multi-year procurement (MYP) of 60 aircraft, and “we think that is very achievable and we continue to think that is very achievable… Every program has its ups and downs, but I do believe that the $225 million is achievable, and I think we can demonstrate it.”
The multi-year buy was resurrected by Sen. Saxby Chambliss [R-GA] as an amendment despite opposition from fellow Republicans Warner [R-AK] and McCain [R-AZ], but the case for it was based largely on a business case analysis conducted by the Institute for Defense Analyses in Alexandria, VA. Their now-departed CEO’s shareholdings in F-22 subcontractor EDO have cast a shadow over those findings, however, and the final FY 2007 defense bill required a new business case analysis as a condition of the MYP’s continuation.
Jan 12/07: Collier Trophy. 2006 Collier Trophy Win for F-22 Raptor aircraft team. The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) is the oldest national aviation organization in the United States, and is dedicated to the advancement of the art, sport and science of aviation in the U.S. The Collier Trophy was established in 1911, and is granted each year “for the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America… during the preceding year.” Lockheed release.
Jan 16/07: F-22 at Red Flag. “Colonial Flag” the first of three Red Flags this year, and the F-22 Raptor is participating for the first time. The USAF says that more than 200 aircraft and about 5,200 military members from the United States, United Kingdom and Australia are taking part over a pair of 2-week periods.
Other combat aircraft platforms at colonial Flag included B-2 Spirit stealth bombers, F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighters, B-1 Lancer heavy bombers, F-16 Falcons, F-15E Strike Eagles, Royal Air Force GR-4 Tornado strike aircraft, Australian F-111 Aardvark strike aircraft, and the AH-64 Apache Army helicopter. The F-22′s role was primarily air-to-air fighter escort, but it also demonstrated air-to-ground capabilities since Red Flag exercises include ground-based air-defense systems. See the USAF’s “F-22 Raptors make mark at Red Flag” for details. Fence Check Magazine adds that:
“February’s Red Flag 2007-2 at Nellis Air Force Base may prove to be the only true “Stealth Flag” involving all three US stealth aircraft… In a tour de force Red Flag debut, the 1st Fighter Wing’s 94th FS cleared the skies of “Red Force” fighters with only one purported loss during the entire two-week exercise. The Langley AFB, Virginia based squadron’s exceptional success surprised even the most experience Raptor pilots.”
Jan 10/07: PACOM. Air Force officials are scheduled to deploy a squadron of F-22 Raptors to Kadena Air Base, Japan, as part of U.S. Pacific Command’s Theater Security Package in the Western Pacific in early 2007. See USAF article.
Multi-year buy. Unit cost.
Nov 13/06: Politics. Aviation Week’s Aerospace Daily & Defense Report publishes “Rumsfeld’s Ouster, Dems’ Arrival Could Bring TACAIR Changes.” There are a number of predictions that the changes will involve more F-22As, followed by fewer F-35s and more F/A-18 Super Hornets.
Nov 1/06: Australia. AVM Criss: Does Groupthink Power Australia’s JSF? Follow-on to DID’s updated Oct 2/06 article. Retired Australian Air Vice Marshal Peter Criss pens a guest article, and discusses both the JSF decision and what he contends is a larger problem of groupthink within Australia’s DoD.
Oct 20/06: Maintenance pros & cons. Aviation Week has a report covering the F-22′s maintenance history to date. The short version: Integrating all the systems through the avionics supercomputer brain offers plusses in self-diagnostics, preventative maintenance, fewer spare parts required, and fewer repair roles.
On the other hand, avionics is 70% of the maintenance workload, and even false alarm failures can affect several systems. Some systems like the F119 engines have been better than expected, while other systems like pumps have been problematic. Read the full article.
Oct 19/06: New radar tricks. DID’s article “Elec Tricks II: $9.7M for Further Research” is a follow-on to our December 2005 piece that cites the potential to use the F-22A’s AN/APG-77 AESA radar as a secure, high-bandwidth communications relay. It seems the concept is being taken seriously, and given additional funding.
Oct 2/06: Australia. Recently-retired Australian Air Vice Marshal Peter Criss has publicly broken ranks with Australia’s DoD, and advocates buying the F-22A Raptor for Australia instead of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter. DID has the coverage – including a very in-depth submission to a Parliamentary Committee that supports Criss’ view and explains some of the thinking behind it, and submissions from the Australian government and Parliament.
Note that Australia’s planned buy of early-production F-35A aircraft could result in costs of over $100 million each, considerably narrowing the gap with the F-22 whose recently quoted price per aircraft could be as low as $130 million.
Sept 27/06: Multi-year buy. House and Senate defense appropriators have tentatively approved multi-year procurement of the F-22A, “realigning” $210 million in additional funds from the base budget line to the advance procurement line and bringing the total budget for advance procurement to $687.4 billion. The move would fund 20 fighters each year through FY 2006, 2007, and 2008; but it must remain in the final FY 2007 budget in order to become official. A move to consider foreign sales of the F-22, however, was rejected. See full Aviation Week article.
Aug 8/06: Industrial. Boeing Starts Production of Aft Fuselage for 100th F-22 Raptor. A corporate release that normally wouldn’t draw DID’s interest – but they describe a couple of the manufacturing improvements implemented during the program.
Aug 4/06: Training for stealth. Learning to handle a new and stealthy aircraft like the F-22 to its full potential isn’t just a job for its pilots. Tyndall AFB in Florida is the first base to develop integration tactics for ground and air command and F-22s, and is using the new capabilities to train all new F-22 pilot and air battle manager students.
One change is a greater emphasis on stealth-friendly mission protocols: the goal is for an F-22 pilot to leave his home base, locate, cue in on and destroy all targets, receive the locations of all possible threats, receive landing instructions and come home safely without being seen or heard, on radar or via more obvious radio intercepts. This USAF Link article covers some of the efforts along those lines, including the use of Link 16 and other relatively ‘silent’ encrypted data channels for text messaging, situation updates, etc.
July 26/06: Multi-year buy. In testimony to the Senate, Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne said the USAF has met 5/6 legislative requirements for proceeding with multi-year funding on the F-22 aircraft – the last being full funding authorization from Congress, which he intends to meet in the FY 2008 program objective memorandum. The 6 requirements under Title 10 U.S. Code, Section 2306B are: (1) promotes national security, (2) the number of aircraft required is stable, (3) the aircraft design is stable, (4) the contract will result in substantial savings, (5) the cost estimates for the contract and cost avoidance are realistic, and (6) able to provide stable funding throughout the contract period.
July 25/06: Multi-year buy. The July 25, 2006 Congressional Budget Office testimony to the Senate regarding the proposed multi-year buy of F-22s is lukewarm at best. The short version? The percentage is small relative other aircraft programs, funding for the 60 aircraft involved is not set, any cancellation costs aren’t covered, and savings are uncertain.
June 23/06: Multi-year buy & retrofits. An Air Force Link article notes that the USAF and manufacturers are finalizing F-22 design issues. Those issues include changes to the canopy actuator, the air recharge system, the nose gear retraction system, the forward boom heat treatment, and several structural retrofits. The total cost to make these repairs to the existing fleet of Raptors comes to about $105 million, and these issues will be corrected in the production line for lots 6 to 9 (each lot = 20-25 aircraft).
The USAF is also lobbying for a multi-year procurement buy for the 60 aircraft in Lots 7, 8 and 9 of the F-22A. The last jet in that series would be delivered around 2011, and the USAF estimates that bulk buys would allow savings of up to $225 million. See USAF Link article. The Project On Government Oversight disputes the savings, and the US Congress is reportedly very lukewarm on the idea so far.
June 23/06: The same USAF Link article cited above contains a quote from Maj. Gen. Richard B.H. Lewis, US Air Force executive officer for the F-22 program, which gives some precise program figures:
“By the time all 183 jets have been purchased, around $28 billion will have been spent on research and development. An additional $34 billion will have been spent on actually procuring the aircraft. That’s about $62 billion for the total program cost. Divided out, that’s comes to about $338 million per aircraft.
But the reality is, if the Air Force wanted to buy just one more jet, it would cost the taxpayer less than half that amount. The current cost for a single copy of an F-22 stands at about $137 million. And that number has dropped by 23 percent since Lot 3 procurement, General Lewis said.
“The cost of the airplane is going down,” he said. “And the next 100 aircraft, if I am allowed to buy another 100 aircraft … the average fly-away cost would be $116 million per airplane.”"
Cost per jet
June 9-16/06: Exercise Northern Edge. Exercise Northern Edge in Alaska, which includes Army troops, Navy ships, and Marines in addition to the Air Force. Participating fighters on the “Red” side included front-line F-15s, F-16s, and Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornets. 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. Red Air units were allowed to regenerate and return to the fight after being killed, but lost forces on the F-22′s “Blue” side could not. 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.
The final air-to-air tally for the F-22′s “Blue” team was a favorable 241-2 kill ratio – and the 2 lost aircraft were F-15Cs. “They [the Red Air adversaries] couldn’t see us,” said Lt. Col. Wade Tolliver. This was reportedly true even when the opponents were assisted by AWACS. Close-in, where radar-guided missiles are just one option among many, the Raptor was equally formidable. Col. Thomas Bergeson, the 1st Operations Group commander said that he and a captain engaged 6 F-16s at close range, but it was “no problem.” Even when all of their missiles were gone, the Raptors remained in the fight, flying as stealthy forward air controllers and guiding their colleagues to enemies hiding in their AWACS’ blind spots, behind mountains and such.” When the AIM-120D AMRAAM missile enters wider service, F-22s will also have the option of actively guiding missiles fired by other aircraft.
The F-22s also dropped 26 inert 1,000-pound Joint Direct Attack Munitions, responding to close air support requests from ground troops, with 26 hits. Col. Tolliver had a sensible take: “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.” USAF release | AFA article.
June 12/06: Testing – JDAM. The F-22 Combined Test Force team of The Boeing Company, Lockheed Martin, and the US Air Force successfully tested the F-22′s precision strike capabilities at White Sands Missile Range, NM. The F-22 flew at a speed of Mach 1.5 at 50,000 feet, released a 1,000 pound GPS-guided JDAM from a range of 24 nautical miles to destroy a ground target. The drop tested the Raptor’s Launch Acceptability Region (LAR) supersonic algorithm, developed by a Boeing collaboration of F-22, Phantom Works and JDAM engineers. It defines the area in the sky from which the pilot can release a weapon to successfully attack the desired target, factoring in in navigation, weather, target and weapon information. See Boeing release.
May 10/06: Titanium. Titanium prices have been cited as potential future cost issues for the F-35 and F-22 fighter programs, but a 1973 US law called the Berry Amendment has the effect of restricting supply and raising prices. On May 10, the Aerospace Industry Association reported that they’ve reached agreement in principle with senior leaders of the Defense Department on changes to the Berry Amendment.
April 29/06: Politics. Armed Services tactical air and land forces subcommittee chair Rep. Curt Weldon [R-PA] criticized the USAF’s new F-22A buying strategy, and his subcommittee proposes a different funding approach for the F-22A. Read the full Inside Defense article for all the maneuvering involved, which surely rivals most dogfights for intricacy.
Feb 20/06: F-22 Raptors to Japan? Inside The Air Force (ITAF) reports that momentum is building within the Air Force to sell the ultra-advanced F-22A Raptor abroad to trusted U.S. allies, as a way of plussing up numbers and production. The Japanese are lobbying, and some military personnel think it’s a good idea (updated May 2007).
January 10/05: Force shift? US Plans to Retire B-52s, C-21s, F-117 & U-2 for more F-22s. The move was designed to add $1 billion to the F-22A Raptor program in order to keep the production line running. As long as it is running, then future contingencies and needs leave the USAF with the option of ordering more.
The F-117 was retired, but the U-2s turned out to have no effective replacement. As of 2012, the full fleet is still serving the USAF.
Dec 15/05: Elec Tricks: Turning AESA Radars Into Broadband Comlinks. The F-22′s large AESA radar may have an important capability that it’s builders hadn’t suspected. If so, the Raptor’s ability to securely share information with other AESA-equipped planes like the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet, F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and some F-15s could rise by several orders of magnitude.
Nov 15/05: In its annual Selected Acquisition Reports (SARs) submitted to the Congress for FY 2005 (ended Sept. 30, 2005), the US Defense Department had no slippages or cost increases to report for the F/A-22, just normal milestone reporting. Its SAR was submitted to rebaseline because it progressed from a Development to a Production Estimate, following the April 2005 approval of Full Rate Production (Milestone III) for the F-22A.
Oct 24/05: Supersonic SIGINT: Will F-35, F-22 Also Play EW Role? The F-22′s abilities in this area had been kept under wraps, but it’s coming out as a result of budget lobbying. The F-22 may have electronic warfare capabilities out of the box that rival dedicated aircraft like the EA-6B Prowler, and eavesdropping and scanning capabilities that rival 707 airliner-based aircraft like the RC-135 Rivet Joint.
Oct 6/05: Titanium. Boeing is trying to get out ahead of the titanium supply issue. This issue matters to the F-22, which uses a lot of titanium.
October 2005: Air Force Magazine Online (October 2005) – England Launches New Fighter Review. Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England’s upcoming new air power review, which may provide further cuts in the F/A-22 and F-35 programs after all is said and done (in the end, the numbers remained stable).
F-22 Raptor: Contracts & Production
The F-22A Raptor was built at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics facilities in Palmdale, CA; Meridian, MS; Marietta, GA; and Fort Worth, TX, as well as Boeing’s plant in Seattle, WA. The Raptor program also includes 1,000 nationwide suppliers and subcontractors in 42 states. Final assembly and initial flight testing of the Raptor occur at Lockheed’s Marietta, GA plant facilities.
Unless otherwise specified, the Headquarters Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH issues all contracts listed here, and Lockheed Martin Corp. in Fort Worth, TX (near Dallas) is the recipient.
Major upgrade contract; 5to4 aims to improve fighter communicaiton; Sustainment; structural retrofit.
Feb 20/13: An maximum $6.9 billion indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for F-22 modernization. Lockheed Martin has confirmed that this is the Follow-on Raptor Enhancement, Development and Integration (FREDI) contract.
The previous REDI contract reached a $7.4 billion maximum (vid. Nov 18-22/11 entry). It fully funded Increment 3.2A modernization, and has funded all of Increment 3.2B to date, which includes all of the design portion and unique hardware development requirements.
FREDI will complete software development for Increment 3.2B upgrades, and then complete systems integration, developmental testing and operational testing. $6.9 billion is far less than FREDI’s $16 billion maximum (vid. Jan 26/11 entry), however, and we’re attempting to clarify that with Lockheed Martin and the USAF.
Work will be performed in El Segundo, CA; Scottsdale, AZ; San Diego, CA; Nashua, NH; and Wayne, NJ. Work is expected to be complete by Feb 20/23. This award is a result of a sole source acquisition by AFLCMC/WWUK at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH (FA8611-13-D-2850).
Feb 13/13: 5 to 4. FBO.gov:
“AFLCMC located at Hanscom, AFB, MA, requests information from industry to identify qualified, experienced, and interested sources for procurement of communications gateway products that will digitally connect and exchange data between 5th Generation Fighters (e.g., F-22 and F-35) and 4th Generation Fighters (e.g., F-15, F-16, F-18) with the potential to connect to additional platforms (e.g., Command and Control (C2) units; Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) units; bomber aircraft; and national assets).”
The BACN E-11A jet and EQ-4B UAV already do this, but there are places you wouldn’t send them. 5to4 aims to field a TRL 6+ system that allows the fighters themselves to digitally connect, connecting existing Link 16 platforms with F-22s via the Intra-Flight Data Link (IFDL), and eventually to F-35s via the Multifunctional Advanced Data Link (MADL).
Dec 18/12: FASTeR. A $613.3 million contract modification for the continued sustainment support of the F-22 part of the follow-on agile sustainment to the Raptor (FASTeR) program. Work will be performed in Fort Worth, TX until the end of the fiscal year, on Sept. 30, 2013 (FA8611-08-C-2897, PO 0165).
Dec 18/12: Support. United Technologies Corp. subsidiary Pratt & Whitney in East Hartford, CT received an $85.3 million contract modification for F119 Engine Sustainment at East Hartford, CT; Edwards Air Force Base, CA; Elmendorf AFB, Alaska; Hickam AFB, Hawaii; Hill AFB, UT; Holloman AFB, NM; Langley AFB, VA; Nellis AFB, NV; Sheppard AFB, TX; Tinker AFB, OK and Tyndall AFB, FL. Work will run until Dec 31/13 (FA8611-08-C-2896, PO 0100).
Oct 23/12: SRP-II, etc. A $133.7 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for F-22 modifications and heavy maintenance sustainment, depot throughput and installations, signature analysis system reduction, contractor field teams, structural retrofit plan (SRP-II) and modernization and common configuration work.
Work will be performed at Hill Air Force Base, UT, and Palmdale, CA until Dec 31/13 (FA8611-08-C-2897, PO 0153).
Oct 16/12: Lockheed Martin Corp. in Fort Worth, TX receives a $22.4 million cost plus fixed fee contract for F-22 modifications and heavy maintenance sustainment, depot throughput and installations, signature analysis system reduction, contractor field teams, structural retrofit plan and modernization and common configuration work.
Work will be performed at Hill AFB, UT and Palmdale, CA, and is expected to be complete by Dec 31/13 (FA8611-08-C-2897, PO 0153).
Oxygen issues. Reliability and Maintainability Maturation Program
Sept 26/12: FASTeR. Lockheed Martin Corp. in Fort Worth, TX receives a $10.4 million contract modification to support the F-22 program until Dec 31/12.
Work will take place in Marietta, GA; Fort Worth, TX; Seattle, WA; Edwards AFB, CA Elmendorf AFB, AK; , Hickam AFB, Hawaii, Holloman AFB, NM, Langley AFB, VA; Nellis AFB, NV; Sheppard AFB, TX; Tinker AFB, OK; and Tyndall AFB, FL. The AFLCMC/WWUK at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH ,manages the contract (FA8611-08-C-2897, PO 00158).
Aug 28/12: RAMMP. A $12 million contract modification for additional development work and feasibility assessments under the F-22′s RAMMP (Reliability and Maintainability Maturation Program). Work will be performed in Marietta, GA, and will be complete by Dec 3/12 (FA8611-08-C-2897, PO 0150)
June 5/12: Oxygen backup. Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, TX received a $19.2 million (face value) cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for automatic backup oxygen supply in the F-22′s Life Support System. The contract includes 40 retrofit kits, plus non-recurring engineering, and 10 spares. Work will be performed in Marietta, GA, and is scheduled to be complete by April 30/13. The ASC/WWUK at Wright Patterson AFB, OH manages the contract (FA8611-08-C-2897, PO 0145).
This won’t solve the F-22′s ongoing “hypoxia” problem, but it will provide an automatic safety backup if the F-22′s Environmental Control System (ECS) system shuts down under certain maneuvers, turning the main oxygen supply off. This is a known defect (vid. Aug 13-17/12 events entry), and the USAF’s “solution” of using a manual system that many pilots couldn’t even activate while sitting motionless ended up killing at least 1 pilot in a 2010 Alaska crash.
In May 2012 (vid. May 15/12 events entry), US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta halted long-distance F-22A combat air patrols in Alaska until Elmendorf AFB’s Raptors had this automatic backup oxygen system installed. Retrofitting the fleet will start in December 2012, and finish in 2014. See also ABC News | AP.
July 17/12: Infrastructure. Cutting Edge Concrete Services Inc. in Oro Grande, CA receives an $11.7 million firm-fixed-price contract to build a 15,000-square-yard parking apron for the F-22 at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, with an estimated completion date of July 31/13. The bid was solicited through the Internet, with 5 bids received by the US Army Corps of Engineers in Fort Shafter, HI (W9128A-12-C-0007).
June 18/12: Infrastructure. Creative Times, Inc. in Ogden, UT received a $9.6 million firm-fixed-price contract to build a 2-story F-22 system support facility at Hill AFB, UT, with an estimated completion date of Dec 3/13. The bid was solicited through the Internet, with 13 bids received by the US Army Corps of Engineering in Sacramento, CA (W91238-12-C-0014).
March 29/12: Fleet support. A $664.4 million cost-plus-incentive-fee and cost-plus-fixed-fee contract modification, paying for CY 2012′s Raptor fleet support services. Work will be performed in Marietta, GA; Fort Worth, TX; Palmdale, CA; and Seattle, WA, and will run until Dec 31/12 (FA8611-08-C-2897, PO 0119).
Adding 2012 aircraft and engine support together totals $886.4 million for 185 operational planes, or about $4.8 million per year per fighter.
Jan 20/12: O2 Know… Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, TX receives a $7 million firm-fixed-price contract for installation of a commercial sensor and associated hardware to measure the oxygen concentration and pressure within the oxygen system. The contract is the F-22′s contract, and the result will be a real time logging and display of O2 concentration, and a warning if oxygen partial pressure drops below a threshold value. Data is always good, of course, and this may help shed light on the F-22′s operational problems – but what this says is that the USAF still isn’t exactly sure what’s going on.
Work will be performed in Marietta, GA, and is expected to be complete by Aug 31/12. The ASC/WWUK at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH manages the contract (FA8611-08-C-2897 PO 0109).
Dec 22/11: Support. United Technologies subsidiary Pratt and Whitney in East Hartford, CT received a $202 million cost-plus-incentive fee, cost-plus-fixed-fee and firm-fixed-price contract for CY 2012 sustainment of the Raptor fleet’s F119-PW-100 engines.
Work will be performed in East Hartford, CT, and is expected to be complete by Dec 31/12. The F-22 Program Office at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH manages the contract (FA8611-08-C-2896, PO 0075).
Nov 18-22/11: REDI. Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, TX receives a multi-year, maximum “$7.4 billion” indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for F-22A upgrades. Work will include upgrades to existing systems, and new systems to improve performance and widen the plane’s capabilities. It’s actually just a move to raise the 2002 Raptor Enhancement Development and Integration (REDI) contract’s ceiling value by $1.4 billion to this new number, as the contract moves toward expiry at the end of 2012. Flight International reports that the USAF is preparing a $16 billion REDI II contract. Meanwhile:
“The [$1.4 billion in] extra money was necessary to pay Lockheed to change the F-22′s advanced tactical data link, accelerate the production line shutdown by four years, launch two structural upgrade programmes and fund unexpected costs of upgrading F-22s with reliability and maintainability improvements.”
One firm was solicited, and one firm submitted a proposal to the HQ Aeronautical Systems Center’s Fighter Bomber Directorate at Wright Patterson AFB, OH (F33657-02-D-0009). See also Dayton Business Journal | Reuters.
More REDI upgrades
Oct 19/11: Smarter. AFRL’s clever cost-saver. The US Air Force Research Lab’s Propulsion Directorate has developed a $35 vibration damper to prevent cracks in the F119 engine’s inlet case – a spoked, ring-like device that helps control the air going into the engine. Their fix is expected to save the USAF about $40 million, by preventing cracks. Those cracks force repair attempts, which sometimes break the $362,000 inlet case.
AFRL’s dollar-coin sized orange snubber looks like an exotic pencil eraser, and 7 of them fit in the gap opposite where the J-seal is welded to the inlet case. Each F-22 has 2 engines, so outfitting a plane costs $490. They were designed to last for half the life of the engine, but because they’re so cheap, they’ll be ordered in bulk, and new ones will be installed whenever the engine is pulled out. USAF.
Oct 17/11: SMART. A $7.2 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract modification for the F-22 SMART (Structural Maintenance and Repair Team) program. See March 2/10 entry for more context (FA8611-08-C-2897, PO 0093).
Mission Planning Environment. More spare engines.
Sept 26/11: Support. A $24.4 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract modification for engineering and depot partnering associated with F-22 non-destructive inspections, hypoxia root cause analysis, titanium crack growth, site activation, slider seals, and radar cross-section turntable (FA8611-08-C-2897, PO 0098).
Sept 21/11: Support. A $7.7 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract modification for F-22 software maintenance based on root cause analysis. This may well refer to hypoxia-like pilot issues. Work will be performed at Marietta, GA (FA-8611-08-C-2897, PO 0099).
Sept 13/11: MPE. Boeing announces an F-22 mission planning systems contract worth up to $24 million, if all options are exercised. It was awarded under the USAF’s June 2010 Mission Planning Enterprise Contract-II. Boeing will continue development and integration of the existing F-22 Mission Planning Environment (MPE), which gives F-22 crews a full range of mission information, from preflight data reports to postflight debriefing materials.
Aug 31/11: United Technologies subsidiary Pratt and Whitney in East Hartford, CT receives an $11.1 million firm-fixed-price contract modification to finalize the buy at 39 F-119-PW-100 priority initial spare engines. That’s up from earlier plans: vid. Nov 11/10, Sept 29/10 entries. Based on published announcements, the final total would be $424.6 million.
The ASC/WWUK at Wright Patterson AFB, OH manages the contract (FA8611-08-C-2896, PO 0060).
July 6/11: IMIS. Sources sought for the Raptor’s Integrated Maintenance Information System (IMIS) Oracle/Solaris platform and associated hardware. Expected contract award in July 2013. This function has so far fulfilled under the current F-22 sustainment contract (FA8611-08-C-2897) but a path to cost savings is sought. FBO (FA8211-11-R-2000).
June 20/11: Infrastructure. Leebcor Services, LLC in Williamsburg, VA wins a $6.8 million firm-fixed-price contract for the design and construction of a paint spray hangar bay addition to an existing low observable/composite repair hangar.
Work will be performed at Langley Air Force Base, VA, with an estimated completion date of Dec 15/12. The contract didn’t explicitly make the connection, but F-22s fly from Langley, and the F-22A’s stealth is a combination of shape, tapings made of special materials to cover key seams, and special paints that interfere with full radar reflection. Bids were solicited through the Internet, with 12 bids received by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Norfolk, VA (W91236-11-C-0040).
May 17/11: RAMMP. A $49.5 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract modification for retrofit installations, including retrofits associated with the Reliability and Maintainability Maturation Program (RAMMP), and Structural Retrofit Program Phase II (q.v. March 2/10 entry), for aircraft scheduled to be inducted during the Q2-Q3 of CY 2011 at the Palmdale Depot facility, as well as contractor support for depot throughput at both the Ogden and Palmdale depot facilities.
Work will be performed at Marietta, GA; Fort Worth, TX; and Seattle, WA. $9.8 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/11 (FA8611-08-C-2897, PO 0071).
Feb 10/11: FASTeR. Lockheed Martin Corp. in Fort Worth, TX receives a $726.6 million contract modification for calendar year 2011 sustainment of the F-22 fleet. At this time, $388 million has been obligated by the ASC/WWUK at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH.
Follow-On Agile Sustainment for the Raptor (FASTeR) is a Performance-Based Logistics contract providing sustaining the F-22A fleet at all operational bases, including training systems, customer support, integrated support planning, supply chain management, aircraft modifications and heavy maintenance, sustained engineering, support products and systems engineering. Based on earlier releases (vid. Aug 20/10), the value of this contract set has just jumped to around $1.4 billion for 2008-2011 (FA8611-08-C-2897; P00061). See also Lockheed Martin release.
Jan 26/11: Do the FREDI. Sources sought on FBO.gov for F-22 Follow-on Raptor Enhancement, Development and Integration (FREDI) indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (ID/IQ) contract, with an estimated maximum amount of $16 billion.
Jan 11/11: Sub-contractors. Matrix Composites in Rockledge, FL ships its last critical F-22A structure. Matrix was one of only 4 companies qualified worldwide to produce specific components related to the aircraft’s fuselage and critical airframe components, and had been manufacturing Raptor components since 2005, with a notable pickup at the end of October 2006.
More than 20 trained aerospace technicians were employed on the project, specializing in the use of close-tolerance resin transfer molding (RTM). Despite the end of F-22A work, Matrix anticipates significant growth over the next 3 years, including some F-35 opportunities they’re pursuing.
Nov 11/10: Engines. Pratt & Whitney in East Hartford, CT received a $100.7 million contract modification for 8 F119 engines. It increases an unfinalized contract for priority initial spare F119 engines to 33 total (q.v. Sept 29/10).
All funds have been committed by the ASC/WWUK at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH (FA8611-08-C-2896; P00044).
Oct 25/10: RAMMP. Lockheed Martin Corp. in Fort Worth, TX receives a $15.2 million contract modification covering installation of the F-22 reliability and maintainability maturation program’s engineering change proposals on fielded fighters. At this time, all funds have been committed by the ASC/WWUK at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH (FA8611-08-C-2897; P00060).
See also entries for Sept 23/10, March 2/10.
RAMPP; FASTeR; SRP II.
Sept 29/10: Engines. United Technologies Corp. subsidiary Pratt and Whitney in East Hartford, CT receives a not-to-exceed $33.1 million contract modification to buy 3 priority initial spare F-119-PW-100 engines, bringing the totals to $312.8 million for 25 engines. At this time, all funds have been committed by the ASC/WWUK at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH (FA8611-08-C-2896; P00041).
Sept 24/10: Engines. United Technologies Corp. subsidiary Pratt and Whitney in East Hartford, CT receives a not-to-exceed $279.7 million contract modification to buy 22 priority initial spare F-119-PW-100 engines. At this time, all funds have been committed by the ASC/WWUK at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH (FA8611-08-C-2896; P00040).
Sept 23/10: RAMMP. Lockheed Martin Corp. in Fort Worth, TX receives a $12 million contract modification for development of the F-22 reliability and maintainability maturation program. This change will increase the ceiling cost for “over and above work” beyond regular efforts, and buy wet weather repairs for actuator interface module components. At this time, all funds have been committed (FA8611-08-C-2897; P00057).
Sept 1/10: Spares. A $15.6 million contract modification for 20 spare integrated F-22A forebodies. All funds have been committed (FA8611-06-C-2899; P00102).
Aug 31/10: Support. United Technologies Corp. subsidiary Pratt and Whitney in East Hartford, CT receives a $9.1 million contract modification finalizing calendar year 2010 sustainment, combined test force operations, and support for the F-22A’s F119-PW-100 engines. “At this time, $90,157,719 has been obligated.” (FA8611-08-C-2896; PO0030).
Aug 20/10: FASTeR. Lockheed Martin Corp. in Fort Worth, TX receives a $111.4 million contract modification to provide “sustainment” (spares and support) for the F-22 program in calendar year 2010. “At this time, $241,645,563 has been obligated” by the ASC/WWUK at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH manages this contract (FA8611-08-C-2897, PO 0049).
Actually, Lockheed Martin’s release places the total value of the Follow-On Agile Sustainment for the Raptor (FASTeR) contract at $709 million, including the initial 2008 contract and 2009 extension.
FASTeR is a Performance-Based Logistics contract providing sustaining the F-22A fleet at all 7 operational bases for the 2010 calendar year, including training systems, customer support, integrated support planning, supply chain management, aircraft modifications and heavy maintenance, sustained engineering, support products and systems engineering.
July 6/10: Support. A not-to-exceed $23 million contract modification for continued funding of F-22 sustainment services and activities, including items over-and-above the base contract. At this time, $17.4 million has been committed by the 478th AESG/SYK at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH (FA8611-08-C-2897, P00050).
March 2/10: RAMMP/ SRP-II. Lockheed Martin Corp. in Fort Worth, TX received a $568.5 million contract, incrementally funding an unfinalized Dec 15/09 contract for the F-22′s Structural Retrofit Program II and Reliability and Maintainability Maturation Program during calendar year 2010. At this time, $411.2 million has been committed by the 478 AESG/SYK at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH (FA8611-08-C-2897, P00040).
Mr. Glenn Miller, F-22 Program Office advisor for the 478th Aeronautical Systems Group, later offered these explanations:
“The structures Retrofit Program (SRP) II is phase II of a 2-part structural retrofit program designed to correct structural concerns discovered during the F-22 Full Scale Fatigue Test (FSFT) conducted in 2005. The process… is a routine structural integrity process performed on all modern Air Force platforms to proactively detect and repair damage… SRP I was designed to correct structural deficiencies with life short falls less than 2000 flight hours while SRP II was designed to correct structural deficiencies with life short falls between 2000 and 8000 flight hours. The SRP II program is scheduled to complete in 2015.
The Reliability and Maintainability Maturation Program (RAMMP) [aims] to drive continuous improvement in weapon system reliability and maintainability… metrics [include]… Availability… Maintenance Man Hours per Flight Hour [MMH]… Mean Time Between Maintenance (MTBM)… Return on Investment. The scope of RAMMP includes: development, retrofit, and the earliest possible production cut-in of the change. In summary, RAMMP projects must be affordable, technically viable, and provide a high return on investment.”
Feb 25/10: Infrastructure. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Albuquerque, NM issues solicitation #W912PP-10-B-0032, an Invitation for Bid (IFB) open only to Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses. The project is a 1,347 square meter munitions maintenance facility for the F-22 weapons systems at the Munitions Storage Area on Holloman AFB, NM. This project will provide 6 munitions maintenance bays to support the F-22 Raptor, and a small administrative area for meetings, office, break, locker, toilet, training and support areas. This building is being constructed as a permanent facility with a life expectancy exceeding 25 years.
NAICS code is 236210/SIC 1541, with a size standard of $33.5 million, and a magnitude of construction estimate between $1-5 million. Bonding will be required for this acquisition, and bidders must be registered with Central Contractor Registration in order to receive a contract. Plans will be issued on or about March 15/10 with bids due on or about April 15/10.
Dec 24/09: Engines. United Technologies Corp. subsidiary Pratt & Whitney in East Hartford, CT received a $95.4 million modified contract for 8 F119-PW-100 installed engines under Lot 10 production. They will equip the last 4 F-22As ordered. At this time, $25 million has been committed (FA8611-09-C-2901).
Dec 11/09: Support. A $550.4 million contract “which will provide for the F-22 weapons system during the CY2010.” This appears to be a fleet sustainment contract. At this time, $312.1 million has been committed (FA8611-08-C-2897, PO 0036).
Dec 11/09: Support. United Technologies Corp. in East Hartford, CT receives a $148 million contract which will provide “CY20 sustainment of the F119-PW-100 engines.” Presumably, the Pentagon means “CY 2010.” At this time, $59.9 million has been committed (FA8611-08-C-2896, P00020).
Nov 26/09: Flares. Kilgore Flares Co. in Toone, TN, a subsidiary of UK-based Chemring Group, received an indefinite delivery/ indefinite quantity contract, with a potential value of $54 million, to supply MJU-39 and MJU-40 infrared (IR) decoy flares for the F-22 aircraft. The flares are designed to defeat air-to-air IR guided missiles. The contract extends over a 4-year period; the 1st delivery order of $24 million, for delivery in 2010 and 2011, has been placed by the US Air Force. The 784 CBSG/PK at Hill Air Force Base, UT manages the contract (FA8213-10-D-0012).
Oct 29/09: Last 4. Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, TX receives a $474.2 million contract for full production of 4 Lot X F-22A aircraft, alternate mission equipment, production engineering support and work in process through Aug 11/09 for 16 shipsets of raw material aircraft fuselage titanium. The 478 AESG/PK at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH manages the contract (FA8611-09-C-2900, P00007).
Lot 10 lead-in.
2009 orders are being conducted under a multi-year buy. See July 31/07 for key entries.
Sept 29/09: Support. Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, TX receives an $11 million contract to provide F-22 field team support at various bases. At this time the entire amount has been committed by the 573th AESS/SYK at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH (FA8611-08-C-2897, P00033).
Sept 14/09: Engines. United Technologies Corp. subsidiary Pratt & Whitney of East Hartford, CT received a $6 million contract to provide nozzle modules for F119 Combined Test Force Engines. At this time the entire amount has been committed by the 478th AESG/PK at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH (FA8611-08-C-2896,P00010).
Sept 9/09: Training. Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, TX received a $77.7 million contract modification for procurement of multi-year F-22 pilot training devices in 4 simulated cockpit configurations (FA8611-06-C-2899).
April 2/09: The Watterson/Davis JV in Anchorage, Alaska received a $38.6 million firm-fixed-price contract to design and build the U.S. Air Force and Air Force Reserve F-22 squadron operations/aircraft maintenance unit’s 6-bay hangar facility, (PROJ: ELM297/292) at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska. The estimated completion date is March 24/11.
The U.S. Army Engineer District, Alaska at Elmendorf Air Force Base, AK solicited 8 bids, received 4, and will manage this contract (W911KB-07-D-0013).
Dec 16/08: Support. The USAF exercising a $784.1 million option with Lockheed Martin Aeronautics in Fort Worth, TX, for pre-priced calendar year 2009 F-22 Weapon System Sustainment. Work will be performed in Marietta, GA.
Dec 16/08: SPaRE. The USAF is exercising a $285 million option for 2009 sustainment of the Raptor’s F119-PW-100 Engines with United Technologies subsidiary Pratt and Whitney Aircraft Group in East Hartford, CT. The Support Program for the Raptor Engine (SPaRE) includes spare parts, labor support, fleet management and technical support. Pratt & Whitney.
Dec 4/08: Infrastructure. A $29.1 million modification to a cost plus award fee contract, to incorporate CCP 0184 re: F-22 Depot Activation Equipment for fiscal years 2007 and 2008. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated (FA8611-08-C-2897, #P00006).
Nov 26/08: Lot 10 lead-in. An estimated $180 million not-to-exceed contract, providing for long-lead time materials and assemblies to cover 4 Lot X F-22A aircraft, with an option for an advance buy on behalf of 16 additional Lot X F-22As. At this time, $49 million has been committed (FA8611-09-C-2900).
Nov 26/08: Engines. A $7 million not-to-exceed, firm-fixed price contract to United Technologies subsidiary Pratt and Whitney in East Hartford, CT. The contract will buy long-lead time materials for 8 Lot X F119-PW-100 engines, which would equip 4 F-22A fighters. At this time, $1 million has been committed (FA8611-09-C-2901).
See Nov 10-19/08 entries in the “Events: 2008″ section for further background regarding this partial-compliance move by the Pentagon.
2008 orders are being conducted under a multi-year buy. See July 31/07 for key entries.
July 31/08: Sub-contractors. EDO Corp. Defense Systems, of North Amityville, NY received a firm-fixed-price contract not to exceed $18.2 million for 139 of their BRU-46 and 220 of their BRU-47 Bomb Release Units.
Both designs are fielded as bomb racks for the F-15E Strike Eagle. The F-22A’s standard ground attack weapons will be up to 8 of the derivative GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb, a 250 pound, GPS-guided glide bomb weapon designed to penetrate hardened structures. On the F-22, the BRU-47 is reportedly used to carry external fuel tanks.
At this time $9.1 million has been obligated. 542nd Combat Sustainment Wing, Contracting Division, 782nd CBSG/GBKAA, Robins Air Force Base, Ga., is the contracting activity (FA8520-08-C-0013).
April 25/08: Testing. Lockheed Martin Corp. of Orlando, FL received a modified contract for $5.5 million, in exchange for 20 Common Organizational Level Testers (COLT) and accessory kits under F/A-22 Option 5. At this time, all funds have been committed (FA8626-04-C-2060 P00029).
April 23/08: Sub-contractors. Northrop Grumman announces multiple contracts for the F-22A’s communications, navigation and identification (CNI) systems. Lockheed Martin has awarded them contracts worth $252 million since Jan 1/08, covering F-22 Production Lots 7-9, spares, and CNI modernization efforts.
Northrop Grumman’s integrated CNI system uses software-defined radios and provides 14 critical functions, including advanced multichannel/multiband voice and data links, flight navigation and friend-or-foe identification to F-22 pilots. Northrop Grumman’s F-22 CNI production, integration and test and modernization activities take place at Northrop Grumman facilities in San Diego, CA, and are supported by approximately 70 suppliers in 22 states. NGC release.
April 22/08: Engines. United Technologies Corp. subsidiary Pratt and Whitney Aircraft Group of East Hartford, CT received a modified contract for $6.9 million. The firm will refurbish 3 F-22 Raptor F119 Test Engines (FA8611-05-C-2851).
April 15/08: Infrastructure. Bristol Environmental & Engineering Services Corp. in Anchorage, AK won a $5 million firm-fixed price contract to design and build Elmendorf Air Force Base’s F-22 infrastructure Phase II, and F-22 taxiway, taxi lanes, and arm/de-arm sites. Work is expected by be complete on Oct 30/09. Web bids were solicited on Nov 8/07, and 3 bids were received by the U.S. Army Engineer District, Alaska (W911KB-08-C-0007).
April 14/08: Infrastructure. Native-owned business Chugach Government Services, Inc. in Anchorage, AK won a $14.1 million firm-fixed price contract for construction of the F-22 jet inspection and maintenance facility at Elmendorf Air Force Base, AK. Work is expected to be completed on Sept 28/09. Web bids were solicited on Nov 17/07, and 3 bids were received by the U.S. Army Engineer District, Alaska (W911KB-08-C-0009).
Feb 20/08: Support. A contract modification for $182.6 million for “sustainment of the F-22 Weapon System during Calendar Year’s 2008 and 2009. At this time $258,763,747 has been obligated” (FA8611-08-C-2897).
Feb 20/08: Support. United Technologies Corp. subsidiary Pratt and Whitney of East Hartford, CT received an undefinitized contract modification for $101.2 million to provide CY 2008 support for the F-22 Raptor’s F119 Engines. Each aircraft carries 2 F119 engines with thrust-vectoring capabilities. “At this time $129,834,373 has been obligated” (FA8611-08-C-2896).
Dec 13/07: Support. An undefinitized contract for $512.1 million, to provide sustainment & support of the F-22 fleet during the calendar year 2008. “At this time [$384.1] million has been obligated” (FA8611-05-C-2850 P00076).
Dec 13/07: Support. A firm fixed price contract for $9.1 million; at this time $5 million has been obligated. The US Defense Department adds, helpfully: “This effort supports F-22 aircraft.” One would hope so (FA8611-06-C-2899 – P00023).
Dec 13/07: SPaRE. United Technologies Corp. subsidiary Pratt and Whitney Aircraft Group of East Hartford, CT received an undefinitized contract of $114.7 million for F119-PW-117-PW-100 engines, and calendar year 2008 sustainment (the part that isn’t finalized yet). At this time $86 million has been obligated (FA8611-05-C-2851).
This support program for the Raptor engine (SPaRE) involves activation of Holloman Air Force Base (AFB) in Alamogordo, New Mexico, and sustainment for fielded engines in 2008, with an option to support activation of Hickam AFB in Honolulu, Hawaii, and sustainment services in 2009. Sustainment activities include spare parts and labor support, fleet management and technical support of the F119 engine.
Dec 12/07: Infrastructure. BAE Systems opens a new 30,000-square-foot facility in its South Nashua, New Hampshire campus for production work on the F-22A Raptor and F-35 Lightning II electronic warfare suites, which provide threat warning and jamming. About 60 suppliers from New Hampshire provide products and services to support the programs, and the site will support more than 1,400 of BAE Systems’ 4,500 New Hampshire employees who contribute to the F-22 and F-35 programs.
In BAE’s release, Nashua VP Operations Mike Dow says that the new facility is “capable of assembling and testing complex microwave products and performing assembly, integration, and acceptance testing at significantly reduced cost and cycle times.”
Oct 16/07: Training. Boeing announces a $46 million contract from Lockheed Martin to integrate the F-22A the U.S. Air Force Distributed Mission Operations (DMO) training network, which will enable Raptor pilots to train with other aircrews flying different simulated aircraft at locations throughout the world. Once the contract is complete, Raptor pilots on the East Coast would be able to train with AWACS crews in the Midwest and F-15 pilots in Europe, as part of a joint synthetic battlespace made up of a combination of live, virtual, and programmed-in elements.
The contract allows for the design and test of new software and systems for the F-22 Full Mission Trainer (FMT), and the Boeing team will incorporate the enhanced FMTs into an F-22 Mission Training Center (MTC) that is scheduled to begin operations in 2009. The Boeing release adds that Lockheed Martin’s Marietta, GA facility recently delivered Raptor no. 103 to the Air Force. See “F-22s to Become Part of Joint Simulated Training.”
Contract for 24 aircraft.
July 31/07: A firm-fixed-price, firm-fixed-price w/economic price adjustment and cost-plus-fixed fee contract modification for $5.05 billion for the F-22 multi-year aircraft advance buy. This is an Economic Ordering Quantity and Full Rate Production contract for 60 aircraft: Lots 7, 8 and 9. At this time, $332.5 million has been obligated. Work will be complete June 2012. (FA8611-06-C-2899/no modification number at this time).
Lockheed Martin’s release states that this order is on top of $2.3 billion used to buy long lead- time parts and maintain continuous manufacturing flow, bringing the total cost to $7.35 billion. The release says that the multi-year contract is estimated to save approximately $400 million compared to a corresponding annual procurement program, which equates to a savings of $6.85 million per aircraft. To date, 105 Raptors have completed final assembly at the Lockheed Martin facility in Marietta, GA, and 99 have been delivered to the USAF.
July 31/07: United Technologies Corp. subsidiary Pratt & Whitney received a $1.28 billion fixed-price with economic price adjustment and firm-fixed-price contract modification from the United States Air Force to deliver F119 engines for the F-22 Raptor in a multi-year contract spanning 2008, 2009 and 2010. The number of engines was not specified, but the USAF plans to order 60 aircraft during this time, which means at least 120 engines plus spares.
At this time, $367.6 million has been obligated. Solicitations began April 2006, negotiations were completed in July 2007, and work will be complete February 2011 (FA8811-06-C-2900/No modification number at this time). P&W release – which came out a day before the DefenseLINK announcement. A contract of this magnitude also attracts dignitaries.
Multi-year buy: 60 more
April 10/07: An $11 million firm-fixed-price contract modification. “This contract action will definitize Lot 8 Advanced Buy through 12 October 2007, in support of the F-22 program.” At this time, all funds have been obligated and work will be complete December 2011 (FA8611-06-C-2899, PO 0015).
April 10/07: Sub-contractors. GKN Aerospace announces 2 new contracts, with a combined value of just under $15 million, raising the value of GKN’s work per aircraft to over $5 million. Overall, GKN supplies high performance metallic and composite assemblies for the aircraft wing, body and engine, plus the complete advanced cockpit canopy system.
The first contract covers the Inlet Lip Assembly that surrounds the engine intake. It is made up of multiple hand lay-up and resin transfer molded composite details which are assembled into extremely tight tolerance requirements. GKN Aerospace will manufacture and assemble this part for 50% of the aircraft in lots 5 – 9, with deliveries from 2007-2009.
The second contract covers the chine edge, the co-cured composite structural cover over the area where the cockpit and fuselage transition into the wing. That contract covers aircraft Lots 6-9 on a sole-source basis, with deliveries commencing by the end of 2007 and continuing to 2009.
Work on both contracts will take place alongside the F-22A stabilator manufacture and assembly (see Nov 22/06), at GKN Aerospace’s St Louis, MO plant.
April 2/07: Engines. United Technologies Corp. in East Hartford, CT received a $107.6 million fixed-price with economic price adjustment contract for “12 install and 1 spare F-119-PW-117-PW-100 engines.” Hard to say what that means, as the designation seems to be off and may also be referring to engines that power other aircraft. At this time, $96.8 million have been obligated. Work will be complete July 2008 (FA8626-07-C-2076).
March 30/07: Support. United Technologies Corp. in East Hartford, CT received an $116.2 million cost-plus-fixed fee, firm-fixed-price, and cost-plus-award fee contract modification to provide F-119 engine Lot 6 for CY 2007 sustainment. At this time, $80.7 million have been obligated. Negotiations were complete March 2007, and work will be complete December 2007 (FA8611-05-C-2851, PO 0015).
March 9/07: PALS. A $248.4 million cost-plus-award fee & cost-plus-fixed fee contract modification finalizes Performance-Based Agile Logistics Support (PALS) contract line items 0207, 0216, and 0217. Work will be complete December 2009 (FA8611-05-C-2850, PO 0030)
March 9/07: Engines. United Technologies Corp. subsidiary Pratt & Whitney in East Hartford, CT received a $27.2 million firm-fixed-price contract modification, finalizing the purchase of F119 engine Lot 7 long lead items. At this time, $13.6 million has been obligated, and work will be complete September 2007 (FA8611-06-C-2900, PO 0002).
Feb 27/07: Support. A $107.3 million cost-plus-award fee and cost-plus-fixed fee contract modification, extending the contractor’s current authorization to provide F-22 sustainment from Jan 31, 2007 – Feb. 28, 2007 to April 30, 2007. At this time, $80.4 million have been obligated. Work will be complete December 2009 (FA8611-05-C-2850, PO 0041).
Feb 27/07: Support. United Technologies subsidiary Pratt and Whitney Aircraft Group in East Hartford, CT received a $49.6 million cost-plus fixed-fee, firm-fixed-price and cost-plus award-fee contract for F119-PW-119 Engine Lot 6, calendar year 2007 sustainment. At this time, $24.8 million has been obligated, and work will be complete June 2007 (FA8611-05-C-2851).
Feb 26/07: Engines. United Technologies subsidiary Pratt and Whitney Aircraft Group in East Hartford, CT received a $45 million firm-fixed-price contract modification. It covers “F-119 Engine Multi-Year Economic Order Quantity Effort, Undefinitized Contract Action (UCA)” – in other words, they’re ordering key parts and materials in advance, in order to bulk up the order and drive prices for each item down. The F-22A’s current multi-year contract framework lets them do more of this, instead of just ordering year by year. All funds are already obligated, and work will be complete January 2010 (FA8611-06-C-2900, PO 004).
Feb 5/07: Engines. United Technologies subsidiary Pratt and Whitney Aircraft Group in East Hartford, CT received a $18.8 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for 2 Lot 6 F119-PW-100 engines for F-22 replacement test aircraft. This work will be complete January 2008. (F33657-05-C-2851, PO 0014)
Jan 8/07: Multi-Year lead-in. A $255 million firm fixed price contract modification “for an F-22 multiyear economic order quantity procurement.” To date all funds have been obligated, and work will be complete December 2011 (FA8611-06-C-2899/No Modification number at this time).
Dec 29/06: Engines. United Technologies subsidiary Pratt and Whitney Aircraft Group in East Hartford, CT received a $27.2 million firm fixed price contract modification. This provides for long lead undefinitized buys in preparation for F119-PW-100 Engine Lot 7. To date, $13.6 million has been obligated. Work will be complete September 2007 (FA8611-06-C-2900)
Dec 27/06: PALS. A $204.8 million cost-plus-award fee and cost-plus-fixed fee contract modification, authorizing Lockheed to provide F-22 Performance Based Agile Logistics Support (PALS), from January 1, 2007 through February 28, 2007. At this time $153.6 million have been obligated. Work will be complete December 2009 (FA8611-05-C-2850, PO 0042)
Dec 27/06: Support. United Technologies Corp. in East Hartford, CT received a $12.1 million cost-plus-fixed fee contract modification for F119-PW-100 Engines Support to Combined Test Force (CTF) Infrastructure at Edwards Air Force Base, CA. At this time $4.2 million have been obligated. Work will be complete July 2007 (F33657-05-C-2851, PO 0012).
Dec 21/06: Titanium. A $379.6 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for the remaining Lot 8 Advanced Buy Requirements and for Lot 9 Advanced Procurement for Titanium in support of the F-22A Lot 9 aircraft. This is one of the major advance purchases as part of the ongoing multi-year buy – see Sept 27/06 entry in “Program and Events” for more. Work will be complete December 2011 (FA8611-06-C-2899, PO 0009).
Dec 21/06: Engines. United Technologies Corp. subsidiary Pratt & Whitney in East Hartford, CT received a $50 million firm-fixed-price and cost-plus-fixed fee contract modification. This action provides for Lot 6 F119-PW-100 Engines (46) for the F-22, and associated Field Support and Training (FS & T) for calendar year 2006. Work will be complete January 2008 (FA8611-05-C-2851/PZ0008).
Dec 5/06: Landing gear. A $9 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for the upgrade of the F-22 engineering, manufacturing, and development landing gear trainer to an “aircraft 4041 configuration” (the designation for the first operational F-22A Raptor), to be consistent with other training devices delivered to Sheppard Air Force Base. At this time, total funds have been obligated. Solicitations began August 2005, negotiations were complete September 2006, and work will be complete by October 2008 (FA8611-04-C-2851, PO 0060).
Nov 22/06: Sub-contractors. GKN Aerospace announces a $50 million contract to be the sole source provider of the complete horizontal stabilator for the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor. This brings the total value of GKN Aerospace work on the F-22 to $4.9 million per ship set.
This contract covers lots 7-9 of the aircraft program. and requires fabrication of advanced composite assemblies, machining of complex titanium parts, and full assembly of the complete stabilator for delivery to Lockheed Martin in Marietta, GA. Work will take place at the GKN Aerospace plant in St Louis, MO, with deliveries commencing in the fourth quarter of 2007 and continuing until the end of 2010.
Nov 21/06: A $1.05 billion firm-fixed-price contract modification for 24 F-22A aircraft: 23 service aircraft and 1 replacement test aircraft (TL 24). This action supports the F-22 Lot 6 Full Production contract, and the Pentagon oddly notes that “$1,466,447,970 have been obligated.”
Work will be complete February 2010 (FA8611-05-C-2850). Note that this doesn’t represent the aircrafts’ full cost, just the parts that haven’t been covered by long-lead procurement, and by the separate buys of “government furnished equipment” like engines, etc.
Lot VI: 24 more
Nov 20/06: Sub-contractors. GKN Aerospace has won a $50 million contract from Lockheed Martin to be the sole source provider of complete horizontal stabilators (i.e. fully-moving horizontal tail fins) for Lot 7-9 F-22A Raptors, with delivery from Q4 2007-2010. This brings the total value of GKN Aerospace work on the F-22 to $4.9 million per aircraft. This contract is the culmination point of several capabilities and processes, all placed under one roof – see full DID coverage.
Nov 15/06: Flares. Kilgore Flares Co. LLC in Toone, TN received an $18.5 million firm-fixed-price contract to procure replenishment spares for the F-22 aircraft. The products purchased are flares, specifically MJU-39, MJU-40 and BBU-59 designed to defeat air-to-air guided missiles. At this time, total funds have been obligated. Solicitations began February 2006, negotiations were complete October 2006, and work will be complete June 2008. The Headquarters Ogden Air Logistics Center at Hill Air Force Base, UT issued the contract (FA8213-0-C-undefined).
Nov 1/06: Lot 7 lead-in. A $1.23 billion firm-fixed-price contract modification supporting the F-22 Lot 7 Long Lead Procurement. This is technically a “funding modification to the ongoing undefinitized contract action,” but it’s part of the multi-year 2007-2009 production contract for 60 F-22As that was recently agreed upon. At this time, $403.2 million have been obligated, and work will be complete October 2009 (FA8611-06-C-2899, PO 0007).
Lot 6, 7.
Sept 29/06: Support. United Technologies Corp. in East Hartford, CT received a $6 million cost-plus-fixed fee contract modification for the Lot 4 F119 engines Life Cycle Reduction Program. Work will be complete August 2009 (F33657-03-C-2011). See the presentation “Cost Reduction Task Force Key to Raptor Affordability” [PDF, 8.6 MB] for more context.
Sept 27/06: Lot 6 lead-in. A $98.9 million firm-fixed-price contract modification. This undefinitized contract action increase is not-to-exceed, F-22A Lot 6 long-lead procurement and funding through Oct. 31, 2006. At this time, $74.1 million has been obligated. Work will be complete February 2010 (FA8611-05-C-2850, PO 003).
Sept 27/06: A $17.9 million firm-fixed-price contract modification provides for production support systems in support of F-22A Lot 6 production; all funds have already been obligated. Work will be complete February 2010 (FA8611-05-C-2850, PO 0029)
Sept 21/06: Engines. United Technologies Corp. in Hartford, CT received a $455.1 million firm-fixed-price & cost-plus-fixed fee contract modification covering Lot 6 production of 48 F119 engines, plus calendar year 2006 field support and training. Solicitations began July 2005, negotiations were complete September 2006, and work will be complete December 2006. The Headquarters Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH issued the contract (FA8611-05-C-2851/ P00010).
Sept 5/06: Sub-contractors. Defense Systems in North Amityville, NY received a $10 million firm-fixed-price contract for “bomb rack units in support of F-22 aircraft.” Half of the funds have already been committed, and work will be complete in January 2009. The Headquarters 542d Combat Sustainment Wing at Robins Air Force Base, GA issued the contract (FA8520-06-C-0015).
Aug 16/06: PALS. A $119.9 million firm-fixed price and cost-plus-fixed fee contract modification. This undefinitized contract action increases the current undefinitized contract action amount in order to extend the period of performance for Performance Based Agile Logistics Support (PALS). PALS for F-22A Lot 6 Contract Line Item Numbers will extend until September 30, 2006. At this time, $89.9 million has been committed (FA8611-05-C-2850)
Aug 8/06: Titanium. A $19.6 million firm-fixed-price undefinitzed action contract for advance procurement of titanium in support of F-22A Lot 8 aircraft, with full funds committed. Work will be complete in October 2009, which is when Lot 8 production is scheduled (FA8611-06-C-2899).
As noted above, the F-22 makes heavy use of titanium in order to give it the lightness, strength, and temperature resistance required. Someone obviously thinks the price is about to rise – and given increased global demand, they’re hardly alone.
July 12/06: Engines. United Technologies Corp. subsidiary Pratt and Whitney in East Hartford, CT received a $16.5 million firm-fixed-price and cost-plus-fixed fee contract modification. This undefinitized contract action for Lot 6 production F119 engines covers long lead items and field support, and a training period of performance extension. Solicitations began July 2005, negotiations were complete in July 2006, and work will be complete by December 2006 (FA8611-05-C-2851, PO 0007).
July 5/06: We’re just going to quote this one. It’s a firm-fixed-price contract modification to Lockheed Martin, for $552.7 million. Negotiations were complete in June 2006, and work will be complete February 2010:
“This undefinitized contract action extension period of performance is through Sept. 30, 2006, for F-22A lot 6, long-lead activities and increase not-to exceed.” …The public affairs point of contact is Capt. Everdeen, (937) 255-1256… (FA8611-05-C-2850).
We’ve been inquiring with Capt. Everdeen re: a translation of exactly what’s going on here for over a week now, and have received no response from the F-22 Program Office. Even they probably can’t understand language like this – but if one of our readers does, please mail tips@… here at defenseindustrydaily.com and enlighten us.
July 5/06: Support. A $99 million firm-fixed-price contract modification. This undefinitized contract action is for F-22 lot 6 program support/annual sustaining period I through Sept. 30, 2006. Negotiations were complete in June 2006, and work will be complete by September 2006 (F33657-97-C-0031).
June 15/06: Lot 7 lead-in. A $187.1 million firm-fixed-price contract modification to provide for an extension to the advance buy period of performance from June 2006 through September 2006, and increases the outlay amount. This action supports F-22A Lot 7 production. Work will be performed at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. in Marietta, GA (33%) and Fort Worth, TX (35%); and Boeing Information and Space Defense Systems, Aircraft and Missile Systems group in Seattle, WA (32%). Work will be complete in October 2009 (FA8611-06-C-2899, PO 0005)
May 19/06: Engines. United Technologies Corp. in East Hartford, CT received a $5 million firm-fixed-price contract to cover advance procurement items for 40 Pratt & Whitney F119 engines. This work will be complete December 2006 (FA8611-06-C-2900).
May 15/06: PALS. A $62 million firm-fixed-price & cost-plus fixed-fee contract modification that increases the current undefinitized contract for Lot 6, F-22 aircraft performance based agile logistics support (PALS) activities. Specifically, this modification funds PALS 3010 activities through June 2006, plus authorized work to begin on 3600 funded support equipment development activities. Additionally, this modification increases the obligation amount for the Lot 6 PALS effort to 75% – $137.3 million has been obligated at this time. Work will be complete December 2006 (FA8611-05-C-2850, PO 0015).
May 3/05: 1 more. A $143.1 million firm-fixed price contract modification, which is an undefinitized contract action for F-22 Lot 6 replacement test aircraft. This work will be complete February 2010 (FA8611-05-C-2850, PO 0014).
April 24/06: Support. A $103 million firm-fixed price & cost-plus-fixed fee contract modification to increase fund production long lead diminished manufacturing sources activities and performance-based agile logistics support of 3400 funded activities through June 30/06. The location of performance is Lockheed Martin Corp., in Marietta, GA(33%), Fort Worth, TX (34%); and Boeing in Seattle, WA (33%). Work will be complete December 2006 (FA8611-05-C-2850, PO 0012)
March 13/06: Support. A $383.5 million modification to increase Lot 6 F-22 production long lead activities, (including target price curve and diminishing manufacturing sources); and long-lead performance-based agile logistics support activities; and the aircraft structural integrity program. Work will be complete December 2006 (FA8611-05-C-2850, PO 0009).
Feb 28/06: Support. United Technologies Corp. subsidiary Pratt and Whitney Aircraft Group in East Hartford, CT received a $153.5 modification that will support the F119 Engine’s Lot 6, Long Lead Items and Field Support and Training period of performance extension. Solicitations began July 2005, negotiations are expected to be complete May 2006, and work will be complete December 2006 (FA8611-05-C-2851).
Feb 15/06: PALS. A $144.3 million cost-plus fixed-fee contract modification. This undefinitized contract action provides for F-22A Lot 6 Weapon System Support as a Capability Performance-Based Agile Logistics Support (PALS). Negotiations were complete in January 2006, and work will be complete by May 2006 (FA8611-05-C-2850, PO 0010).
Jan 25/06: Support. United Technologies Corp. subsidiary Pratt and Whitney Aircraft Group in East Hartford, CT received a $56.7 million firm-fixed-price and cost-plus fixed-fee contract modification. This undefinitized contractual action will “support the F119 Engine Lot 6,” and work will be complete by March 2006. Hard to say if they’;re buying components, or help (FA8611-05-C-2851, PO 0003). Covered by DID.
Jan 11/06: PALS. A $191.1 million not-to-exceed firm-fixed-price contract modification. This action provides long lead activities and Performance Based Agile Logistics Support (PALS) for F-22 Lot 6 aircraft and associated equipment. Negotiations were completed in December 2005, and work will be complete in February 2006 (FA8611-05-C-2850, PO 0008). As one might guess from the dates, a large chunk of the work had been done already, which is why $95.4 million was already obligated.
Jan 11/06: Support. A $116.5 million firm-fixed-price fee contract modification provides for F-22 Lot 6 Program Support/ Annual Sustaining (PSAS) for period I, i.e. through June 2006. Negotiations were completed in December 2005 (F33657-97-C-0031, PO 0070). As a point of reference, the FY 2005 Lot 5 PSAS contract mentioned in DID’s November 17, 2005 article was a $160 million firm-fixed-price/ cost-plus fixed-fee contract modification that definitized FY 2005 production support/ annual sustainment associated with the F-22 Lot 5 batch.
Dec 23/05: long-lead buy. An $18 million, undefinitized, firm-fixed-price contract modification. It covers Long Lead Effort for Replacement Test Aircraft (RTA) for the F-22A program, and work will be complete by February 2006 (FA8611-05-C-2850).
Nov 10/05: Lot 6 lead-ins. A $39.9 million firm-fixed-price contract modification to support F/A-22 Lot 6 production. This action provides for advanced procurement for 24 Lot 6 aircraft and associated equipment. Work will be performed ar Lockheed Martin Corp. in Marietta, GA and Fort Worth, TX, and Boeing in Seattle, WA. At this time, the full amount has been obligated, and work will be complete November 2005. Negotiations were complete October 2005 (FA8611-05-C-2850/ P00006)
Nov 9/05: A $2.99 billion firm fixed price contract modification to definitize the F/A-22 Lot 5 production acquisition for 24 aircraft. The location of performance is Lockheed Martin Corporation, Marietta, GA. At this time, $1.98 billion has been obligated.
This work will be complete November 2007. Solicitations began July 2004 and negotiations were complete November 2005. The Headquarters Aeronautical Systems Center, Wright-Patterson AFB, OH issued the contract. (FA8611-04-C-2851). Note that this doesn’t represent the aircrafts’ full cost, just the parts that haven’t been covered by long-lead procurement, and by the separate buys of “government furnished equipment” like engines, etc.
Lot V: 24 more
Nov 9/05: Support. A $160 million firm-fixed-price/ cost-plus fixed-fee contract modification to definitize the undefinitized action for calendar year 2005 production support and annual sustainment activity. This effort supports the F/A-22 Lot 5 production aircraft. The location of performance is Lockheed Martin Corporation, Marietta, Ga. Solicitations began July 2004, negotiations were complete November 2005, and work will be complete by December 2005 (F33657-97-C-0031). Both November 9 awards were covered in this DID article, as was this engine-related award…
Nov 7/05: Support. United Technologies Corp. in East Hartford, CT received a $17.3 million firm-fixe-price and cost plus fixed fee contract modification to provide for contractual action for F119 engine, FY 2006-2007 to support the combined test force infrastructure at Edwards Air Force Base, CA. Solicitations began December 2003, negotiations were complete June 2005, and work will be complete December 2006 (FA8611-04-C-2852).
FY 2005 and Earlier (Incomplete)
Sept 30/05: Support. A $17.7 firm-fixed price contract modification to support the F/A-22 Lot 5 Support System. The location of performance is Lockheed Martin in Marietta, GA. Total funds have been obligated, and work will be complete by November 2007. Negotiations were complete October 2005 (FA8611-04-C-2851/ P00026)
Before this, the most significant contract is…
March 12/03: Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. in Fort Worth, TX received a $6 billion indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract modification to provide for development of system upgrades to existing requirements, incorporate new requirements, add capability and enhance performance in the F/A-22 Weapon System. Funds will be obligated as individual delivery orders are issued. The Air Force can issue delivery orders totaling up to the maximum amount indicated above, though actual requirements may necessitate less than this amount.
Locations of performance are: Lockheed Martin Corp. in Fort Worth, TX; Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems in Marietta, GA; and Boeing ISS Aircraft and Missile Systems in Seattle, WA. Solicitation began in March 2002, negotiations were complete in March 2003, and work will be complete by June 2013. The Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH (F33657-02-D-0009).
F-22 upgrade contract
Additional Readings & Sources
The F-22 & Key Components
- Air Force Technology – F-22A Raptor Advanced Tactical Fighter Aircraft, USA
- US Air Force Link – F-22A mini-site. Includes articles, photos, background information.
- Lockheed Martin Code One Magazine (April 1998) – F-22 Design Evolution. This wasn’t even the end of that evolution, merely the end of the first stage that eliminated General Dynamics’ F-23 design.
- Pratt & Whitney F119 vectored-thrust jet engine
- DID (Feb 7/06) – EDO’s AVEL Missile Ejection System: Extending the Raptor’s Claws. Covers the development of an important F-22 sub-system, which was a success by any project measure. Despite AVEL’s performance, Pierre Sprey et. al. make a plausible argument that the split-second nature of air combat may make even the seconds of opening and launch time created by the stealth-enhancing weapons bays a problem.
- DID (Dec 15/05) – Elec Tricks: Turning AESA Radars Into Broadband Comlinks. The F-22′s large AESA radar may have an important capability that it’s builders hadn’t suspected. If so, the Raptor’s ability to securely share information with other AESA-equipped planes like the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet, F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and some F-15s could rise by several orders of magnitude.
- DID (Oct 24/06) – Supersonic SIGINT: Will F-35, F-22 Also Play EW Role? The F-22′s abilities in this area had been kept under wraps, but it’s coming out as a result of budget lobbying. The F-22 may have electronic warfare capabilities out of the box that rival dedicated aircraft like the EA-6B Prowler, and eavesdropping and scaning capabilities that rival 707 airliner-based aircraft like the RC-135 Rivet Joint.
- Aviation Week (Oct 20/06) – F-22 Maintainers Focus More On Avionics, Less On Engines. Good history to date of F-22 maintenance benefits and issues.
- Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University (April 19/05) – The F-22 Raptor is said to be invisible…until it isn’t. Covers the CDI event that featured Pierre Sprey’s and Jim Stevenson’s presentations re: the F-22. The file sizes of their Power Point presentations precludes making them available via DID, unless their size can be reduced or they are hosted at CDI (which they presently are not). See also their accompanying F-22 fact sheet.
- Northrop-Grumman Analysis Center (April 2000) – Analogues of Stealth [PDF]. This paper briefly explores antisubmarine warfare, examines the development and fielding of low-observable “stealth” aircraft and emerging countermeasures, and suggests analogues between past experience with stealthy platforms and countermeasures in the sea and the future of stealthy platforms in the air.
- Australian Aviation, 1999 – Deedle, Deedle, Deedle, BANG! The Paradigm Shift in Air Superiority. Discusses the evolution of missiles, how this has affected aircraft design, and the significance of the F-22′s capabilities as the first air combat stealth fighter.
The F-22 Program
- DID Spotlight – F-22 Raptors to Japan? Maybe. the Japanese are lobbying, and some military personnel think it’s a good idea. Israel has also made formal requests for an F-22EX, and interest is being expressed in Australia and South Korea.
- DID Spotlight – The Australian Debate: Abandon F-35, Buy F-22s?. The opposition Labor party favored a request for F-22s over the previous government’s purchase of 24 F/A-18F Block II Super Hornets, and question the proposed timing and numbers for the proposed F-35 purchase. Now they’re the government, and the subject of buying F-22s is under formal review. DID compiles the various arguments and briefings over time, pro and con, from the politicians, DoD, civilian defense experts, the media, et. al.
- DID (Dec 6/05) – $96.7M for Theory of Constraints & 6-Sigma Support in US Naval Aviation. What is Theory of Constraints, and why is it so powerful? DID explains, and notes the method’s use as part of the F-22 Raptor program, via Critical Chain project management.
- DID (Oct 18/05) – RAND PAF: Lessons Learned from the F/A-22 and F/A-18 Super Hornet Programs.
- MIT Lean Aerospace Initiative (March 23/05) – “Cost Reduction Task Force Key to Raptor Affordability” [HTML Google cache | PDF format, 8.6 MB]
- Air University School Of Advanced Airpower Studies, Maxwell AFB (June 2000) – U.S. Military Aircraft For Sale: Crafting an F-22 Export Policy [PDF format]. Excellent discussion of the F-22′s capabilities, as well as potential export issues and the considerations that will influence US policymakers.
- Crosstalk Journal of Defense Software Engineering (May 2000) – F-22 Software Risk Reduction. The plane’s software is fundamentally based on the VAX system; the article explains why, and notes the modernization challenge ahead.
- US Government Accountability Office (May 2/12, #GAO-12-447) – F-22A Modernization Program Faces Cost, Technical, and Sustainment Risks.
- US Government Accountability Office (Dec 16/10, #GAO-11-171R) – Defense Management: DOD Needs to Monitor and Assess Corrective Actions Resulting from Its Corrosion Study of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. It’s actually about the F-22′s corrosion problems, for the most part.
- US Congressional Research Service (July 16/09) – Air Force F-22 Fighter Program: Background and Issues for Congress. Includes discussion of foreign sales, upgrade plans.
- * RAND Pacific View 2008 briefing – Full document. This analysis uses a hypothetical “F-22s over Taiwan” scenario and historical data to look at the core assumptions underlying the USA’s fighter doctrine of “stealth + beyond visual range engagement” as the keys to victory. It concluded that numbers still mattered, and that the “Lanchester Square” principle still applied. It is reported that one of its key analysts was fired in retaliation for its conclusions, once they became public.
- US Government Accountability Office releases (April 2/07, #GAO-07-415) – ‘Tactical Aircraft: DOD Needs a Joint and Integrated Investment Strategy’. Includes a number of details re: the F-22A program, including the issue of cracking near the tail.
- RAND Project Air Force (2005) – The Challenges of Developing New Weapon Systems: Lessons Learned from the F/A-22 and F/A-18E/F
- United States Government Accountability Office (March 3/05, #GAO-05-390T) – Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces, Committee on Armed Services, House of Representatives: Status of the F/A-22 and JSF Acquisition Programs and Implications for Tactical Aircraft Modernization. “Significant changes in the F/A-22 program have severely weakened its original business case…”
Controversies & Events
- Air Power Australia (Feb 15/10) – Assessing the Sukhoi PAK-FA. Russia’s 5th-generation plane. “While the failure to account for the imminent arrival of this design in United States TACAIR force structure planning qualifies the PAK-FA as a “known capability surprise”, the important advances in PAK-FA aerodynamic, kinematic and low observables design also qualify it as a “surprising capability surprise”.
- DID – Aging F-15s: Ripples Hitting the F-22, F-35 Programs. The unexpected, months-long grounding of the USA’s F-15 A-D Eagle fleet is triggering some rethinks, and has delayed the planned end of F-22 production.
- Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation (July 31/09) – What Happened to the F-22? “…successful defense programs require three pillars: “the service that wants and will advocate for the program, a contractor for whom the program is major business, and members of Congress”…”
- The Moderate Voice (Sept 26/09) – The Demise of the F-22 Raptor: The Story Behind the Story. Includes an excerpt from Fred Kaplan’s Sept 19/09 Newsweek article, as well as a number of other relevant links.
- Heritage Foundation (July 13/09) – Congress Should Support the Development of an Allied Variant of the F-22A
- Heritage Foundation (July 13/09) – U.S. Air Force Fifth-Generation Fighter: The F-22A Raptor Requirements Retreat
- Defense Review (May 29/09) – F-22 Raptor Program Cancellation: Will we learn from it? Can the USA re-learn how to field new aircraft designs in 5 years, from concept to combat?
- The Atlantic (March 2009) – Mark Bowden’s The Last Ace.
- Aviation Week (Feb 8/09) – F-22 Design Shows More Than Expected. Desired radar signature from certain critical angles is -40 dBsm., supercruise at Mach 1.78 rather than Mach 1.5, better acceleration, operation from about 65,000 feet using afterburner, 5% greater range from its APG-77 AESA radar.
- Air Force Association Magazine (January 2009) – The John Young View. Discusses the F-22 in particular, and other programs as well. Also relates to the Nov 20/08 DWG transcript.
- US DoD (Nov 26/08) – John Young DWG transcript: EPX, CSAR-X, F-22. John Young, the Pentagon’s undersecretary for acquisition technology and logistics, speaks to the Defense Writer’s Group. Full DWG Transcript [PDF] | Partial transcript at The DEW Line.
- Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Jan 27/08) – The F-22: expensive, irrelevant and counterproductive.” The Star-Telegram story appears to be incomplete, so here a similar op-ed from the trio on Defense Tech.
- Fort Worth Star-Telegram op/ed (Jan 27/08) – “F-22 is still what the U.S. needs.
- Lexington Institute (Oct 30/07) – Policymakers Suppress Expert Findings on Future Fighter. The think-tank charges that this is so because all 3 studies found a need for more than 183 F-22s.
- February 2007 Exercise Red (Colonial) Flag results (Feb 21/07) – USAF: Raptors wield ‘unfair’ advantage at Red Flag
- US AFA, Air Force Magazine (February 2007) – The Raptor in the Real World. Interesting results from Exercise Northern Edge.
- DID (Aug 21/06) – David Axe’s F-22 Series: Raptor, or Turkey? He talks to a number of people involved with the program during this 4-part series, while looking at the associated controversies involving the aircraft.
- DID (Aug 7/06) – GKN Buys Stellex to Position Itself in Titanium. The article explains titanium’s importance to new civil and military aircraft. Titanium prices are a major component of the F-22′s costs.
- USAF (Aug 4/06) – Tyndall spearheads F-22 fighter tactics integration. It’s a bit different when you fly a stealth fighter; the rest of the force has to work with you in ways that don’t blow your cover.
- The Virginian-Pilot (June 13/06) – Air Force jet funding on the line with Senate vote. Looks at the F-22′s funding profile, and also offers a god back-and-forth between the performance points made in Pierre Sprey & James Stevenson’s CDI briefing (see Apr 19/05 entry) and F-22A pilot Lt. Col. Wade Tolliver.
- June 2006 Exercise Northern Edge results – USAF: Exercise highlights Raptor synergy, joint capabilities | AFA Air Force Magazine: The Raptor in the Real World
- DID (Jan 12/06) – US Plans to Retire B-52s, C-21s, F-117 & U-2 for more F-22s.
- US Air War College, Maxwell AFB (June 2003, Paper #30) – The Air Superiority Fighter and Defense Transformation: Why DOD Requirements Demand the F/A-22 Raptor