The F-22 Raptor: Key Capabilities & Planned Upgrades
“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.”
“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.
Raptor, Redux: Upgrading the Fleet
The F-22 Raptor: Criticisms & Controversies
“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.”
F-22 Raptor: Program
Flyaway Costs & Budgets
“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.” “
F-22 Raptor: Key Events
Events: CY 2012
Events: CY 2011
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
Events: CY 2010
“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.”
“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.”
“ASC/XRX is conducting market research analyses to examine applicable materiel concepts and related technology for a Next Gen TACAIR capability with an IOC 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.
“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.”
“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….”
“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.”
“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.”
Events: CY 2009
“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.
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
Events: CY 2008
“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.
“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.”
“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.”
“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.
“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….”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.
F-22 Raptor: Contracts & Production
Contracts: FY 2012
“The 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.”
Contracts: FY 2011
Contracts: FY 2010
“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.
Contracts: FY 2009
Contracts: FY 2008
Contracts: FY 2007
Contracts: FY 2006
“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).