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28 décembre 2015 1 28 /12 /décembre /2015 12:55
Coalition Trifecta


An F-22 Raptor, Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4 and French air force Rafale fly in formation as part of a trilateral exercise held at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., Dec. 7, 2015. The exercise simulates a highly contested, degraded and operationally limited environment where U.S. and partner pilots and ground crews can test their readiness. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Kayla Newman)

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7 décembre 2015 1 07 /12 /décembre /2015 20:20
Rafale en vol

Rafale en vol

 

07/12/2015 Adj Jean-Laurent Nijean - Armée de l'air

 

Vendredi 4 décembre 2015, 6h15, base aérienne de Langley (Virginie, États-Unis). Malgré l’heure matinale, des pilotes américains, britanniques et français sont réunis pour un briefing avant les premiers vols de l’exercice TEI (Trilateral Exercise Initiative).

 

Après avoir rejoint leurs appareils respectifs, les pilotes entament tour à tour un ballet de décollage sans précédent, sous les yeux impressionnés de l’ensemble des mécaniciens et des participants à l’exercice, fiers d’assister à un tel rassemblement d’aéronefs de dernière génération.

 

Cet entraînement de très haut niveau mobilise les États-Unis, la France et le Royaume-Uni, qui y engagent certains de leurs appareils les plus performants. Pour l’occasion, près de 500 aviateurs des trois nations sont déployés.

 

La première journée était consacrée aux vols de familiarisation, permettant aux pilotes de reconnaître les procédures et les spécificités du terrain. Jusqu’au mardi 8 décembre, des missions simples, dites de type BFM (Basic Fighter Maneuver), sont au programme. Lors de celles-ci, les pilotes s’affrontent en duel, ou par patrouilles (deux contre deux), dans des combats rapprochés surnommés « Dogfights ». « Pour ce premier vol, mon équipier et moi, nous nous sommes entraînés contre deux Typhoon britanniques, explique le capitaine C. Notre playtime (autonomie d’action) nous a permis d’effectuer deux joutes. »

 

Patrouille F22 précédée d'un Rafale

Patrouille F22 précédée d'un Rafale

Cinq Rafale ont décollé en trois vagues successives pour rallier des F22 Raptor ou des Eurofighter Typhoon. Après la mission, les pilotes français étaient pleinement satisfaits de leur première expérience dans l’espace aérien américain. « C’est un bonheur de s’entraîner avec des pilotes d’un tel niveau et équipés, de surcroît, d’avions de chasse de dernière génération, ajoute le pilote de Rafale. Nous avons hâte que le niveau de difficulté monte d’un cran pour travailler à l’amélioration de l’interopérabilité entre nos trois nations et apprendre les uns des autres. »

 

L’objectif de TEI est, en effet, de maintenir et d’améliorer l’interopérabilité et la connaissance mutuelle entre trois armées de l’air qui partagent une longue histoire commune. Les États-Unis, le Royaume-Uni et la France ont également en commun un haut niveau de préparation opérationnelle sur un spectre très large de missions aériennes.

Départ pour un Rafale

Départ pour un Rafale

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14 octobre 2015 3 14 /10 /octobre /2015 11:20
F-15C Eagles from 493rd Fighter Squadron at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, soar through Turkish skies June 17, 2015, during Anatolian Eagle 2015 - photo USAF

F-15C Eagles from 493rd Fighter Squadron at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, soar through Turkish skies June 17, 2015, during Anatolian Eagle 2015 - photo USAF

 

October 11, 2015: Strategy Page

 

Sensing an opportunity the manufacturer of the 1970s era F-15 jet fighter are offering another upgrade, one what uses new missile racks and novel use of hard points usually reserved for extra fuel, to create an F-15 that can carry 16 long range (AMRAAM) air-to-air missiles rather than the usual eight. This enables an F-15 equipped with the latest radars and fire control systems to quickly attack enemy aircraft before those fighters are close enough to hit the F-15. The F-22 and F-35 were designed to excel at BVR (Beyond Visual Range) encounters where longer range AMRAAM missiles could take out enemy fighters up to 70 kilometers away. But there are too few F-22s and the F-35s are suffering an unending series of delays. Air forces with F-15s need some help in the BVR department and an F-15 with the right electronics and lots of BVR missiles seems a likely solution.

 

Since BVR capability arrived, as the next-big-thing in the 1960 pilots have not been enthusiastic about BVR engagements. The early missiles (like the AIM-7 Sparrow) were not all that reliable or accurate. Pilots were also not confident about firing on an aircraft they could not see (and positively identify as hostile). But after decades of trying, they finally have a winning combination with the AMRAAM and a new generation of radars and electronic gear. Combat training exercises between BVR aircraft and those relying on heat seeking missiles and cannon usually show the BVR birds winning. It has reached the point where many older fighters are being equipped with modern radars and BVR missiles and turned into formidable warplanes because of their BVR, not dog fighting, capabilities. 

 

For American F-15s there is the added bonus of working with one or more of the stealthy F-22s and relying the superior F-22 passive sensors acting as spotters for targets that the AMRAAM equipped F-15s can then fire on quickly and with enough missiles to knock down most of the enemy aircraft before they can fire back. The U.S. Air Force is upgrading 178 of its F-15s to the “Golden Eagle” standard (AESA radar and passive long range sensors) that makes these new tactics possible because these aircraft are equipped to communicate with F-22s using a new system that does risk detection by doing so.

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31 août 2015 1 31 /08 /août /2015 10:50
L’arrivée du F-22 Raptor en Europe change la donne dans la crise ukrainienne -  photo Spangdahlem Air Base

L’arrivée du F-22 Raptor en Europe change la donne dans la crise ukrainienne - photo Spangdahlem Air Base

 

30.08.2015 Aerobuzz.fr

 

Quatre chasseurs américains F-22 sont arrivés à Spangdhalem en Allemagne, le 28 août 2015. Washington qui n’est toujours pas satisfait de l’attitude de la Russie sur le dossier ukrainien augmente d’un cran son niveau de présence militaire en Europe avec le déploiement pour la première fois du très secret avion de combat F-22 Raptor.

 

Dans la partie de poker diplomatique qui se joue entre les pays occidentaux et la Russie sur le dossier ukrainien, Washington avait déjà au cours de l’année écoulée joué la carte aérienne en déployant en Allemagne un escadron de A-10, les fameux « tueur de chars ». Cette fois la pression exercée par le gouvernement américain monte encore d’un cran avec l’arrivée en Allemagne d’un détachement de quatre F-22 Raptor [1] appartenant au 95th Squadron de Tyndall (Floride). Les appareils se sont posés vendredi 28 août sur la base allemande de Spangdahlem. Un déploiement justifié ainsi outre Atlantique : «  l’activité militaire de la Russie en Ukraine est une source d’inquiétude pour nous et nos alliés européens  », explique Deborah James cadre dirigeant de l’US Air force avant d’ajouter : « Ce premier déploiement du F22 sera l’opportunité pour nos pilotes de s’entrainer avec nos partenaires de l’Otan en Europe tout en affirmant notre volonté d’assurer nos alliés de notre engagement total pour la sécurité et la stabilité en Europe  ».

 

Suite de l’article

photo USAF

photo USAF

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6 mars 2015 5 06 /03 /mars /2015 08:20
The Era Of Air Power

 

source Strategy Page

A P-38 Lightning, two F-86 Sabres and an F-22 Raptor fly in formation together during the 2015 Heritage Flight Training and Certification Course at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Feb. 28, 2015. During the course, aircrews practiced ground and flight training to enable civilian pilots of historic military aircraft and U.S. Air Force pilots of current fighter aircraft to fly safely in formations together. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Courtney Richardson)

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9 janvier 2015 5 09 /01 /janvier /2015 12:20
Boeing Delivers F-22 Training Center with Advanced Visual System

 

Jan 8, 2015 ASDNews Source : The Boeing Company

 

Boeing [NYSE: BA] has improved the realism of ground-based F-22 Raptor training by delivering the first simulators for that aircraft with an immersive, 360-degree visual environment.

 

Two simulators were installed, each paired with the Constant Resolution Visual System (CRVS), Boeing’s patented display that provides high-resolution imagery for pilots to train with nearly 20/20 acuity.

 

Read more

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5 octobre 2014 7 05 /10 /octobre /2014 07:30
Le (très cher) F-22 enfin déployé au combat

U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor flies over clouds during RED FLAG-Alaska 14-3 Aug. 20, 2014, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska

 

3 Octobre 2014 enderi.fr

 

Il fut un temps où les Etats-Unis refusaient même de le laisser se donner en spectacle, dans les grands meetings aériens internationaux. Mais cette époque semble révolue, et le plus cher des avions de combat, seul véritable chasseur de cinquième génération, participe désormais aux frappes aériennes en Syrie et en Irak. L’occasion de revenir sur le coût d’un programme, qui, sans atteindre les délires budgétaires du F-35, a donné bien des sueurs froides au budget de la Défense américaine.

 

Lire l’article

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3 septembre 2014 3 03 /09 /septembre /2014 11:35
A défaut de F-22, le Japon mise sur l’ATD-X Shinshin

 

2 septembre 2014 par Aerobuzz.fr

 

Frustré de ne pas avoir eu l’autorisation de la part de Washington d’acheter le F22 Raptor, le Japon qui doit se contenter de F35 JSF, veut s’affirmer en créant son propre avion de combat furtif, l’ATD-X de Mitsubishi. L’Empire du Soleil semble déterminé à relever un défi de taille malgré 70 années de sommeil technologique.

 

Shinshin ! Derrière ce nom signifiant « l’esprit du cœur » se cache en fait un démonstrateur d’avion de combat furtif « made in Japan ». L’appareil dessiné par Mitsubishi au début des années 2000 avec l’aide de l’agence de recherche japonaise TRDI est destiné à investiguer les technologies à mettre en œuvre par le Japon pour se doter d’un avion de combat furtif et moderne sans l’aide des occidentaux. Le démonstrateur ATD-X Shinshin, qui doit effectuer son premier vol début 2015 au plus tard, a fait l’objet d’importantes recherches en matière de matériaux, d’aérodynamique, d’électronique et de réduction de signature radar. Une partie des travaux sur la furtivité s’est déroulée en France en 2005.

 

Suite de l’article

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6 août 2014 3 06 /08 /août /2014 11:20
F-35(top) and F-22(bottom)

F-35(top) and F-22(bottom)

 

04 août 2014 Par Julien Bergounhoux - Usinenouvelle.com

 

Les progrès des technologies radars à basses fréquences risquent à court terme de fortement diminuer l'utilité des technologies de furtivité très coûteuses dont sont équipés les chasseurs de pointe des armées américaines.

 

Le développement de nouveaux radars par les armées russes et chinoises risque de remettre en cause la furtivité tant vantée (et particulièrement coûteuse) des F-22 Raptor et F-35 Lighting II américains. Ces deux chasseurs sont conçus de manière à être pratiquement invisibles aux radars de ciblage utilisant des hautes fréquences (sur les plages de fréquences Ku, X, C et partiellement S), mais ils ne sont pas optimisés pour échapper aux radars à basses fréquences (par exemple les longueurs d'ondes L, UHF ou VHF). [...]

 

Lire l'intégralité de l'article sur Industrie & Technologies

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12 avril 2014 6 12 /04 /avril /2014 11:20
USAF to complete upgrading the F-22 oxygen system in 12 months

The current backup oxygen system requires manual activation. ABOS will enable automatic activation, ensuring additional oxygen flow to the pilot in case the main supply is insufficient. Photo: US Air Force

 

Apr 11, 2014 defense-update.com

 

Following a lengthy investigation into the cause of numerous incidents causing F-22 Raptor pilots to suffer from hypoxia-like symptoms, the U.S. Air Force is upgrading the Raptor’s life support system, installing an Automatic Back-up Oxygen System (ABOS). Existing back-up oxygen systems were manually activating. The upgrade will be completed within a year. Raptors in Alaska have already begun using the system. The Air Force denied that the cause of a fatal accident in November 2010, killing Alaskan-based F-22 pilot Captain Jeff Haney was caused by Hypoxia.

 

The upgrade followed the recommendation of the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board to improve the Raptor’s aircrew life support system, including the installation of an automatically-activated backup oxygen system. The Air Force awarded more than $30 million in multiple contracts to Lockheed Martin to install the systems. According to Mike Connolly, ABOS Program Manager at the F-22 Life Cycle Management Center at Wright patterson, the ABOS is a simply designed system that is integrated into the breathing regulator. It has a control panel in the cockpit within the pilot’s reach so that he or she can manually turn it on if backup oxygen is needed. Unlike the current system that requires manual activation by the pilot, the ABOS is typically left in the auto position, which will automatically provide the pilot 100% oxygen in the event of a rapid decompression or low primary breathing air pressure. Automatic activation prevents the risk of oxygen cutoff when the pilot may be unconscious or blurred, as some of the pilots suffering from hypoxia reported.

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29 août 2013 4 29 /08 /août /2013 17:30
F-22 May Get Its First Combat Mission in Syria

August 29, 2013 by Brendan McGarry - defensetech.org

 

The U.S. Defense Department spent about $67 billion acquiring a fleet of almost 200 F-22 fighter jets, none of which has yet flown in combat.

 

That may change with a U.S.-led intervention in Syria, where the stealthy, highly maneuverable plane known as the Raptor may be used to penetrate and attack the country’s air defenses, among other targets.

 

“Syria is not Libya,” Mark Gunzinger, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a research organization in Washington, D.C., said in a telephone interview with Military​.com. “Their air defense systems are more formidable. Using F-22s to help suppress those threats and support penetrating capability may be a good idea.”

 

The White House is preparing to launch a military strike in the war-torn country after the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad allegedly used chemical weapons against civilians. The Aug. 21 attack around Damascus reportedly killed a few hundred people and may be the deadliest since Saddam Hussein’s forces killed thousands of Kurds with Sarin gas in 1988.

 

While President Barack Obama said he hasn’t made a decision on whether to conduct a strike, he said there must be consequences for governments that violate international norms against the use of chemical weapons.

 

“It’s important that if, in fact, we make a choice to have repercussions for the use of chemical weapons, then the Assad regime will have received a pretty strong signal that, in fact, it better not do it again,” he said in an interview yesterday on PBS’s “NewsHour” show.

 

When pressed on what a limited air campaign will achieve, Obama acknowledged that it won’t “solve all the problems inside Syria. It doesn’t obviously end the death of innocent civilians inside of Syria. We hope, ultimately, that a political transition can take place.”

 

More than 100,000 people have died in the two-year-old uprising against forces loyal to Assad, according to a June estimate from the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks the death toll through a network of activists in the country.

 

 

Details on what an operation might look like remain murky, though at the very least would probably involve launching a series of Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles, or TLAMs, from ships against such targets as command and control facilities, air defenses and aircraft, Gunzinger said.

 

The U.S. and Britain amassed a naval armada in the Mediterranean within striking distance of Syria. Four Norfolk, Va.-based destroyers — the USS Ramage, USS Mahan, USS Barry and USS Gravely — are already in position, ready to launch the Tomahawk cruise missiles.

 

At about $1.5 million apiece, the GPS-guided missiles are more expensive than conventional bombs. But they can be launched from a safe distance — at least several hundred miles — and are ideal for hitting so-called “light” targets in fixed locations above ground such as planes, runways, fuel depots, weapon storage areas and Russian-made SA-2 and SA-5 anti-aircraft batteries.

 

The mission may also involve dropping GPS– and laser-guided bombs from such aircraft as F-15 and F-22 fighter jets and B-2 and B-52 bombers, though the U.S. probably won’t target chemical weapons or stockpiles or other so-called “hard” targets, at least initially, because they’re more difficult to track, pose a threat to civilians and may be buried deep underground.

 

The F-22 for its air-to-ground mission can carry two 1,000-pound Joint Direct Attack Munitions, or JDAMs; two AIM-120C Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile, or AMRAAMs; and two AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, according to an Air Force fact sheet.

 

Operational F-22s are assigned to Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va.; Joint Base

Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska; Holloman Air Force Base, N.M.; and Joint Base

Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, according to a July report from the Congressional Research Service.

 

The F-22 fleet was grounded for several months in 2011 and aircraft were again restricted from flying in 2012 after pilots complained of oxygen-deprivation symptoms, including dizziness, disorientation and coughs. The Air Force, which initially struggled to identify the cause of the problem, concluded that a lack of oxygen — not the quality of it — was causing the symptoms, due primarily to a faulty valve on the pilots’ life-support vest.

 

The Air Force earlier this year lifted flying restrictions on many F-22 fighter jets after upgrading their oxygen system and life-support equipment,

The service fielded new vest pieces in January and expects to finish installing automatic back-up oxygen systems on the rest of aircraft in the fleet by July 2014.

 

The aircraft is made by Lockheed Martin Corp., based in Bethesda, Maryland, and its oxygen system is made by Honeywell International Inc., based in Morristown, New Jersey.

 

Some questioned the Pentagon’s decision to not fly the F-22 in the 2011 allied attack on Libya that toppled former strongman Muammar Gaddafi. Whether to use the aircraft in Syria will be driven by operational requirements, not politics, according to Gunzinger, the analyst.

 

“The decision will be based on military need,” he said, “not on bureaucratic politics.”

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11 juillet 2013 4 11 /07 /juillet /2013 07:20
US Air Force F-35A Lightning II aircraft fly in formation over Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., on May 14. photo Master Sgt. John R. Nimmo Sr.US Air Force

US Air Force F-35A Lightning II aircraft fly in formation over Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., on May 14. photo Master Sgt. John R. Nimmo Sr.US Air Force

July 10, 2013: Strategy Page

 

American fighter pilots (air force, navy and marine) are largely in agreement that, while the F-22 is a superior air-to-air fighter, the new F-35 is a better, if still flawed, all-round combat aircraft. A lot of this has to do with technology. The F-35 is a more recent aircraft, entering service a dozen years later than the F-22. Fighter pilots, who tend to be keen connoisseurs of aviation technology (many being university trained in aviation tech) note that the F-35 is actually using a new generation of tech as much of the F-22 stuff dates back to the 1980s and 1990s. This accounts for some of the tech updates the F-22 has received since it entered service in 2005. But the basic design and composition of the F-35 is a generation ahead of the F-22. As a result the F-35 is cheaper, more effective (in terms of tech), easier to maintain and designed as a fighter-bomber.

 

This last item is important for combat pilots, because they note there has been little air-to-air combat in the last few decades, but smart bombs (especially the GPS variety) have become cheaper, more effective and reliable and that has meant more calls for air support from ground troops. The F-22 is strictly air-to-air and despite heavily publicized efforts to give F-22s ground attack capability, the F-22 has not yet experienced combat. The smart bomb revolution also means that far fewer aircraft are needed and the air force can’t justify sending in the F-22 when there are so many available aircraft that can do the job a lot cheaper. So fighter pilots looking forward to a hot new ride tend to favor the F-35 rather than the F-22.

 

American fighter pilots do see downsides with the F-35. They believe the manufacturer and proponents promised too much and that the F-35 will never be able to deliver. There is a lot of doubt that stealth will work as promised and the shape restrictions on the F-35 (to make stealth possible) limit what the F-35 can do.

 

There are some attractive aspects of the F-35, especially because it comes in three distinct flavors. The vertical take-off F-35B is a 27 ton aircraft that can carry six tons of weapons and will enter service in two or three years. In vertical takeoff mode the F-35B has a range of 800 kilometers. The U.S. Air Force will get its 31 ton F-35A in 2016 or 2017. This is the cheapest version, costing about $154 million each. The U.S. Navy version (the F-35C) will arrive in late 2019 and cost about $200 million each (same as the F-35B). This version has a stronger landing gear to handle carrier landings and components that are more resistant to corrosion from constant exposure to salt water.

 

The F-35 has been delayed many times in the last decade and there is growing talk of cancellation. Orders have already been cut and the manufacturer is under a lot of pressure to get this new stealth aircraft into service. It’s still being debated how many F-35s will actually be produced. The U.S. Air Force assumes 3,162, but the Department of Defense is not so sure that many will eventually be built. Worst case, there will be more than ten times as many F-35s as F-22s. Most (about 60 percent) of the F-35s built will be used by foreign nations.

 

F22 raptor photo USAF

F22 raptor photo USAF

Last year the 187th, and last, F-22 fighter was completed. This last aircraft was sent to a squadron in Alaska which lost one in an accident two years ago. The manufacturer is not going to scrap or sell off the tools and equipment used to produce the F-22, but will store the stuff for a while in the hope that production may resume eventually.

 

That is unlikely as Congress passed a law forbidding the export of the F-22 fighter. Three nations (Australia, Japan, and Israel) sought to buy some. Efforts to change the law have failed. At one time there was a similar prohibition to the export of the F-16 and that law was changed. One reason for the law was the fear that F-22 technical and operational secrets would fall into the hands of a hostile power that would then build more than 200 of them.

 

The F-22 has performance that is far superior to that of any other aircraft in service, which is why several foreign air forces would like some. The combination of speed, advanced electronics, and stealth technology has created such a decisive advantage that F-22s are often matched up against as many as six F-15s to ensure their pilots face a challenge during training. So why is the F-35, with somewhat lower performance, getting all the export orders?

 

The first reason is price. The F-22 costs up to $200 million each (without even counting the huge R&D costs). The F-35 costs up to half as much (although that edge is eroding). This is one reason the U.S. is pushing exports of the F-35. This is why many more F-16s were exported, compared to the F-15. In any event, the F-35 will outclass a Rafale, F-15E, or Eurofighter, but not the F-22. The U.S. Air Force intended the F-22 to be part of a high-end/low-end mix with the F-35, much like the F-15 and F-16 were the combination in the 1990s, only the F-22/F-35 combination will be much harder to detect and defend against.

 

The U.S. Air Force saw export sales as a way to keep the F-22 production line active, giving it more time to persuade Congress to allow more to be built for the U.S. That did not work. Despite the high cost of the F-22, Russia is developing the similar T-50, and China the similar J-20. But neither of these aircraft is as capable, or as expensive, as the F-22. Neither of these aircraft is in service. The F-22 began development in the late 1980s, first flew in 1997, and entered service in 2005. The F-22 is expected to remain in service for at least 30 years. And for much of that time the F-22 will be the best, if also the least numerous, jet fighter on the planet. During that time many American fighter pilots believe the stealth advantage will be lost due to new technology. China, Russia and the Europeans will continue developing new combat aircraft designs and the appearance of unmanned fighters would change the situation most dramatically of all.

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27 mai 2013 1 27 /05 /mai /2013 18:20
Raptors Returning To The Nest

5/26/2013 Strategy Page

Three F-22 Raptors land May 17, 2013, at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. The Raptors were flown by Reserve pilots assigned to the 302nd Fighter Squadron during a recent 477th Fighter Group monthly training weekend. During the week, the 477th, AlaskaÂ’s only Reserve unit, integrates with the active-duty 3rd Wing here. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Dana Rosso)

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20 avril 2013 6 20 /04 /avril /2013 16:20
F-22s Make Precautionary Landings in Kadena

 

April 19, 2013 by Mike Hoffman - defensetech.org

 

Three F-22s deployed to Kadena Air Base in Japan made precautionary landings over the period of three days in April for various reasons. However, none of the pilots complained of breathing problems that previous pilots had experienced in the fifth generation fighters, Air Force officials said.

 

It’s unclear what caused these precautionary landings, but the result of them have not incurred “unique flight restrictions” for the 12 F-22As deployed to Kadena, said 2nd Lt. Hope Cornin, a spokeswoman for the 18th Wing.

 

Two F-22s made precautionary landings on April 1, while another F-22 made a precautionary landing on April 3, Cornin said. No injuries were reported in any of these incidents.

 

The F-22 remains under a microscope as the fifth generation fighter continues to operate without the flight restrictions the Air Force had placed on the fleet because of complaints from pilots about a lack of oxygen in flight. The service worked for more than two years to figure out the problem and then come up with a solution.

 

Air Force leaders believe they have solved it by replacing the breathing regulator/anti-g (BRAG) valve, installing a new back-up oxygen system and changing the oxygen schedule for the F-22’s onboard oxygen generation system (OBOGS).

 

Plenty remain skeptical, but there have been no reported incidents since the Air Force lifted the flight restrictions to protect pilots.

 

Cornin pointed out that the F-22s involved with the precautionary landings never lost their flight status because of the problems experienced by the pilots.

 

F-22s with the 1st Fighter Wing, JointBase Langley-Eustis, Va., and the 192nd Fighter Wing, Va. Air National Guard, deployed to Japan in January and are scheduled to return to the U.S. this Spring, Cornin said.

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14 décembre 2011 3 14 /12 /décembre /2011 12:35
U.S. Mothballs F-22 Production Gear for MRO

 

 

Dec 13, 2011 By Jim Wolfe/Reuters - AviationWeek.com

 

Washington - Even as the last F-22 fighter jet rolls out of flag-draped doors at a Lockheed Martin assembly plant today, the U.S. Air Force has taken steps that leave open an option to restart the premier plane’s production relatively cheaply.

 

The Air Force is preserving the hardware used to build the jet, not scrapping it, although it insists this is solely to sustain the fleet over its projected 30-plus years’ “lifecycle.”

 

The F-22 is “easily the most capable fighter aircraft ever built, period,” said Richard Aboulafia, a combat plane expert at the Teal Group aerospace consultancy.

 

“You don’t know what the economy and the strategic picture will look like in a decade,” he said. “And if one gets better and the other gets worse, you could see a restart.”

 

The last F-22 (Lockheed Martin tail number 4195) now moves into production flight check and will deliver to the Air Force in 2012. A ceremony today marked its emergence from the Marietta, Ga., plant, 14 years after the most advanced and most costly per-plane U.S. fighter began flight tests.

 

F-22 supporters maintain the program was terminated prematurely.

 

The fleet, as conceived during the Cold War, was to have been 750. That dropped to 381, then 243, before former Defense Secretary Robert Gates capped it at 187 in a belt-tightening move over program backers’ strong objections.

 

A total of more than 30,000 jigs, fixtures and other “tooling” used to build the plane are being logged into a database and tucked into containers, some custom built, for long-term storage at Sierra Army Depot, Herlong, California.

 

The hardware is valued at $2 billion to $3 billion, according to Lockheed, the Pentagon’s No. 1 supplier by sales.

 

The Sierra depot’s high desert climate, low humidity and mild temperatures, are optimal for systems that might be needed to build components to support the fleet, or perhaps one day resume production.

 

Arms production lines have shut in the past only to be brought back, including aircraft such as the submarine-hunting P-3, U-2 spy plane and B-1A bomber resurrected as the B-1B.

 

Lockheed is under Air Force contract also to preserve the shop-floor know-how used to manufacture the fighter. It is accomplishing this through a video library of “smart books,” DVDs designed to capture such things as how to hold a tool for best results.

 

The two-pronged preservation effort puts Lockheed in a “great position” to resume production if asked to do so, said Jeff Babione, the company’s F-22 program general manager.

 

But Lockheed, the Pentagon’s No. 1 supplier, has not been given any reason to think that such a request will come, he added in a telephone interview Dec. 9.

 

Bringing back the F-22 line would take less than $200 million, “a fraction of the costs seen in previous line restarts of other weapons systems,” Alison Orne, a Lockheed spokeswoman, said by email, citing preliminary analysis.

 

The Air Force said government-owned F-22 production is being stored “for the sole purpose of sustaining the F-22 fleet” over its lifetime.

 

“No F-22 parts, tooling or related items are being stored for the purpose of preserving the option of restarting F-22 production,” Jennifer Cassidy, an Air Force spokeswoman, said in an email.

 

She said the Air Force had commissioned a RAND analysis to assess tooling preservation options at congressional direction. The study concluded that saving the hardware “may significantly ease the execution of future F-22 sustainment needs, and the storage of that tooling can be provided at relatively low cost.”

 

CUTTING EDGE

 

The radar-evading F-22 “Raptor” entered service in 2005, designed to own the skies on the first day of a conflict because of its low observability, high maneuverability plus sensor advances that make it the top gun for air-to-air combat.

 

Its cutting-edge capabilities, including agility, engine thrust and flight controls, “cannot be matched by any known or projected fighter aircraft,” according to a U.S. Air Force fact sheet on the plane, which has not yet been used in combat.

 

The F-22 represents the high end of a tactical fighter mix that advocates say is critical to defend worldwide U.S. interests over coming decades alongside the F-35, a less capable, less costly, Lockheed stealth fighter now in early production.

 

The Pentagon currently plans to buy more than 2,440 F-35s for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps at $382.5 billion through 2035, its costliest purchase ever.

 

The current “program acquisition unit” cost of the F-35A model for the Air Force is $111 million, including “mission systems” and sustainment.

 

By contrast, the last production lot of four F-22s cost $153 million each, according to Lockheed, not including amortized research, development and maintenance that experts say would add more than $200 million apiece.

 

RESTART BUTTON?

 

Advocates of a larger F-22 fleet have cited emerging Russian and Chinese stealth fighters as well as the spread of sophisticated surface-to-air missiles that can home in all but the hardest-to-detect fighters.

 

The F-22 was barred from export sales to protect its high-tech secrets.

 

Michael Wynne, who was forced out as Air Force secretary in 2008 after disagreeing with Gates over the production cap, said by email that Japan and Australia would “immediately partner” to restart the line if Congress lifted the F-22 export ban.

 

Operational F-22s are based at Langley AFB, Va.; Elmendorf AFB, Alaska; Holloman AFB, N.M .; and Hickam AFB, Hawaii. Air Force F-22 units have deployed to Kadena Air Base, Japan, and Andersen AFB, Guam, and they have conducted joint and coalition training both stateside and overseas, including the United Arab Emirates.

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12 septembre 2011 1 12 /09 /septembre /2011 07:00

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09.09.2011 DEFENSETECH

 

Being part of Military​.com, it wouldn’t be right if we here at DT didn’t do something to recognize the ten-year anniversary of 9/11. We figured we’d list off some of the most significant advances in weaponry that have occurred over the last decade — some driven by the wars spawned by that day, some independent of them. We gradually saw a shift away from extremely high-end weaponry designed to defeat major armies in favor of tech that could be fielded quickly and rapidly adapt to the needs of “low intensity” warfare. Case in point; the F-22 Raptor buys being cut while buys of relatively low-tech drones and propeller-driven ISR planes were dramatically increased . However, now that those wars are winding down, we may see a return to high-end tech at the cost of low-end tech.

 

You’ll find our list below, set up in no particular order. We’ve kept it to major weapons systems that have become operational in the last decade. Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments.

 

 

 

The rise of unmanned vehicles: Yes, UAVs existed before 9/11 but the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan saw them pressed into mass production as full-on spy planes and attack aircraft that are in the process of replacing manned aircraft. When the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in November, 2001, the Pentagon had less than 100 of the early model MQ-1 Predators and it had yet to master the art of using them in combat. By early February 2002, Predators armed with Hellfire missiles were killing al Qaeda operatives, the beginning of the controversial drone bombing campaign that garners so much attention today. Soon after, the Pentagon would unleash the Predator’s bigger brother, the MQ-9 Reaper and field the RQ-4 Global Hawk — though, the Global Hawk still hasn’t replaced the U-2 Dragon Lady as Air Force planners had hoped would have happened by now. Don’t forget the dozens of micro-UAVs operated by small units of troops on the ground giving them unprecedented situational awareness. Hundreds of UAVs of all sizes have now joined the fights in the Middle East and are seen as one of the most important weapons in the U.S. arsenal. A few years ago, the demand for UAVs in Iraq and Afghanistan became so high that the Air Force began pulling pilots from fighter planes to fly UAVs. As the second decade of the 21st Century begins, we’re seeing the development and fielding of stealthy, jet-powered drones like the Navy’s X-47B  and UCLASS planes that are designed to perform high-end strike and reconnaissance missions that were always the domain of the manned-aircraft. Keep in mind that the robot planes have been joined by thousands of ground robots that are doing everything from explosive ordnance disposal to scouting for bad guys. Just recently, the Army announced that it is sending robotic jeeps to Afghanistan to haul soldiers gear on patrols.

 

 

 

Advances in electronic warfare: As U.S. troops began to fall victim to Improvised Explosive Devices in Iraq, the Pentagon scrambled to find ways to defeat the insurgents weapon of choice. While up-armored Humvees and eventually MRAPS were fielded in the fight against IEDs military officials began applying electronic warfare in ways they had never planned. Hundreds of millions were spent developing a range of vehicle-mounted and handheld IED jammers (some worked others were notoriously bad) that were carried on the deadly Middle Eastern roads. Navy EW personnel were put in land billets to share their expertise with troops on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even the Air Force’s big spy planes were brought into the effort. The RC-135 Rivet Joints helped intercept insurgent communications. The E-8 Joint STARS used their powerful ground-scanning radars, originally designed to spot Soviet tank columns, to find disturbances in the earth where insurgents had buried bombs. Even the EC-130 Compass Call was pressed into service using its electronic attack gear to prematurely detonate IEDs. All sorts of new EW technology has been developed with the aim of identifying enemy signals,  hacking insurgent communications and disrupting electronic IED detonation tech. This surge of EW gear and a steep learning curve led to the Pentagon eventually dominating the electronic landscape of Iraq — eventually, special operators, the CIA and the NSA were able to listen to all communications in the country as they systematically dismantled bomb making networks and insurgent groups. Not surprisingly, the success of EW in targeting insurgents and defeating IEDs in Iraq has led to Afghan insurgents moving toward more low tech bombmaking techniques.  Still, you can bet the advances made in EW over the last decade (many of which are classified) will no doubt continue to influence the ways wars are fought. Don’t forget that work on high-end jammers, like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s Next Generation Jammer built for the 21st century also continues.

 

 

The MRAP: As we mentioned earlier, the fight against IEDs led to the fielding of an entirely new class of ground vehicle for the U.S. military when the thin-skinned yet highly-mobile Humvees proved far too vulnerable to explolsives to use on patrol. A vehicle was desperately needed that could carry infantry troops yet provide them levels of protection normally afforded by heavy armored vehicles like tanks. Enter the MRAP. As you know, they’re big trucksvcentered around blast deflecting hulls and lots of armor. Now, we’re  seeing the design scaled down to accommodate the terrain in Afghanistan that limits the use of big trucks.  We’ll see how many of them the military hangs on to after the Iraq and Afghan conflicts end — though, many of the lessons learned from fielding MRAPs are being incorporated into the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, one of the trucks that will replace the Humvee.

 

 

Cyber warfare: We write about it all the time here at DT. It’s gone from something no one talked about to becoming a universally fretted about topic. We see new reports of cyber espionage, hacking and full on attacks every week. The Stuxnet virus unleashed against the Iranian nuclear program is a great example of a full on cyber attack that had physical results. With technology so widely available, many worry that almost any rouge group or a nation state will be able to cripple a nation’s critical infrastructure. Before 9/11, heck before 2006–7 it was hard to get senior leaders at the Pentagon to take the cyber threat seriously. However, in the last few years, we’ve seen all four services establish cyber fighting arms and watched as the Pentagon stood up U.S. Cyber Command.

 

 

Fifth generation fighters: On 9/11 the USAF’s most potent fighter was arguably the F-15 Eagle. In 2005, the F-22 Raptor became operational ushering in a new era in manned aerial combat. Many believe it’s hands-down the best fighter ever built. However, with the last decade’s focus on irregular warfare, the Raptor came under fire as a jet that was built to meet threats that never materialized and former Defense Secretary Robert Gates cut the Raptor buy to 187 jets. Adding insult to injury, the plane has yet to see combat and has been grounded for months now due to problems with toxins seeping into its oxygen system. Still, opened the door for the development of not only the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter but fifth gen planes around the world like Sukhoi’s T-50 PAK FA and China’s J-20. It remains to be seen how all of these planes with their stealth designs, high-speeds and maneuverability and most importantly their advanced sensors and EW gear will change air warfare around the globe.

 

 

Tiltrotor tech: Like the Raptor, the V-22 Osprey wasn’t out of testing on 9/11.  However, by the end of the decade, the Osprey has become an integral part of the U.S.’ vertical lift fleet after decades of development troubles that garnered it a ton of critics. The revolutionary birds can fly at near-C-130-speeds to targets far beyond the range of most helicopters and then swoop in for a vertical landing. This has opened up a range of options to mission planners that were never before available. Since their first combat deployments in 2008, Marine Corps MV-22s and Air Force CV-22s have been used to do everything from CSAR missions in Libya to special operations raids in Afghanistan, carrying bin Laden’s body to the U.S.S. Carl Vinson and even ferrying the Secretary of Defense around the ‘States. And yes, they’ve seen real combat. Still, the Ospreys have experienced teething problems, particularly with dust and sand seeping into their massive engines, leading to higher than normal maintenance rates.

 

 

The Littoral Combat Ship: Yup, these little ships have finally come on line and the Navy is going to buy both classes of LCS for a minimum of 22 ships. We’ll see how the prove themselves since they have yet to  recieve their full weapons suites or work out all the problems with their plug-in mission modules. Oh, and they’ve had some issues with corrosion. Still, Navy officials have high hopes for the controversial vessels which they see as extremely flexible platforms for fighting close to shore.

 

 

Soldier tech: From more advanced body armor and flame resistant uniforms and sweet mountain boots (for troops in Afghanistan) to better radios and the XM-25 counter-defilade grenade launcher, ground troops have received numerous and often life-saving advances in their individual gear over the last decade. For more on how the grunt’s gear has evolved since 9/11 check out this piece at sister site, Kit Up!

 

We could go on about everything from the Small Diameter Bomb and the M982 Excalibur guided artillery round to new blue force tracking tools and data sharing devices (we should also mention the Army’s Stryker armored vehicle that came online very soon after 9/11), and we’re sure you can too, so please do in the comments.

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