About 150 men and 6 F-16 Viper fighter jets are going to be flying over the Polish territory for the next two weeks. The supporting C-17 transport planes and the ground crews have already arrived on Thursday, while the F-16′s are going to arrive in 32. AFB in Łask today (May 11, 2013).
As the Polish Air Force Commander, General Majewski, said, the planes from the Air National Guard 176th Tactical Fighter Squadron originating from Truax AFB in Wisconsin are going to train integration and interoperability with the Polish Jastrząb (Polish name for the F-16) planes. Additionaly the exercise will involve Su-22‘s from 21 AFB in Świdwin and MiG-29‘s from 23 AFB in Minsk Mazowiecki.
Image Credit: USAF
The aim of the exercise is to facilitate integration of pilots, ground and logistics crews. What’s more, the exercise also aims at improving the English linguistic proficiency of the Polish aviators.
On May 17, the American aviators are to be visited by the US Ambassador in Poland, Stephen Mull and by general Majewski.
Integration between PAF and USAF has already begun: a regular rotation of USAF detatchments in Poland has started this year (with Nellis AFB detatchment in Łask being the first one).
Although it is integrated in U.S. F-15C/D, F-16 Block 40 and 50 and F-18C/D/E/F, on the Eurofighter Typhoon and on several other modern planes (including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter – with some difficulties), a modern Helmet-mounted cueing system is a feature that the F-22 Raptor lacks.
There are various reasons why the pilots of the most advanced (and much troubled) air superiority fighter were not given a helmet that, by projecting aircraft’s airspeed, altitude, weapons status, aiming and symbology, provides the essential flight and weapon aiming information through line of sight imagery, enabling the aircrew to look out in any direction with all the required data always in their field of vision: (too much) confidence that capability was not needed since no opponents would get close enough to be engaged with an AIM-9X in a cone more than 80 degrees to either side of the nose of the aircraft; limited head space below the canopy; the use of missiles carried inside ventral bays whose sensor can’t provide aiming to the system until they are ejected.
And also various integration problems that brought the Air Force to cancel funding…
However, even the (almost) invincible F-22 eventually needed an advanced helmet that could make the HOBS (High Off Bore Sight) possible.
The Scorpion HMCS is a paddle shaped full colour display and will give the Raptor a high off-boresight (HOBS) capability ahead of the initial installation of the AIM-9X planned for 2015 with a full upgrade to the missile in the 2017 time frame, when the fighters increment 3.2B upgrade program comes into play.
Image credit: Gentex
Novotny went on to add: “If we can get that [HMCS] in the jet, then we can get them an off-boresight heat-seeking missile like the AIM-9X.We want to get this done because we’ll bring some great capability to the pilot, as all helmets do, and give them the off-boresight later.”
The addition of the HMCS and the AIM-9X on the F-22 shows that, in the foreseeable future, the Within Visual Range scenario can be more likely and worriesome for the best American fighter plane than some Raptor fans are willing to admit.
Information about these Government’s UFOs were available for several years but diagrams included in the most recently disclosed documents relighted general interest in such weird flying machines whose prototypes can be found on display at the National U.S. Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, and at U.S. Army Transportation Museum at Fort Eustis, Virginia.
The Avro Canada VZ-9AV Avrocar was a 5-foot tall and 18-foot wide flying saucer of the early ’50s when Canada was studying a way to develop a supersonic bomber capable of vertical take off and landing (VTOL). It was a Canadian project owned and controlled by Washington.
Although it was never implemented (because of its costs) the design concept of the prototype featuring exhaust from turbojet engines to drive a circular rotor to create a cushion of air under the aircraft, served as a testing and teaching tool.
According the Air Force the service was interested in the Avrocar for its VTOL capabilities: it could potentially hover below enemy radars and accelerate to supersonic speed to strike ground targets. The U.S. Army needed a durable and adaptable, all-terrain transport and reconnaissance aircraft to replace their light observation craft and helicopters.
Even if the circular design was believed to satisfy both service’s requirements, it was soon discovered that the flying saucer was unable to perform as predicted.
Here’s why the project was dropped:
Tests with scale models at Wright-Patterson AFB indicated the cushion of air under the Avrocar would become unstable when the aircraft passed roughly three feet off the ground. It was determined the aircraft was not incapable of reaching supersonic speeds, nor would the circular shape of the craft allow the Avrocar to have stealth capabilities. Although the aircraft did not meet the expectations of the Air Force, testing was continued to examine if a suitable model could be developed to fit the Army’s needs.
The first prototype was sent to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif. Wind-tunnel tests proved the aircraft had insufficient control for high speed flight and was aerodynamically unstable. Although engineers attempted to perfect the design, the project was marred with problems.
The second Avrocar prototype underwent flight tests. Project engineers discovered once the craft rose beyond three feet above the ground, it displayed uncontrollable pitch and roll motions. The lack of computer technology and design flaws required pilots to control each engine separately, making it very difficult even for two pilots to properly control.
In December 1961, project leaders discovered the Avrocar could not reach a maximum speed higher than 35 mph. This, along with the crafts other shortcomings, led them to cancel testing permanently.
Meant to operate at supersonic speed, the flying saucer could not fly as fast as a car.
Still, it’s considered a perfect concept, ahead of time. But the technology of that era wasn’t advanced enough for it.
The B-1B “Lancer”, known as “Bone” within the pilot community, is a multi-mission bomber, capable of carrying the largest payload of both guided and unguided weapons in the U.S. Air Force inventory.
It can accommodate up to 24 radar-evading AGM-158 Joint Air-Surface Stanfoff Missile (JASSM) in its bomb bays, twice as many as the B-52. . This GPS-guided cruise missiles with 2,250-lbs warhead, can be fired from more than 200 miles. However, the JASSM is about to be replaced, beginning next year, by a AGM-158B JASSM-ER (extended-range) that can reach a target 600 miles away.
Indeed, later this month, the 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron is scheduled to complete the final-phase of operational testing on the autonomous, air-to-ground, precision-guided standoff missile which shares the same stealthy characteristics of the baseline JASSM, but with an improved range.
The additional reach allows the B-1 (that are being upgraded too) to employ JASSM-ER missiles against fortified, fixed and relocateable high-valuable targets, while remaining well clear of long-range surface-to-air missiles guarding well defended airspace. As those of Syria, Iran, North Korea, China.
The new missile uses its inertial navigation and GPS (global positioning systems) to find its target, and an infrared seeker for pinpoint accuracy right before impact. Noteworthy, the weapon is reported to be extremely jamming resistant and able to operate in “contested and degraded environments”.
Although the final live flight test will be conducted on Aug. 30 with the B-1 (that is the premier aircraft to employ the new weapon), the JASSM-ER will be capable of employment on the B-2, B-52, F-15 and F-16.
Validation of the Bones capability to successfully perform long range strike missions using the AGM-158 JASSM was tested during Exercise “Chimichanga” in April, that included missions similar to one conducted in Libya in the early stages of Operation Odyssey Dawn.
First of all, the U.S. Air Force has finally narrowed down the root cause of the hypoxia like symptoms that have been plaguing the F-22 missions in the last couple of years.
“We have eliminated one of the hypotheses that the air force scientific advisory board postulated as a potential root cause for the hypoxia-related incidents and that was contamination. We have the data that has confirmed that” said USAF chief of staff Gen. Norton Schwartz in an article appeared on Flighglobal.
Indeed, USAF has collected data which suggests the problem is with the pilot’s life support system and specifically hardware defects associated with it. “Part of that is the upper pressure garment of the g-suit assembly [...] Part of that has to do with hose and valve and connection hardware in the cockpit.”
The modifications are going to be fully tested and should be starting to be installed next fall. In the meanwhile, the current restrictions to 40,000 feet, to fly within 30 minutes from an airport as well as some maneuvering limitations which are in force on the F-22 fleet will continue until the modifications are implemented on the aircrews equipment.
With the changes, SECDEF Leon E. Panetta gave the go ahead to the deployment of a squadron of F-22s to Kadena, in Japan, that will take place in the next coming days. Panetta has in fact approved the Air Force’s plan which foresees a gradual lifting of restriction which will allow the service to resume normal F-22 operations over time (including the air space patrol flights in Alaska, currently undertaken by other types of aircraft), ensuring the safety of the pilots.
The hop to Kadena, Okinawa, was allowed along a route over northern Pacific and by lifting the limitation about the distance from the nearest landing field (extended to 1.5 hrs). The aircraft will be accompanied by KC-135 tankers that will have to carry at least one F-22 pilot, whose task will be to give Raptor pilots advice should the need arise.
It’s not clear how the F-22 (more or less secretly) deployed to UAE last spring, considered the restrictions to fleet.
The oxygen deprivation problem isn’t the only problem that continues to affect the U.S. Air Force.
Something which has been going on as long but has received far less publicity is the series of issues experienced by the AMRAAM missile.
The problem with the AMRAAM, described by Strategy Page isn’t F-22 specific to be fair (although the AIM-120 is the Raptor’s main air-to-air missile), as it deals with the rocket motor that powers the missile in flight.
It has been found that if the missile experiences low temperatures (like those that can be found at high altitude) the motor becomes unreliable.
The USAF tests a few missile when ever it receives a new batch of missiles, it was during this test that the problem was found, as such there have been no deliveries for 2 years whilst the manufacturer looks into the cause.
Although the AMRAAM entered service some 20 years ago (1992) the missile has gone through some upgrades during that time and it’s likely that components in the rocket motor have been slightly changed. And the result is this problem.
The manufacturer continues to look into the problem whilst the USAF holds onto the funding to pay for these faulty missiles.