Tag Archives: Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor

Take a look at the hovering F-35B through a high definition thermal imager

A FLIR 380-HDc thermal imager has captured this cool footage of the F-35B during the display at the Farnborough International Air Show.

Last month we published a screenshot taken by an IR camera of a crime fighting helicopter that filmed an F-22 Raptor on the ground at RAF Fairford where the radar-evading 5th generation aircraft had deployed to take part in the Royal International Air Tattoo airshow.

The footage in this post shows the heat signature of another stealthy (and quite controversial) aircraft, the Lockheed Martin F-35B, the STOVL (Short Take Off Vertical Landing) of the Joint Strike Fighter.

Pretty cool, isn’t it?

The video was filmed by Star SAFIRE 380-HDc a compact, high performance, stabilized, HD imaging systems specifically engineered for helicopter.

According to FLIR, the manufacturer of the Star SAFIRE 380-HDc and a leader in such systems, the camera “provides an unmatched SWaP-C advantage for airborne applications that demand high performance ISR [Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance] in a light-weight, compact package. Specifically tailored to excel at long range performance under extreme rotary aircraft conditions.”

Needless to say, the IR signature of the F-35B during hovering is impressive.

The heat signature of a LO (Low Observability) aircraft is also what IRST (Infra Red Search and Track) sensors of a “legacy” unstealthy aircraft will seek during an aerial engagement against a stealth plane.

Image credit: screenshot from FLIR footage

H/T Foxtrot Alpha

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F-22 Raptor grounded by swarm of almost 20,000 bees

A swarm of honey bees found hanging from the exhaust nozzle of an F-22 Raptor stealth jet’s engine.

On Jun. 11, 192nd Fighter Wing Aircraft Maintainers found something weird during post-flight operations checks at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia: a swarm of honey bees hanging from the exhaust nozzle of an F-22 Raptor engine.

192nd Fighter Wing Aircraft Maintainers found a swarm of honey bees hanging from the exhaust nozzle of an F-22 Raptor engine on June 11, 2016 at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia. A local honey bee keeper was called to remove and relocate the bees to a safe place for them to build their hive. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

192nd Fighter Wing Aircraft Maintainers found a swarm of honey bees hanging from the exhaust nozzle of an F-22 Raptor engine on June 11, 2016 at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia. A local honey bee keeper was called to remove and relocate the bees to a safe place for them to build their hive. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

“A cloud of thousands of bees” according to the 192nd Maintenance Squadron crew chief who was there.

Maintainers notified Capt. Katie Chiarantona, 192nd Aircraft Maintenance Officer about the honey bee swarm explains a USAF news release.

Since this had never happened on the flight line before, Chiarantona initially called the on-base entomologist to assess the situation. The entomologist immediately knew that he did not have the means to relocate the bees, so he referred Chiarantona to a local honey bee keeper in Hampton, Virginia.

Andy Westrich, U.S. Navy retired and local bee keeper, arrived on base with the needed materials and supplies. According to Chiarantona, Westrich said the swarm was one of the largest he had ever seen. He was escorted to the aircraft and used vacuum hoses to safely corral the honey bees off of the aircraft into large buckets. He then took the bee’s home and found that, as a hive, they weighed eight pounds which calculates to almost 20,000 bees!

“The honey bees most likely came from a much larger bee hive somewhere else on base,” said Chief Master Sergeant Gregg Allen, 192nd Maintenance Group Quality Assurance chief, who also happens to be a bee keeper. “Bee hives are constantly growing and they eventually become overcrowded. Around springtime, the bees will make a new queen, scout for a new location and take half of the hive with them to that location.”

Westrich suspected that the swarm of bees were on their way to a new location to build a hive for their queen. Queen bees typically fly with eggs to lay at the new hive and do not eat for up to 10 days before leaving to start a new colony. As a result, the queen is often malnourished for the journey. Westrich believes she landed on the F-22 to rest. Honey bees do not leave the queen, so they swarmed around the F-22 and eventually landed there.

According to Chiarantona “[Westrich] said that one out of two things could have happened, the queen would have rested and gained energy and the swarm would’ve left in the morning, or they would have decided that the jet engine would be a great place to build a hive.”

Westrich was able to safely relocate the colony to a local beer producer where they will maintain the honey bee colony and use the honey for their production facility.
“Every bee is important to our food source; lots of things would die without bees,” said Baskin. “Most of our crops depend on bees, and our bees need to pollinate. This is why I knew we needed to save them instead of [exterminate] them.”

192nd Fighter Wing Aircraft Maintainers found a swarm of honey bees hanging from the exhaust nozzle of an F-22 Raptor engine on June 11, 2016 at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia. Andy Westrich, U.S. Navy retired and local honey bee keeper, was called to remove and relocate the bees to a safe place for them to build their hive. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

192nd Fighter Wing Aircraft Maintainers found a swarm of honey bees hanging from the exhaust nozzle of an F-22 Raptor engine on June 11, 2016 at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia. Andy Westrich, U.S. Navy retired and local honey bee keeper, was called to remove and relocate the bees to a safe place for them to build their hive. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

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The most up-to-date F-22 Raptor jets are currently fighting Daesh

The Raptors of the latest Block can drop GBU-39 small diameter bombs on ISIS targets.

The Raptors deployed to Al Dhafra airbase, UAE, are the most up-to-date F-22As flown by the U.S. Air Force.

Assigned to the 90th Fighter Squadron from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, the modernized Raptors made their debut in Operation Inherent Resolve, the air war on the Islamic State, in April, bringing expanded capabilities in the fight against Daesh.

“What our squadron is bringing to the fight now versus some of the previous squadrons, is we have the most up to date software and hardware loads that an F-22 can carry,” said Lt. Col. David, 90th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron commander in a recent Air Force release. “There is a huge advancement in the capabilities of the avionics, the radar system, the sensors and certain electronic features on board the aircraft.”

Although they are rarely requested to attack ground targets, the Alaskan Raptors can now drop 8 GBU-39 small diameter bombs while previously they were limited to carry two 1,000-lb GBU-32 JDAMs (Joint Direct Attack Munitions) in the internal weapon bay: with the latest upgrade they can be tasked for missions which require greater precision.

An initial air-to-surface capability, including that of dropping the GBU-39 (a 250-lb multipurpose, insensitive, penetrating, blast-fragmentation warhead for stationary targets equipped with deployable wings for extended standoff range, whose integration testing started in 2007) had been introduced with the software increment 3.1 back in 2012.

Even though the odds of using an advanced air-to-air missiles over Syria are pretty low, another important addition to the F-22’s payload is the latest generation AIM-9X (already integrated in most of US combat planes since 2003): on Mar. 1, 2016 the 90th Fighter Squadron (FS) officially became the first combat-operational Raptor unit to equip an F-22 with the AIM-9X Sidewinder.

Noteworthy, the AIM-9X will not be coupled to a Helmet Mounted Display (HMD) as the F-22 is not equipped with such kind of helmet that provides the essential flight and weapon aiming information through line of sight imagery (the project to implement it was axed following 2013 budget cuts) but the Raptor will probably benefit of the AIM-9X Block II, that is expected to feature a Lock-on After Launch capability with a datalink, for Helmetless High Off-Boresight (HHOBS): the air-to-air missile will be launched first and then directed to its target afterwards even though it is behind the launching aircraft.

Interestingly, along with the ability to carry “new” weapons, the aircraft were also given a radar upgrade that enhanced the F-22 capabilities in the realm of air interdiction and the so-called “kinetic situational awareness”: as we have often explained in previous articles, the role that the Raptor plays in the campaign is to use advanced onboard sensors, such as the AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar, to gather valuable details about the enemy targets, then share the “picture” with attack planes as the F-15E Strike Eagles.

 

Cool pictures of an F-22 Raptor during Deliberate Strike Night

F-22 during Deliberate Strike Night: testing stealth abilities to conduct attacks during the hours after the sun sets.

These cool photographs were taken by a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 509th Weapons Squadron, Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, as it performed aerial refueling on an F-22 Raptor stealth jet assigned to the 433rd Weapons Squadron, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.

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The 5th generation multi-role radar-evading plane was involved in the United States Air Force Weapons School’s Deliberate Strike Night over the Nevada Test and Training Range on Jun. 16, 2016.

Deliberate Strike Night is part of the final seven-day Advanced Integration portion of the Weapons School curriculum.

F-22 night aar deliberate strike 2

Image credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kevin Tanenbaum

 

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F-22 Raptor stealth fighter sports low-visibility bomb markings

For the first time bomb markings appear on the F-22s that took part in the air campaign against Daesh.

Everything is stealth in the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor, even the bomb signs….

This is what the top image, taken by The Aviationist’s contributor Alessandro Fucito at RAF Lakenheath at the beginning of May, seems to suggest. Indeed, the photograph shows one of the 12x F-22s belonging to the 95th FS from Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, deployed to the UK until May 8,  with 15 barely visible bomb markings (and another square sign – even though the latter may be some sort of patch on the Radar Absorbing Material coating).

F-22 bomb marks

The bomb silhouettes (on the airframe serialled AF05-086) represent GBU-32 1,000-lb JDAMs (Joint Direct Attack Munitions), one of the two types of bombs the 5th generation aircraft is able to carry: indeed, for air-to-surface missions, the multirole stealth jet can carry either 2x GBU-32s or 8x GBU-39 small diameter bombs in the internal weapons bay.

Bomb and kill markings are very well-known tradition in military aviation. In Syria, Russian Su-34s  sported red star silhouettes to mark 10 air strikes, whilst EA-18G Growlers of VAQ-137 aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt got unique kill markings, showing Electronic Attack support as well as cellular jamming missions.

The Tyndall’s Raptor depicted in the photo has most probably been given the traditional bomb markings after taking part in the air war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria during a rotation last year.

The F-22s have had their baptism of fire during Operation Inherent Resolve in September 2014.

Since the beginning of the air campaign, the F-22 have accounted for only 2% of the sorties and 2% of the overall weapons released (that is why it is safe to assume every silhouette represents one JDAM): their role is indeed to use the advanced onboard sensors, as the AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar, to gather valuable details about the enemy targets and then  share the “picture” with attack planes, command and control assets, as well as Airborne Early Warning aircraft.

This mission has been given a fancy name: “kinetic situational awareness.”

Although its production was cancelled in 2009 with the production line closed in 2012, after 187 F-22s had been procured, the House Armed Services Committee has asked the Air Force to produce a study on what it would take to restart building the Raptor in order to keep up with the enemies until the next generation fighter arrives, something heavily debated recently, and opposed by the Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter.

Image credit: The Aviationist / Alessandro Fucito