Tag Archives: Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor

Six F-22 Raptor jets Have Deployed To RAF Lakenheath, UK

Six U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors have deployed to Europe as part of the European Deterrence Initiative.

Six U.S. Air Force Raptor jets, belonging to the 27th Fighter Squadron and 94th Fighter Squadron, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, have deployed to RAF Lakenheath, UK, on Oct. 8, using radio callsign Trend 11-16.

At the time of writing it’s still unclear whether 6 additional F-22s, expected in the next few days as they return stateside from their deployment to the Middle East to support Operation Inherent Resolve, will remain in the UK along with the other jets (their callsign will be Trend 21-26).

The stealth multirole aircraft that will remain in the UK will be involved in a FTD (Flying Training Deployment) to conduct flying activity with other U.S. aircraft based in Europe as well as regional NATO allies.

According to the official USAF release “while in the European theater, the F-22s will also forward deploy from the U.K. to other NATO bases to maximize training opportunities, demonstrate our steadfast commitment to NATO Allies and deter any actions that destabilize regional security. This FTD is fully funded by the European Deterrence Initiative (EDI).”

One of the Raptors that have deployed to the UK on Oct. 8, 2017. (Image credit: U.S. Air Force).

The last time U.S. F-22s deployed to Europe was in Spring 2016, when the 95th FS completed a historic deployment to RAF Lakenheath with 12 stealth jets in what was at the time the largest Raptor deployment in Europe.

During the deployment, part of their Global Response Force training, the F-22s performed several training sorties (usually two waves were launched each day, one at around 08.00AM, the second in the early afternoon): the Raptors took part in exercise Iron Hand 16-3, conducted air training with all three RAF Lakenheath fighter squadrons and RAF Typhoons.

The F-22 also had the chance to pay visit to some NATO countries: Romania, Lithuania and also performed a flyover for the 100th anniversary of the Lafayette Escadrille in Paris. Last but not least, the F-22s had a chance to practice low-level flying in the famous Mach Loop.

The F-22s landing at RAF Lakenheath on Oct. 8, 2017. (Image credit: U.S. Air Force)

 

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New Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works Video Teases The Shape Of The Next-Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) Fighter

A new video provides a glimpse of the 6th Gen. fighter concept that could replace the F-22. But it’s probably not the real one…

A short clip just released by the Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works (H/T to Flightglobal’s Editor Stephen Trimble for the heads-up) teases the shape of the concept-fighter it is developing to compete for the U.S. Air Force Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD), the program will ultimately lead to an air superiority 6th Gen. jet that could replace the F-22 Raptor.

The Next Generation Air Dominance concept points towards a small and much agile manned plane, rumored to be supersonic, long-range, cyber-resilient against threats of the future interconnected world, with morphing metals, self-healing capabilities and ability to carry laser-weapons.

The shape seems to be the very same that Lockheed Martin published in a 2012 calendar distributed to journalists: with an F-22-like nose, flat canted tails and contoured wing, the aircraft strongly reminds the Northrop/McDonnell Douglas YF-23, a single-seat, twin-engine stealth fighter aircraft technology demonstrator designed for the United States Air Force’s Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) competition.

Two YF-23 prototypes were built with the nicknames “Black Widow II” and “Gray Ghost” between 19 but the contract was eventually won by Lockheed with the YF-22 Lightning and the YF-23 program was canceled.

Interestingly, the conceptual sixth-generation fighter being developed by Northrop Grumman today does not seem to be inspired to the YF-23 at all: based on some renderings exposed so far, the aerospace giant is working on a new tailless concept that features the “cranked kite” design that’s in vogue with Northrop Grumman (that built the U.S. Air Force iconic B-2 stealth bombers the X-47B naval killer-drone demonstrator and the still much secret RQ-180 unmanned aerial vehicle surveillance aircraft.)

Northrop Grumman 6th Gen. fighter as shown in a commercial released last year.

The proposed timetables see a sixth-generation fighter being completed some time in the 2030s.

Actually, as reported by Aviation Week’s Guy Norris earlier this summer, Lockheed Martin has recently revealed a radically revised version of the concept so the one included in the above Skunk Works 75th anniversary video is probably only the original concept.

Updated Next-Generation Air Dominance fighter concept released in 2017. (Lockheed Martin).

Russia is also working on 6th gen. aircraft.

Sukhoi design bureau prepared the first blueprints for Russia’s sixth-generation fighter jets TASS news agency reported last year.

“I’m referring also to new design concepts briefly presented by the Sukhoi design bureau and by the general designer appointed for all aircraft systems and armaments [..] They have really come up with the designs for the creation of the sixth-generation fighter” Moscow’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said in a meeting with the journalists.

So, although the T-50 PAK-FA, its first 5th Gen. stealth fighter, is still being developed, Moscow has started working on its replacements, even though no further detail about the technologies that the new aircraft types will embed has been unveiled.

There are reasons to believe the Russian sixth-generation concept is going to be somehow different from the U.S. Air Force’s F-X Next Generation Air Dominance: Sukhoi might base its 6th Gen. on the PAK-FA and upgrade the design throughout the years similarly to what they have done with the Su-27 and subsequent Flanker variants up to the Su-35S.

This means that the PAK-FA will probably become a 5++ Gen. thanks to the planned upgrades and be the base for Russia’s 6th Gen. fighter.

Among the most interesting upgrades in the PAK-FA (now Su-57) roadmap there’s a future radar based on photonics that was announced by the Russian state-owned Radio-Electronic Technologies (KRET) in December 2015 and a full-scale working model is expected by the end of 2018.

The ultra-wideband active radio-optical phased array technology (known by its Russian acronym ROFAR) radar will be half the weight of a current conventional radar and allow to virtually get a “3D TV picture on a range up to 400 km.”

Considered the operational range of the radar, the ROFAR will be virtually impossible to jam, at least on paper.

However, such optimistic claims will have to be backed by facts: unlike the U.S., that have been operating 5th Gen. aircraft (the F-22 and, more or less, the F-35) and active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars for years, so far, Russia has not been able to operate a next generation stealth aircraft nor AESA radar system (both ones are still at the testing stage).

New Photos of Russia’s Sukhoi Su-57 Stealth Jet Show Some Progress of Russian Advanced Fighter Program

New Ninth Example of Russian 5th Generation Sukhoi Su57 (PAK FA) With Its Enormous Fuel Tanks Spotted at Zhukovsky.

Vladimir Zinenko, admin for the Facebook group page “ВВС России”, a page for fans of the Russian Air Forces, has shared new photos of the ninth example of Sukhoi’s 5th generation fighter, the recently designated Su-57. The aircraft has been referred to in development as the T-50 and is the outcome of Russia’s PAK-FA advanced fighter development program. The program is intended to field an advanced 5th gen air superiority aircraft to offer capabilities similar to the U.S. F-22 Raptor.

One noteworthy distinction between the U.S. Air Force’s F-22 Raptor and the T-50/Su-57 is advanced, precision air-to-ground capability engineered into the aircraft from its origin, whereas the F-22 Raptor acquired this capability following its “increment 2” upgrade program in 2005 and has since demonstrated its precision strike capability in Syria.

The new aircraft flew through Zhukovsky International Airport two days ago when a number of spotters photographed it. The photos quickly appeared on the Russian aircraft spotter and photographer forum RussianPlanes.net.

The T-50 prototypes have worn several paint schemes so far and this latest example is wearing the pixelated two-tone camouflage livery seen on at least one other T-50/Su-57.

For the long ferry flight made from where the aircraft apparently first flew on Aug. 6, 2017 at Komsomolsk-on-Amur it transited approximately 3,273 miles (6,066 kilometers) to Zhukovsky where the photos were taken two days ago. The aircraft carried a large pair of underwing tanks during the flight.

The long ferry flight from its likely production facility to the Moscow area for testing spanned most of Russia.

This new aircraft, wearing tail number “511”, has been characterized as a production test aircraft using the final version of the Su-57’s airframe. It is said to have tested production capabilities for follow-on examples likely to be built in a low-initial-rate setting.

Questions continue to surround the Su-57 program. Criticism has surfaced in western media of the aircraft’s actual stealth capability, but many of these criticisms in popular media mirror those seen in the western non-defense press about the U.S. F-35 program, a largely successful program that has nonetheless drawn intense scrutiny and criticism in media outside the defense industry.

The majority of concerns about the Su-57 are focused on its engine program. The aircraft have used the NPO Saturn/Izdeliye 117, or AL-41F1 engine with vectored thrust capability. An engine fire in June 2014 seriously damaged the fifth PAK-FA/T-50 prototype during testing. That aircraft has since been repaired following engine replacement that took over a year. There have been reports of a program to re-engine the aircraft by 2025 with an entirely new powerplant intended specifically for the Su-57.

Image credit: Andrey Neyman via RussianPlanes.net

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Paris Demo Will “Crush Years Of Misinformation” Says Lockheed Martin Demo Pilot As New F-35A Aerobatic Routine for PAS 2017 Is Revealed

“We are going to crush years of misinformation about what this aircraft is capable of doing”

After we scooped the story about the F-35A’s new fully aerobatic flight demonstration to be performed at this week’s Paris Air Show at Le Bourget airport in France, Aviation Week reporter Lara Seligman wrote today in AW that Lockheed Martin company test and demo pilot Billie Flynn told her, “After 10 years since its first flight, with our first opportunity to demonstrate the capabilities and the maneuverability of the F-35, we are going to crush years of misinformation about what this aircraft is capable of doing,” during an interview for Aviation Week.

The flight demonstrations at the Paris Air Show will be flown by company pilot Billie Flynn, not U.S. Air Force crews.

The USAF F-35A demonstration aircraft to be flown in the flight demo and on static display at Paris were ferried to Europe by USAF crews even though the flying routing will be flown by a Lockheed Martin pilot.

Lockheed Martin is on an aggressive campaign to close sales for the F-35A among user-nations as confirmed by stories breaking this morning that report, “Lockheed Martin is in the final stages of negotiating a $37 billion-plus deal to sell 440 F-35 fighter jets to a group of 11 nations including the United States”, two people familiar with the deals told Reuters news agency.

Lara Seligman’s report for Aviation Week identifies both the “high show” F-35A flight demonstration routine and the “low show” routine performed at lower altitude in the event of overcast/cloudy weather conditions. A quick check of the weather forecast for the next five days in the skies above Le Bourget says conditions will be hot with high temperatures in the ‘90’s Fahrenheit and “Mostly Sunny” conditions with a small chance of rain.

The new, dynamic flight demo routine for F-35A at Paris beginning today. (Image: Lockheed Martin via Aviation Week)

Seligman quoted demo pilot Flynn as saying that, “The [Paris] flight demonstration is carefully scripted to highlight the kinematic capabilities of the F-35A, particularly its slow-speed handling qualities.” She reported that, “He will start with an afterburner takeoff, almost immediately pointing his nose to the sky and letting the aircraft climb away essentially vertically.” Flynn went on to mention tell reporter Seligman that, “This impressive move is unique to the F-22 and the F-35.”

Back in 2013, talking to Flight’s Dave Majumdar, the very same LM test pilot Bill Flynn claimed that all three variants of the Joint Strike Fighter were to have better kinematic performance than any fourth-generation fighter plane with combat payload, including the Eurofighter Typhoon, a statement that was somehow “busted” by a Typhoon pilot who clearly explained The Aviationist “No way an F-35 will ever match a Typhoon fighter jet in aerial combat.”

Anyway, along with everyone else in the aviation world, we’re looking forward to the new, dynamic F-35A show debuting this week in Paris. The first F-35A demo at Paris flies today at 3:30 PM local time in France.

Top image: Today in Paris will be the first time airshow crowds get to see what the F-35A is capable of in demonstration flight. (Inverted file photo by Tom Demerly)

 

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A Highly-Modified Boeing 757 Pivotal To Enhance The F-22 Raptor 5th Generation Stealth Aircraft

The Flying Test Bed routinely flies with real F-22 Raptors both at Edwards and Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada in order to gain an early look at F-22 mission software.

N757A is a highly modified and instrumented Boeing 757 that has been retrofitted to act as an F-22 flying laboratory. Also referred to as the Flying Test Bed (FTB), the aircraft (the first B757 ever produced), is used to perform flight test of F-22 avionics and sensors in an open-air, operationally representative environment.

The weird 757 Flying Test Bed was used to test the Raptor’s avionics in flight, before the first Raptor ever flew: this was critical to speed up the development of F-22’s avionics – “more highly integrated than anything in existence” – enabling extensive in-flight testing, evaluation and troubleshooting while reducing risk and costs.

The test avionics are operated from a simulated F-22 cockpit installed in the cabin that embeds primary and secondary F-22 displays, as well as a throttle and stick. According to Boeing, the FTB has room on the aircraft for up to 30 software engineers and technicians who can evaluate the avionics, identify anomalies and, in some cases, resolve problems in real-time. Moreover, additional modifications to the 757 include installation of an F-22 radar housed in the forward fuselage section of the quite distinctive nose of the plane, and installation of a sensor wing on the crown of the plane immediately behind the flight deck.

Since the F-22 continues to grow as new software releases make new features, sensors and capabilities available, the FTB, routinely flies with F-22 Raptors both at Edwards AFB, California, and Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada: these joint missions provide the testers an early look at F-22 mission software before the code is released to developmental flight testers, mainly at Edwards.

Although not as much as the F-35, the F-22’s 5th generation capabilities are mostly “software-defined.” For instance, 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) was introduced on the U.S. premiere air superiority fighter with the software increment 3.1 back in 2012. Then, with the latest upgrades the F-22s have become a real multi-role platformsthat can drop 8 GBU-39 small diameter bombs (while previously limited to carry two 1,000-lb GBU-32 JDAMs – Joint Direct Attack Munitions) in the internal weapon bay, and the AIM-9X Sidewinder, that was first introduced operationally on Mar. 1, 2016 by the 90th Fighter Squadron.

Two F-22 Raptors from the 411th Flight Test Squadron fly over Edwards Air Force Base, California. (Courtesy photo by Chad Bellay/Lockheed Martin)

Noteworthy, the FTB visited Edwards earlier in May to examine the F-22 Raptor program’s upgraded mission software, a U.S. Air Force release states.

“This particular FTB deployment provided an excellent training opportunity for the FTB test team, as well as members of the F-22 CTF, while reducing risk to the F-22 3.2B (software) program by allowing us to have an early look at some prototype mission software planned for the final 3.2B software delivery,” said Rachel Kitzmann, Boeing Agile Integration Laboratory F-22 lead test director. “Our F-22 mission equipment is completely segregated from the 757 flight controls, so we can fly with prototype software that has not gone through a formal Equipment Operational Flight Clearance process. This allows us to have an early look at developmental software and problem fixes prior to release to the 411 Flight Test Squadron here at Edwards.”

Interestingly, FTB has the ability to load different software in real-time during flight, allowing multiple configurations to be tested during early developmental testing in pretty long missions, lasting up to seven hours. When not in flight, the FTB is connected to Boeing’s Agile Integration Ground Laboratory, which allows the company to add additional hardware, instrumentation and test equipment required to perform system-level integration and development testing.

“The FTB saves money and reduces the F-22 modernization timeline,” said Kevin Sullivan, 411th FLTS F-22 avionics lead. “It provides risk reduction because it’s easier to fly, fix, fly more quickly instead of having software certified and loaded into an actual F-22. It allows us to look at the avionics software in an F-22 representative hardware and software environment and is capable of acting like an F-22, which can integrate with our F-22s here during test sorties.”

The FTB has been supporting the development of F-22’s mission software well before the Raptor’s first flight (image credit: LM)

The FTB is based at St. Louis Missouri, since May 5. Previously it operated from Boeing Field in Washington where it had been based since 1999.

Top image credit: Sunil Gupta/Wikimedia

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