Posts Tagged ‘F-22 Raptor’

F-22 Raptor — Major Acquisition Unlikely

February 25, 2009

According to Air Force Magazine, US Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz is noncommital on continued F-22 Raptor fighter jet acquisition, but his words sound bearish. Here’s what Air Force Magazine writes:

The Air Force’s new acquisition objective for the F-22 likely won’t be officially announced until President Obama decides whether to certify the airplane as a critical defense program that must be kept going, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz told Washington-based defense reporters Feb. 17.

See the F-22 Raptor in action: History – Modern Marvels : F/A-22 Raptor

Lawmakers in both houses have urged the President to continue Raptor production in the short term, pending another review of the necessary total number. Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen has publicly stated the Air Force is looking at perhaps an additional 60 Raptors. Rumor has it that Mullen will make the final call.

Schwartz said the new number has been run through “an analysis which I feel is credible” and was arrived at “objectively.” He added that the Air Force is not afraid to revisit old assumptions and react to changes.

However, he dodged saying just what strategic considerations have changed that would make the F-22 less important in the future. The new number will be a “moderate risk” inventory, Schwartz said, and “I will be happy to defend the numbers when they become public.” However, he said there was “considerable skepticism about the validity” of the old Air Force target of 381 F-22s. “Maybe there will be equal skepticism of the new number,” he continued, “but it is my number and that is what we will use.”

F-22 Raptor’s Proud Record

February 17, 2009

Find the F-22 Raptor on posters, framed art prints, 2009 calendars, and greeting card sets. Visit the PatriArt Gallery today — your one-stop shopping site for military and patriotic themed holiday gifts. Worldwide delivery available.

Late last year, the F-22 was verbally trashed by Pentagon acquisition chief John Young, who charged that the Raptor wasn’t meeting key performance parameters and was turning in mission capable rates of only about 60 percent.

Larry Lawson, Lockheed Martin’s F-22 program manager, declined to rebut those remarks directly during an interview with Air Force Magazine. However, he displayed a chart showing that the F-22 meets all KPPs and exceeds about half of them, including range, top speed, acceleration, and radar detection range.

The aircraft’s mission capable rates are coming in around 70 percent—which is the Air Force’s overall fighter average—but they don’t have to meet that level until the aircraft reaches “maturity,” which is around 100,000 flight hours.

Young dinged the F-22 for needing too much maintenance, but the program is on track to meet a specification that calls for three hours mean time between maintenance at maturity in 2010; it’s at 1.8 hours now.

In exercises and simulations, the Raptor racks up a 30:1 kill ratio, vs. 3:1 for the F-35, and slightly better than 1:1 for the F-15. All other fourth-generation fighters in US service score a tossup against foreign fighters.

Lawson also noted that the F-22 program received two performance awards from the Pentagon in 2008—the Secretary of Defense Performance-Based Logistics Award, and Collaborator of the Year.

See the F-22 Raptor in action: History – Modern Marvels : F/A-22 Raptor

Bottom Line: USAF Needs 250 F-22 Raptors, Minimum

February 12, 2009

Not Less Than 250: That’s how many F-22s the United States needs “for the good of the nation and the world” to shore up its conventional deterrence capabilities for the next 20 years, writes Rebecca Grant in a new study she authored for the Lexington Institute.

Air Force Magazine quotes Grant as saying that the F-22 is crucial for conventional deterrence because it gives the US the ability to conduct tailored, proportional air strikes in the face of evolving threats and also to gather valuable intelligence information over defended areas that otherwise “lock out” other airborne assets.

The US would be taking a risk by halting F-22 production now and could see its policy options cramped in coming decades by the limits of its own military power, Grant says. “If the F-22 fleet remains stuck at 183 aircraft, it will put future conventional deterrence abilities at risk,” quotes Air Force Magazine.

Commanders may not have enough of them to defeat threats with confidence and “the overall life of the fleet would be used up years before it should be, due to heavy tasking,” she states.

The Obama Administration has until March 1 by law to inform Congress whether it intends to keep Raptor production going beyond 183 aircraft.

Learn all about the F-22 Raptor via a breathtaking multimedia view: 21st Century U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor, Next-Generation USAF Fighter Aircraft (CD-ROM)

USAF to Brief Obama Team on F-22 Raptor Requirement

December 13, 2008

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Top Air Force officials are poised to make a case to President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team for more F-22A fifth-generation fighters they feel are needed to combat current threats, reports Inside Defense.

Read the full report at www.insidedefense.com (paid subscription required)

American Birds of Prey

December 5, 2008

An F-22 Raptor and an F-15 Eagle fighter jet of the US Air Force patrol the Alaskan coastline along Prince William Sound. Both USAF combat aircraft are assigned to Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska.

Find this and other exciting images as posters, framed art prints, 2009 calendars, and greeting card sets. Visit the PatriArt Gallery today — your one-stop shopping site for military and patriotic themed holiday gifts. Worldwide delivery available.

American Patrol

November 30, 2008

America’s finest airpower comes together: F-15 Eagle fighters, the mainstay of US Air Force air superiority, join the 21st century’s super-fighter, the F-22 Raptor. Rounding out the scene is an A-10 Thunderbolt II, USAF’s finest tank-killer and close-air-support CAS aircraft.

Find this and other exciting images as posters, framed art prints, 2009 calendars, and greeting card sets. Visit the PatriArt Gallery today — your one-stop shopping site for military and patriotic themed holiday gifts. Worldwide delivery available.

November 22, 2008

A USAF F-22 Raptor jet fighter soars over historic Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia.

Find this and other exciting images as posters, framed art prints, 2009 calendars, and greeting card sets. Visit the PatriArt Gallery today — your one-stop shopping site for military and patriotic themed holiday gifts. Worldwide delivery available.

“To avoid unnecessary taxpayer spending, Defense Department officialsare only partially funding the expansion of F-22 Raptor aircraft production, leaving the decision for further expansion to the incoming presidential administration,” writes Sara Moore in a 21 November AFPS article. 

She continues:

John J. Young Jr., the undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, told members of the air and land forces subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee in a Nov. 19 hearing that he has approved $50 million for advance procurement for four F-22s. 

DOD officials will include the purchase of these four aircraft in the second fiscal 2009 supplemental budget request, he said.

The decision on whether to use the rest of the $140 million allocated in the 2009 National Defense Authorization Act for advance procurement for up to 16 more F-22s will be up to the President-elect Barack Obama administration in January, Mr. Young said. Procurement of the four F-22s provides a bridge to give the new administration every option with the program.

“The department is acting responsibly, consistent with (Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’) commitment and congressional direction, seeking to ensure that each tax dollar is used carefully and efficiently,” he said.

DOD officials are delaying the advance procurement on the remaining 16 aircraft to save taxpayer money should the President-elect Obama administration decide not to purchase the aircraft, Mr. Young said. However, he acknowledged, if the new administration delays its decision on the F-22s past January, it could face higher costs from the manufacturers.

The National Defense Authorization Act authorizes advance procurement for the F-22s until March, and if the decision on the remaining aircraft doesn’t come until then, there is a very real chance the cost for the planes could go up, Mr. Young said. However, he cautioned that the estimates for those higher prices are based on industry estimates that haven’t been negotiated.

“I’m not ignoring the industry estimates, but I’m also not granting them credibility, and so … if we do nothing until March, I could face — and that’s what I was told by industry — a cost, which I would seek to negotiate away on behalf of the government,” Mr. Young said.

Countering committee members’ claims that he was acting in defiance of Congress by not funding all 20 aircraft, Mr. Young said the law doesn’t require him to buy the planes all at once, and his goal is to save the taxpayers money.

“Can I buy that advance procurement as four plus 16, instead of 20, and impose no additional cost on the taxpayer and preserve the total flexibility and option of the next administration to come and discuss with the Congress whether they want to buy the airplanes behind the advance procurement? And that is the option, having convinced myself that that is possible, we sought to execute,” he said.

DOD officials have done a legitimate analysis of the F-22 program, and though some Air Force officials may disagree, Secretary Gates said he believes the department is on its way to the right mix of aircraft, Mr. Young said.

“From Secretary Gates down, there has been a hard look at that analysis and a view that it is a higher priority to do other things in the Defense Department than buy additional F-22s at this time,” he said.

Lawmakers Pressure Pentagon to Release Funds for Controversial F-22 Fighter Jet

November 9, 2008

Senior House lawmakers are ratcheting up pressure on Defense Department officials to release congressionally approved funding for an Air Force fighter that has been the subject of a running battle between Pentagon and Air Force leaders.

In a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who has said he wants the F-22 Raptor’s fate decided by the next presidential administration, senior House Armed Services Committee lawmakers demanded an explanation for why $140 million already set aside for the plane’s suppliers is being held up.

The money would go toward keeping the plane’s production line ready for new orders beyond the current plans calling for 183 of the jets to be built. The situation pits lawmakers against Pentagon officials Read the entire article at the Wall street Journal

F-22 Raptor “Zero Hour” Approaches

November 9, 2008
Aviation Calendar 2009

Aviation Calendar 2009

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If the Obama Administration wants to continue with F-22 production, it has until March 2009 to make a stable funding commitment before costs really begin to rise, says the Air Force’s top uniformed acquisition official. The outgoing Administration failed to provide either shut-down or advance procurement funds to cover Raptors beyond Lot 9—the final tranche in the current 183-aircraft program of record—as part of the Fiscal 2009 defense budget request, reports the Air Force Association. But funds added by Congress to the final versions of the defense legislation for the fiscal year will carry the F-22 line to March, at which point “the front end of the [production] line begins to shut down,” said Lt. Gen. Mark Shackelford, military deputy to USAF’s acquisition executive, in an October interview. Shackelford said these Lot 10 F-22s will have a $156 million recurring unit flyaway cost, if the tranche comprises 20 aircraft, but the cost would rise by $25 million per aircraft in March if the fighters are not kept in steady production. The last F-22s currently under contract—the Lot 9 aircraft—will be delivered in 2011. It is possible for the Raptor line to shut down and restart later, but this would come at significant cost. Shackelford noted that a recent RAND analysis estimated that a two-year break in F-22 production would add more than $5 billion to the cost of the program if an additional 75 F-22s were eventually built beyond 183. The Air Force is “well along in the production learning curve,” he said, and the production line is “extremely healthy.” Raptors are available to the combatant commanders today if needed, Shackelford said. (For more on the major Air Force acquisition issues facing the next Administration, read Post Election Day.)

USAF’s Alaskan radar station goes green

October 12, 2008
Alaskan Birds of Prey

Alaskan Birds of Prey

An F-22 Raptor and an F-15 Eagle fighter jet of the US Air Force defend the Alaskan coastline along Prince William Sound. Both USAF combat aircraft are assigned to Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska. Find the Alaskan Birds of Prey poster, framed print, or calendar print at The PatriArt Gallery.

In an effort to reduce high operating costs at the Tin City Long Range Radar Station, engineers with the 611th Civil Engineer Squadron here have completed the construction of a wind turbine generator there.  It is the first such generator to be installed on an Alaskan Air Force installation and within Pacific Air Forces.

The construction at the remote site, located on the Alaska coast near the town of Tin City, was funded by an award of $1.9 million through the Energy Conservation Investment Program, a Department of Defense military construction initiative. 

The ECIP is specifically designed for projects that save energy or reduce defense energy costs. The wind turbine generator will augment the diesel-fueled power production system at Tin City, making it a wind-diesel hybrid.

“I’m very excited about the Tin City wind turbine energy project,” said Col. Brent Johnson, 611th Air Support Group commander. This important milestone for the 611th Air Support Group will be the first renewable Air Force energy project in Alaska and is very timely, given the cost of fuel. Wind energy at Tin City should decrease our annual fuel consumption by 30 to 35 percent, about 85,000 gallons.

The radar site currently is powered by diesel generators. It is located at Cape Prince of Wales on the westernmost point of the North American mainland, on the western tip of the Seward Peninsula in the Bering Sea, approximately 700 miles northwest of Anchorage and approximately 600 miles west of Fairbanks. 

The prevailing winds on the western coast of Alaska put the area in a class seven wind power density zone, the highest possible category. Wind power density is a useful way to evaluate the wind resource available at a site. The WPD indicates how much energy is available at the site for conversion by a wind turbine.

After extensive wind strength and reliability testing, it was determined that Tin City would be the ideal place for a single tower to test the real-world application of wind generation at remote radar stations. During the testing, sustained wind of 83 miles per hour, which is equivalent to a Category 1 hurricane, were experienced. However, according to 611th CES engineers, the average wind speed at Tin City is about 19 miles per hour.

“That’s separate from the maximum sustained wind speed experienced, which was 83 miles per hour,” said Tony Alecci, 611th CES energy management chief. “Not saying it’s 83 miles per hour often, but it illustrates the extreme conditions at the site.” 

A potential annual energy savings of $433,000 is estimated. The current digital control system, to accompany the tower, allows for more control of the existing diesel generators. This allows the site operators to completely shut down the diesel generators when the wind strength is sufficient to power the site. It allows for tailoring the diesel power production to complement the wind production, thus minimizing the fuel usage at the site. The resulting reduction in diesel generator run time is estimated to save $10,000 in reduced maintenance costs annually.

In order to harness the available wind, there were a number of challenges. The first was the amount of icing that coastal sites experience, with Tin City being the worst.

The construction and installation contractor, Tanadgusix Corporation has extensive experience with cold weather wind generation from their St. Paul Island, Alaska, wind turbines. Together with the engineers from the 611th CES, a cutting-edge cold weather package was developed to meet the unique needs of such a harsh environment.

The foundation of the package is an electric based heat system that blows warm air up the tower base and through the tips of the turbine blades to shed the expected icing load. 

In addition to icing issues, airfield safety, radar interference and migratory bird strike issues needed to be addressed. Through working with the FAA and the use of Avian studies, potential tower locations were identified that would provide for negligible impacts on any of the three challenges.

“The 611th Air Support Group is working smarter,” said Lt. Col. Charles Busch, former 611th Civil Engineer Squadron commander. “With the installation of the wind turbine at Tin City, we are using proven, commercial, off-the-shelf technology. Similar turbine units are in use at Nikolski, Sand Point and St. Paul Island, Alaska. Wind turbines are not new to the U.S. Air Force, but they are new to Pacific Air Forces and 11th Air Force in Alaska.”

With the reduction in fuel consumption, Colonel Busch said the return on investment should be realized within about four and a half years.

“We have several other wind turbine projects scheduled,” said Colonel Busch. “The 611th CES is currently pursuing wind turbines at Cape Lisburne, Cape Romonzof and Cape Newenham. Engineering work is also taking place to judge the suitability of wind power generation at Eareckson Air Station.” 

By presidential order, federal agencies must improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by three percent annually through the end of fiscal 2015, and, to the extent feasible, implement renewable energy generation projects on agency property for agency use.

“The 611th continues to work aggressively toward meeting the presidential energy goals,” said Colonel Busch.

Tommy Baker (AFNS)