June 17, 2006 (by Jeff Hollenbeck) - With temperatures on the rise as summer heats up, the U.S. Air Force is working on a solution to a minor problem with its new F-22 Raptor fighter jets.
An F-22A Raptor lifts off from Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas, Nevada
According to published reports, the Raptors are getting a bit hot under the collar when the jet sits running on the ground for too long in hot climates. With current operating locations such as Edwards Air Force Base in California and Nellis Air Force base in Nevada and world trouble spots like Afghanistan and Iraq
, this could be a serious problem if not corrected.
The electronics on the F-22 produce tremendous amounts of heat which is normally cooled by airflow and lower ambient temperatures at higher altitudes as well as by using fuel to dissipate the heat on the ground. This works well enough in cooler climates, but when temperatures rise above 120 degrees fahrenheit the Raptors' systems begin to shut down to avoid damage after about 44 minutes on the ground. Temperatures at Nellis regularly exceed 120 degrees during summer and some locations in Iraq have been known to exceed 135 degrees which would definitely be problematic for the F-22 at this time.
Currently, there are plans to include more of the Raptors' fuel system in the cooling process so as to provide more of a heat sink for the avionics. Other plans to cure this issue include software modifications to start some of the electronics after the aircraft is airborne to reduce the amount of heat generated and possibly changing proceedures for launching the aircraft. The current proceedure is to start the engines 30 minutes prior to takeoff, but the US Air Force
is considering reducing that time if possible.