February 10, 2007 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The F-22 Raptor team is the recipient of the National Aeronautic Association (NAA) 2006 Robert J. Collier Trophy, considered America's most prestigious award for aeronautical and space development.
An F-22A Raptor refuels inflight from a KC-135R Stratotanker over Alaska during exercise Northern Edge 2006 on June 9, 2006. The Raptor is from the 27th FS, Langley AFB, Va. The Stratotanker is from the 168th ARW, Alaska ANG. [DoD photo by SSgt. Joshua Strang]
The NAA is the oldest national aviation organization in the United States dedicated to the advancement of the art, sport and science of aviation in the U.S. The Collier Trophy was established in 1911 and is granted each year "for the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America… during the preceding year."
The Raptor Team's nomination package underscored the numerous performance, safety and efficiency dividends the Raptor has provided to U.S. and world aviation through its development, testing and manufacturing phases. The nomination's main focus, however, was the Raptor's overwhelming performance in the demanding 2006 joint military exercise called Northern Edge.
During the large-scale, force-on-force exercise, Raptor pilots flew an amazing 97 percent of their scheduled missions, achieved an unheard of 80-to-1 kill ratio against their Red Air "opponents", scored direct hits with 100 percent of their 1,000-pound GBU-32
Joint Direct Attack Munition air-to-ground weapons, and increased overall situational awareness for their entire team through the F-22's integrated avionics package.
The Raptor's performance in Northern Edge confirmed that it is the most lethal, reliable, survivable and revolutionary fighter the world has ever seen. U.S. Air Force Raptor pilots who formerly flew legacy fighters say the F-22 is taking military aviation to a whole new level. Just as jet fighters were able to operate "with impunity" against piston-driven aircraft, the F-22 represents a quantum leap in capability and survivability over previous fighters.
NAA President and CEO David Ivey said the fighter's performance has "established the unquestionable superiority of the Raptor, a culmination of years of visionary design, rigorous testing, and innovative manufacturing."