March 21, 2007 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The US Air Force is to modify its training program for the F-22A Raptor. Pilots who are in their very first stage of flight training will receive interim instruction on the F-16 Fighting Falcon.
An F-22 Raptor takes on fuel from a KC-135 aerial tanker during the Red Flag exercise at Nellis AFB, in February 2007. The Raptors, from the 1st FW at Langley AFB, took part in Red Flag for the first time. [Photo courtesy Paul Ridgway]
"First flight in a $200 million jet will be solo, so a pilot will do a few F-16 flights to get used to a 9g sidestick fighter," said an official from the USAF's Air Education and Training Command.
Twelve students will go through the new course from January 2008, and perform their first of 160 F-22 conversion flights in March.
USAF training system assets include pilot and maintenance trainers (simulators), instructor-led and student-paced courseware, and electronic classrooms.
A pilot training system developed by Boeing supports all F-22 pilot training. It employs three sophisticated simulators:
- The Full Mission Trainer (FMT)
- The Weapons and Tactics Trainer (WTT)
- The Egress Procedures Trainer
The full-mission trainers allow the pilot to practice the entire mission from engine start-up to engine shut down. It supports formation flight training, air refueling, takeoff and landing, emergency procedures, and visual-range combat.
The system features a high resolution, full 360-degree visual system, and is not be motion based.
The weapons and tactics trainers allow the pilot to practice weapons employment and combat tactics only in a desktop environment. The 37 WTTs to be built will be less complex than the FMT, as the pilot will only be able to fly a portion of the mission. The WTTs will have a throttle and stick, a limited visual system, and a PC-type computer to operate the scenarios.
Pilots can practice individual and flight weapons employment. The system can also be used the WTT for mission planning.
The egress procedures trainers allow the pilots to practice cockpit safety procedures and ejection seat inspections and train for ejection and canopy separation procedures.
The 43rd Fighter Squadron of the Air Education and Training Command was the first USAF squadron to operate F-22A. The 43rd was re-established at Tyndall AFB
, Florida in 2002, and, in 2003, with a corps of 15 Raptor Instructor Pilots, began training student Raptor pilots for the 27th Fighter Squadron at Langley AFB, Virginia.
The 43rd continues to produce new Raptor pilots, and will continually serve as the focal point for all F-22 training of combat USAF Raptor pilots and maintainers.