Fighter Jet News

F-22 Raptor News

F-22A Raptor finishes FOT&E

January 19, 2006 (by Jeff Hollenbeck) - Follow-On Test and Evaluation (FOT&E) for the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor was officially completed with the U.S. Air Force announcement late last week rating the world's only 5th Generation stealth fighter in operation "Mission Capable," one of the highest ratings achievable.

The application of advanced avionics software in the F/A-22 is key to the Raptor's revolutionary performance advantage over any other fighter. In the air-to-air arena, the stealthy F/A-22 will be virtually unseen on radar, while its sophisticated array of sensors and advanced radar will allow it to reach out and strike adversary aircraft undetected from long range. The advanced software package will also enhance the Raptor's ability to deliver precision air-to-surface weapons on target, day or night, in any weather. [U.S. Air Force photo by Kevin Robertson]

"This is another great day for the Air Force, the Lockheed Martin-led industry team, and of course our nation, to receive such a validating test rating," said Larry Lawson, Lockheed Martin executive vice president and general manager of the F-22 program. The Air Force FOT&E announcement comes on the heels of the Air Force declaration last month of "Initial Operational Capability" for the F-22 Raptor. "Having this revolutionary combat capability of stealth, speed and precision ready to conduct operations anywhere in the world is good news for our allies and should cause our adversaries to pause," said Lawson.

"This was a significant milestone in terms of validating the F-22’s combat capability," said Maj. Gen. Robin Scott, commander of the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center, Kirtland Air Force Base (AFB), N.M. Other senior officers familiar with the evaluation also noted that this was the most complex operational test ever done on a tactical aircraft.

Follow-On Test and Evaluation, conducted primarily from Nellis AFB, Nev., leveraged the overwhelmingly effective operational performance of the aircraft and played a key role in the U.S. Air Force’s ability to declare F-22 Initial Operational Capability. The evaluation tested air-to-ground Joint Direct Attack Munitions capability, and showed improved sustainment performance compared to that observed during Initial Operational Test & Evaluation (IOT&E) at Edwards AFB, Calif., in 2003-2004. The F-22 was called "overwhelmingly effective" in its air-to-air performance during IOT&E.

Currently, the F-22 Raptor flies at four U.S. bases:
  • Development and modernization testing is conducted at Edwards AFB.
  • Tactics development and future FOT&E will be conducted at Nellis AFB.
  • A full squadron of Raptors is based at Tyndall AFB, Fla., for pilot and maintainer training.
  • Raptor aircraft are being delivered to and are flying at Langley AFB, Va. The 1st Fighter Wing’s 27th Fighter Squadron of Air Combat Command is the first operational squadron to fly the F-22 Raptor.

"The F-22 Raptor's unmatched features - stealth, speed and precision – are factors that will enable combatant commanders to use Raptors to shorten wars and save lives. That's what makes this aircraft relevant today and for the next four decades," said Lawson.