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Raptor releases JDAM during first 'follow-on' evaluation mission

September 3, 2005 (by 1st Lt. Brooke Davis) - Members of the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron at Nellis AFB flew the first F/A-22 Raptor Follow-on Operational Test and Evaluation mission Aug. 29, releasing Joint Direct Attack Munitions on the Utah Test and Training Range.

An F/A-22 Raptor takes off from Nellis AFB for a mission. During a two-ship sortie, Airmen from the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron flew the first Follow-on Operational Test and Evaluation mission on the F/A-22 Raptor on Aug. 29, releasing Joint Direct Attack Munitions on the Utah Test and Training Range. [U.S. Air Force photo by Tech.Sgt. Kevin J. Gruenwald]

In one of the largest Raptor test phases to date, Air Force organizations are dedicating a large portion of the missions to validate air-to-ground capabilities of the aircraft.

"This test is the culmination of a tremendous effort by numerous organizations and will serve to provide Air Combat Command the best information possible on the air-to-ground capabilities of this aircraft," said Col. Matt Black, Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Detachment 6 commander.

As the overall agency charged with performing the evaluation, Det. 6 has divided testing on seven Raptors into three areas, Colonel Black said.

In one area, the Raptor will release JDAMs on the Utah range. Another evaluation will include firing live AIM-120 advance medium range air-to-air missiles at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The third will be a mission-level evaluation flown on the Nevada Test and Training Range.

Testing is scheduled to last through late fall.

"Transitioning what is the premier air dominance fighter in the world to Follow-on Operational Test and Evaluation is an extremely important milestone for the F/A-22," said Maj. Gen. Stephen M. Goldfein, Air Warfare Center commander. "Organizations involved in evaluating the latest capabilities offered by the Raptor have worked extremely hard, and we wouldn't be where we are today in the final stages of operational test and evaluation without that dedication."

During the evaluation, testers are planning to shoot five missiles and release 16 JDAMs, said Lt. Col. Jeff Weed, 422nd TES commander.

"For this part … the 422nd flies one mission per day; however, each mission may actually be four sorties that also include adversaries, tankers, ground control intercept and the maintenance support required to produce those sorties," he explained. "With this kind of support, the missions are flown using tactics that future Raptor squadrons will take to war. The scenarios are operationally realistic."

The 57th Maintenance Group is supporting the high-paced Raptor missions by making certain the aircraft are ready to fly multiple sorties.

"Maintenance is as much a part of the test as the flying portion," Colonel Black said. "Without the huge maintenance effort by the 57th Maintenance Group to maintain the aircraft and get them airborne, progressing (this evaluation) would have been much more difficult."

The 422nd TES is a tenant unit here of the 53rd Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and the squadron also is responsible for validating software upgrades on the Raptor's advanced avionics system and training future pilots.

Upon completion of the evaluation, Air Combat Command will decide if the Raptor will progress to Initial Operational Capability at the first operational Raptor squadron located at Langley AFB, Va.

Courtesy of Air Warfare Center Public Affairs

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