F/A-22 Enters Operational Tests Phase


Released on Friday, April 30, 2004
Iraq
United States of America
F-15C Eagle
F-15D Eagle
F/A-22A Raptor
FB-22
RAH-66 Comanche
S-300PMU1
IOC - Initial Operational Capability
SAM - Surface-to-Air Missile
The US Air Force announced that the F/A-22 Raptor Operational Test and Evaluation phase began April 29 when the first two-ship sortie was flown and tested by members of the combined test force at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

After the Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) phase is complete, a report will provide senior US Air Force leaders the information needed to approve the Raptor for full-rate production. To date, 25 F/A-22 air dominance fighters have been delivered to the US Air Force operating at Edwards, Nellis, and Tyndall air force bases.

The IOT&E phase started at Edwards will demonstrate Raptor's key elements such as agility, stealthy, speed and integrated avionics. These attributes will allow Raptor to perform air-to-air and air-to-ground combat missions with impunity amid large numbers of sophisticated ground and airborne threats such as S-300 SAM systems and Su-27/30/35 fighters.

The F/A-22 Raptor air dominance fighter should achieve initial operational capability (IOC) at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, by December 2005. It will replace the proven F-15C/D Eagle fleet. Potentially, a Raptor's intended derivative, called the FB-22, could be the replacement for US Air Force F-15Es and F-117s.

The US Air Force requirement for at least 381 aircraft remains unchanged, but funds availability could drop this figure to less than 300 aircraft. Several weeks ago, Republican Senator McCain suggested that the F/A-22 program could be cancelled following RAH-66's fate to fund the military campaign in Iraq.

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