The US Air Force has finalized the air-to-ground upgrade for the Lockheed Martin F-22, an historic milestone that makes the Raptor a truly multirole aircraft — and perhaps does a bit more.
This tantalizing piece of news was buried deep inside a press release issued yesterday by the USAF, which focused on the award presented to the Increment 3.1 upgrade team.
The award-winning team finalized the 3.1 upgrade two months early, completing fit-checks on the new GBU-39 small diameter bomb and BRU-61 smart bomb rack, and installing the new air-to-ground mode on the Northrop Grumman APG-77 radar, the press release said.
Using fanstaticaly inscrutable language, the press release also discloses that the Increment 3.1 upgrade required 90,000 maintenance actions, which included installing 114 brackets, 167 wire harness assemblies and 418 pounds of “replacement introduction package” for the AIM-120 missile’s vertical ejection launcher.
Here’s more interesting details:
Through their effort, the team modified 149 Raptors and performed 496Increment 3.1 test points. They accomplished aircraft boom and ribstructural upgrade, which extended the test aircraft’s life, addingmore than 5,000 flight hours. [Emphasis added].
The F-22 is designed to operate for 8,000 flight hours. I want to know if that structural life extension applies only to the test aircraft or the entire fleet.