USAF buries historic news of F-22 upgrade

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.


4 Responses to USAF buries historic news of F-22 upgrade

  1. Dave 11 June, 2009 at 6:37 pm #

    I’m curious how they modified 149 Raptors when only 142 have been delivered to the USAF. I think someone screwed up writing the press release, since operational testing for Increment 3.1 is scheduled for next year and installation is tentatively scheduled to start in FY 2011. Thats according to the F-22 SPO and someone at the 422nd TES.

  2. airplanejim 12 June, 2009 at 2:43 am #

    Why does putting a $300,000,000 air superiority aircraft into a air to ground mission seem more than a little silly when there are numerous other aircraft available to do that same mission? LO technology is of little use in the down and low and dirty world.

  3. Dimitris 14 June, 2009 at 10:26 pm #

    airplanejim – You are thinking of close air support.

    The F-22′s A/G abilities are meant to be used in a Day-1 deep-strike context, where VLO is particularly useful.

    After the primary nodes of an enemy IADS have been neutralized, the F-35 and other assets are supposed to undertake close air support of ground forces.

  4. Anjanette 25 August, 2010 at 5:33 am #

    This is quite normal and something not to be too worried about.

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