Jeffery Jeffrey Smith’s sources might have been correct. The F-22 that crashed on March 25 could have been practicing an air-to-ground mission, as Smith reported. My blog on August 1 scolding Smith for a seemingly obvious factual error might itself be wrong.
Of course, it wasn’t public knowledge until yesterday that Raytheon has converted the AIM-9X into an air-to-ground weapon. So it seems I’ve uncovered my own error (darn it!).
When the accident investigation report noted the F-22 crashed during a side weapons bay test, it seemed to contradict Smith’s report. He called it a ground attack test. The only weapon that fits inside the F-22 side weapons bay is, of course, the AIM-9X.
We now know that the AIM-9X can also be an air-to-ground weapon.
I asked Raytheon earlier this week if the fatal F-22 flight test last March involved the AIM-9X Block 2, which introduces the lock-on-after launch and air-to-surface capabilities. The company said they cannot make any comment about the nature of the F-22 flight test on that day.
If Smith’s article was indeed correct, it raises some interesting possibilities for the F-22 as an air-to-ground fighter. I can’t imagine that the USAF would employ the F-22′s immense firepower to stop a speed boat. But an F-22 firing an air-to-ground version of the AIM-9X presents other possibilities. One of the F-22′s core missions is to detect and destroy surface-to-air missile systems. Might the new AIM-9X be useful against such targets, especially against mobile missile launchers?
Perhaps yes, perhaps no.
But it’s no longer possible to rule out Smith’s sources, who told him the F-22 was conducting an air-to-ground weapons test on that day.
So mea culpa, Jeffrey. I owe you a free beer.
My apologies to The Washington Post