Another Al-Dhafra post-script for F-22

What really happened in the skies over Al Dhafra last November and December when US Air Force F-22s fought mock dogfights with French Rafales may never be confirmed. The French and the Americans who were involved have different stories. A new blog post today by Arabian Aerospace doesn’t shed new light on the outcome of the dogfights, but does offer new information about the F-22′s reliability on deployment.

Only a year ago, Department of Defense officials claimed the F-22 was twice as expensive to operate than the F-15. Now the USAF claims that the F-22 will require a smaller logistics footprint than the F-15 after unspecified changes are made within six months.

Though the deployment marked the F-22A’s first extended test under such harsh desert conditions, with fierce sandstorms and 100° temperatures, and despite operating thousands of miles from its normal supply chain, the aircraft exceeded the USAF’s expectations, demonstrating impeccable availability and a higher-than-expected sortie rate. “The maintenance group didn’t know what to expect and so we took a generic support equipment package,” Rogers said later. “We pretty well got it just right.” In the event, the F-22A operated at a higher tempo and with a smaller logistics footprint than would be required by the F-15 or F-16 – aircraft types that have been deploying to the region since the 1970s.The 27th Fighter Squadron’s CO expressed his satisfaction with the progress that had been made, stressing: “The problems we had with software, avionics, sensor tasking and sensor fusion back in 2003 when I joined the F-22 programme have all been ironed out, and we’re transitioning to a great point in the next six months where the aircraft will truly be cost-effective and fully mature.” He said he expected a real improvement in sortie generation capability in the near future.

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11 Responses to Another Al-Dhafra post-script for F-22

  1. Big D 7 August, 2010 at 1:13 am #

    So, of course, we stopped building them…

  2. aeroxavier 7 August, 2010 at 6:00 pm #

    i have see that last day but when i have read, the result of the f-22 and rafale, the pilot of the f-22 have only 30 hours on the raptor against other who have 3000 hour on one mirage.
    No serious, i don’t read the rest after that. USA deploy for the first time this plane with guy who pilot it the first time, 30 hours? without the deployment (thousands km) that make 20 hours….

    i’m sure for one things, USA will prove one real superiority of their aircraft to promote the f-35. But in this exercice, you don’t see one real supremacy, the rafale or the emiratis mirage 2000-9 was similar to the f-22.
    US response: f-22 was 5th gen like f-35 , he was superior to 4th gen. With the BVR, this is to late now for prove anythings, rafale,eurofighter or russian plane was going to have one similar system (and not inferior). The rafale take it before the export of the f-35. This is for that USA will give plane where they have the control, take f-35 or we make one price for f-16, f-18..

    only shit was done by USA, one beautyful plane don’t make one exceptional plane

  3. Matthew G. Saroff 8 August, 2010 at 3:45 am #

    Count me as dubious.

  4. Steve 8 August, 2010 at 10:50 am #

    I suspect that deployment would have spent little time on stealth coating maintenance, as I am sure the stealth signature was degraded (perhaps by spray on coating) so that all the other interested (read intelligence gathering) participants in the exercise would get a false idea of the true F-22 radar cross section.
    Only a few months ago, LM announced the biggest break through on the F-35 was building the radar absorption into the structure, rather than the easily dammaged, high maintenance, skin coatings used on the F-117, B-2 and F-22.
    US and UK submarines I exercised against in Cold War training were usually known to have extra noise augmentors to disguise their true acoustic (stealth) signature, in similar fashion to what I believe would happen to the F-22 on allied exercises.

  5. Aussie Digger 8 August, 2010 at 1:59 pm #

    F-22′s always fly with RCS enhancers, when they deploy overseas or on exercise. They use a small L shaped metal object underneath the fuselage for that purpose….

    It is for this reason, that I am amused by (mostly) foreign reports of fighters being capable of ‘tracking’ F-22′s with radar…

    Eurofighter are especially known for this, given their public statements about the subject…

    In fact if you believe their propaganda about how effective their CAPTOR radar is, it leads one wonder to why they A. Require an AESA upgrade and B. Require the PIRATE IRST system…



  6. John K 8 August, 2010 at 3:27 pm #

    Interesting tidbit:

    “…the F-22As flew only within visual range 1 vs 1 BFM (Basic Fighter Manoeuvring) sorties, and did so carrying under-wing fuel tanks…”

    I didn’t see this part in any French press release when boasting how the F-22 scored ONLY 1 kill out of 6 in BFM.

  7. Tim D-T 9 August, 2010 at 2:48 pm #

    It is always a highlight of my day to read aeroxavier’s posts. Kind of like listening to a speech by Hugo Chavez . . .

  8. Dave 9 August, 2010 at 3:23 pm #

    You mean you can understand his posts? Astonishing… I might have to hit you up for a translation one of these days.

  9. Michael Denesyk 12 August, 2010 at 2:59 am #

    I agree with Aussie Digger. The RCS of the F 22 is made to read as big as a Mirage or a Rafale in excercises because they cannot have a Stealth Fighter roaming around in very sensitive airspace, and further more, the local ATC would demand to know who is in their airspace, ergo, they would have an ugly blob hanging underneath the aircraft that would amplify the radar signature.

    I remember reading about the SR 71 having to use a similar device to allow it to be tracked by ATC. The same goes for the F 117.

    Eurofighter is a great aircraft as well. But lets be real and realize that the USAF will not have spent so much on developing an Air Dominance fighter that isn’t really stealthy.

  10. Dare2 13 August, 2010 at 9:42 am #

    To reply to the comment by John K…

    What you certainly haven’t seen are these external tanks fitted to F-22s on the pictures taken by the Camera channel of the Rafale’s OSF during the very same exercise.
    According to the “patron” of the 1/7, all aircraft were in clean configuration and the pitures provided by Armee de l’Air seems to show just that.

    Desinformation ran high after Peter Colling article was published in Flight International, it is the case again for this information infortunately, we know the source quiet well…

    The RCS enhancer is well visible though…

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