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,”
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. Rogers