First supersonic AIM-9X launch from an F-22 Raptor

At Edwards AFB, California, the F-22 combined test forcerecently conducted its first supersonic AIM-9X Sidewinder launch. Major RyanHowland flew that first test sortie on 30 July.2012_F22_Supersonic_AIM9X.jpg

Here is an excerpt from an earlier story I did that coversthe USAF’s efforts to upgrade the Raptor. The full story can found here.

 

In 2014, the USAF willstart to field Increment 3.2A. The software-only modification”incorporates new electronic protection techniques and improves thesituational awareness of the pilot with the addition of new combatidentification techniques”, Williams says. It will also correlate datafrom the Link 16 data-link and fuse it with the F-22′s integrated sensors.

 

That effort will befollowed up with an Increment 3.2B upgrade. A Milestone B decision to go aheadwith the procurement of Increment 3.2B is planned for December 2012, Williamssays. “Kit procurement begins in fiscal year [2016] with kit deliveries in[the third quarter of] fiscal year [2017] and initial installations completedin [the first quarter of fiscal year [2018],” he says.

 

Increment 3.2B is ahardware and software upgrade that will fully incorporate the

 

AIM-120D and AIM-9Xair-to-air missiles in addition to further upgraded geo-location and electronicprotection capabilities.

 

But according to arecent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, it will no longer add thecapability to independently re-target eight SDBs at eight separate targets oran automatic ground collision avoidance system (Auto-GCAS). A USAF ScientificAdvisory Board study on the Raptor’s ongoing oxygen system woes has recommendedthat an Auto-GCAS be implemented.

 

Increment 3.2B is amuch more complicated upgrade than the previous efforts.

 

“We will beimplementing a new enhanced stores management system, increasing the ability ofthe aircraft to communicate with the weapons,” Williams says. “Thischange will provide a common split-bus architecture for the Block 30/35aircraft to support the increased communication requirements of newer weaponsystems.”

 

However, the USAFcannot wait until 2017 to launch its newest air-to-air weapons from the Raptor.The service is planning to add a “rudimentary” capability to carryboth the AIM-9X and AIM-120D before Increment 3.2B is completed.

 

The AIM-120D will beadded first in Update 4, which the service plans to release to the fleet in2013. The AIM-9X will be added in Update 5, which is set for a 2015 release.”The AIM-9X effort in Update 5 also serves as a risk reduction activityfor Increment 3.2B,” Williams says.

 

Every aircraft fromTail 03-4045 onwards will receive Increment 3.2A and B, says ACC. According toa recent Government Accountability Office report, the cost of the Raptorupgrade programme will total about $9.7 billion.

 

A further updatecalled Increment 3.2C has recently been renamed Increment 3.3, but thecapabilities that it might include have not yet been defined. Williams says itwill focus on making sure the Raptor remains compatible with new air trafficcontrol systems.

 

“The effort willbe focused on maintaining airspace access and endeavour to include all of thecurrent airspace mandates like Mode S and Mode 5 as well as other FAA/ICAOmandated requirements,” he says.

 

The F-22 SystemProgram Office is still working on trying to graft an open systems architectureto the jet’s computers.

 

Meanwhile, the Flight defense team is in Las Vegas, Nevada,for AVUSI’s Unmanned Systems North America 2012 show. So watch for ourcoverage.

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