July 04, 2019

Could This New Threat Bring Down the Peerless F-22 Raptor?
The incident has also spotlighted the Pentagon’s struggles with operational readiness. Of the fifty-five Raptors at Tyndall, only 60 percent were able to fly out of the base with a few days’ notice. In fact, while the finicky Raptor has an especially poor fleet-wide readiness rate of forty-nine percent, even less maintenance-intensive aircraft such as F-16s and F-15 average only seventy to seventy-five percent operational readiness, and that figure may go back down to fifty percent for Marine and Navy fighter units.​The F-22 Raptor may be the most elusive fighter ever built. It has a radar-cross section the size of a marble, and if it gets into trouble, it can rocket away traveling up to two-and-a-half times the speed of sound—so fast that the friction from the air would melt its radar-absorbent coatings right off its airframe. But this October, the Air Force discovered that a Raptor with its wings clipped can’t evade the force of nature.(This first appeared late last year.)Tyndall Air Force Base, located on a coastal peninsula across from Panama City, Florida, is a sprawling twenty-nine thousand-acre complex which at the beginning of October housed fifty-five F-22 Raptors of the 325th Fighter Wing—nearly a third of all F-22s built, making it the primary center for Raptor pilot training. It also houses QF-16 jet fighter drones used for Full-Scale Aerial Target tests, T-38 supersonic jet trainers and Mitsubishi Mu-2 twin-engine utility planes used to train AWACS crews in airborne-early warning skills.



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