May 6 CBS television show in the program "60 minutes" of two American pilots who master explained why they are afraid to fly on the world's best fighter F-22 Raptor. The story caused a strong reaction in American society, but in our opinion belatedly. It is known that the Air Force bought 179 F-22 fighters at the price of more than $ 400 million apiece, but neither of these wonderful aircraft has not taken part in the fighting in either Iraq or in Libya or Afghanistan. We bring to your attention an article on the subject, published in April 2011.
Why is the U.S. F-22 was removed from participation in the Libyan operation
After the start of the military operation in Libya, the western coalition United States suddenly began to explain the reasons why their "most advanced fighter» — F-22 Raptor — does not participate in the fighting, though such an explanation from the U.S. military, like, no one has claimed. Even more, the U.S. Air Force suddenly found it necessary to publicly explain why they will not upgrade the communications system F-22, and also because of the identified problems have cut marginal altitude aircraft more than doubled. Given that the fighter in the six years of his life had never been involved in combat operations, such behavior of the U.S. military forces to reflect the real possibilities "Raptor".
There would be an opportunity
Western coalition military operation in Libya began March 19, 2011. It was attended by the Air Force and Royal Navy, France, USA, Italy and Canada, with major combat tasks performed fighter F-15 Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon, Dassault Rafale and the Panavia Tornado GR4. Shortly before the start of the operation, dubbed "Odyssey. Dawn, "some American and European analysts anticipated participation of the American fighter F-22 Raptor, the world's only fifth-generation fighter aircraft, entered service.
However, the expectations of the experts did not come true — F-22 in the skies of Libya and has not appeared, and, according to the U.S. Air Force, will not appear in the future. Despite the fact that other members of the Western coalition F-22 participation in military operations, and did not expect the U.S. suddenly decided to defend himself, calling a lot of reasons why the famous "raptors" were not aimed at providing a no-fly zone over Libyan territory.
The first on the issue March 22, 2011 expressed an analyst Loren Thompson, Lexington Institute. According to him, the most advanced American fighter plane simply not designed to perform military tasks, such as those implemented in Libya at the beginning of "The Odyssey." Recall, the main objective of the first phase of the military operation was to provide a no-fly zone over the territory of the African state, which was necessary to bring down all the air defense system, under the control of forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi. In this case, the opposition Libyan aircraft was not taken into account (and, indeed, from the beginning of "The Odyssey" no Libyan aircraft had not been seen in the air).
Thompson said that the F-22 is not physically designed to attack ground targets. The aircraft can be armed with two correctable JDAM bombs caliber 450 pounds, which can, however, hit the stationary, but moving targets. Also, as it turned out, the F-22 radar is unable to map the terrain, as do synthetic aperture radar, and therefore, can not choose their own targets on the ground. This effectively means that if the F-22 in its present form and will be used to bomb any facilities, information on the objectives to be loaded into the on-board computer aircraft before take-off.
But this study limitations American fighter of the fifth generation is not over. It turned out that a fighter has very limited communication capabilities. The aircraft is able to communicate only with other F-22 in the link. Raptor features and "cut down" communication system standard Link 16, is widely used by the U.S. military and NATO, but it works only on receiving operational data from other aircraft and helicopters, and can not be used for data transmission. When you create an F-22 engineers deliberately limited connectivity fighter to provide even more of its low profile — it is assumed that in the case of military aircraft applications will always act in a mode-locked.
On Thompson's reasoning could close your eyes — is that analysts tell things that are subsequently refuted by either the military or did not go beyond speculation and conjecture, finding no factual evidence. However, at the end of March 2011 on the issue of non-participation of the F-22 in the Libyan operation decided to speak personally commanding the U.S. Air Force Norton Schwartz. According to him, the American fighter does not take part in the Libyan operation, because it is geographically far away from the combat area.
"If the F-22 were placed on one of the bases in Europe, they certainly would have taken part in the Libyan operation," — said Schwartz. However, he added that "since the operation in Libya began relatively quickly, it was decided to use a variety of resources located nearby." Currently, U.S. F-22, according to the U.S. Air Force, based in Virginia, New Mexico, California, Florida, Alaska and Hawaii. Toward the end of his speech, Schwartz said that "the fact of non-participation in the F-22, specifically the operation is not an indicator of its uselessness."
On the same day, speaking at a hearing of the subcommittee on Appropriations of the U.S. House, Schwartz tried to explain the reason why the Air Force in 2010 decided not to upgrade communication systems F-22 fighter, which was scheduled to take place in the framework of Increment 3.2. According to Schwartz, on the F-22 was planned to establish a system of communication standard MADL, which is being created for promising fighters F-35 Lightning II. The new system MADL has not been tested for operational use and, therefore, its use in the F-22, according to Schwartz, means extra costs and a risk for which the Air Force can not go. However, the other parameters of the program Increment 3.2 will be implemented.
Details of the F-22
Crew: 1 person;
Length: 18.9 m;
Wingspan: 13.56 meters;
Empty weight: 19.7 tons;
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 38 tons;
Engines: 2 P & W F-119-PW-100 thrust 140 kilonewtons;
Thrust-weight ratio: 1.08;
Maximum speed: Mach 2.25;
Supersonic cruise: Mach 1.5;
Combat radius of 759 kilometers;
Ceiling: 19.8 thousand meters;
Armament: 20-mm cannon, up to six missiles "air-to-air" or two bombs JDAM, four attachment points on the wings for arms weighing up to 2.3 tons.
The former head of the U.S. Air Force Intelligence David Deptula, who attended the hearing in the House of Representatives, strongly criticized the refusal to install MADL for fighter aircraft F-22. According to him, it was pointless to create "the most advanced fighter in the world", so you do not have the opportunity to share data with other aircraft. "There's a penny wisdom and stupidity on the pound" — these words Deptula said the decision to abandon the U.S. Air Force installation of MADL for fighter aircraft F-22.
Curiously, however, that in order to allow the F-22 to communicate with other aircraft, helicopters and ground units, the U.S. Air Force created a special air combat communications center. It consists of six special versions of UAVs RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 20, which fighters are able to exchange data. In this case, the drones are able to relay data from the F-22 to other aircraft and helicopters, equipped with Link 16 system. This bundle is created on the occasion of doing large-scale fighting in reality has not yet been applied.
That is actually the U.S. Air Force confirmed that the exchange of data to pilots F-22 is still needed. But for what you had to create for the "Raptor" single node communication and refuse modernizing their communications fighter, is not entirely clear. Probably, the rate is still done by stealth — exchanging information with a communication center, F-22 gets more access to operational information, without printing out your location.
It is interesting that the F-22 was adopted by the U.S. Air Force in 2005. Since then, he did not participate in any military campaign that drove the U.S. out of the country. On the one hand, the American fighter is too expensive to take part in military operations in Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan or Somalia. But then again, how else can you check out all the capabilities of the aircraft, which in fact his "power" has not yet been proved.
Another blow to the image of the U.S. fifth-generation fighter has suffered at the end of March 2011, when it became clear that the U.S. Air Force introduced a limit on the maximum altitude the F-22. According to the order of the Aviation Combat Command (ACC) U.S. Air Force, the maximum altitude the F-22 should not exceed 7.6 thousand meters — despite the fact that according to specification, "ceiling", "Raptor" is about 20,000 feet. The reason for this decision was the investigation, the purpose of which is to check the on-board oxygen generation systems (OBOGS), installed on many U.S. Air Force fighter jets.
According to the ACC, used military OBOGS may be defective. In particular, it is assumed that the cause of the loss of the F-22 November 17, 2010 in Alaska could become a problem OBOGS. This system is responsible for the generation and supply of oxygen in the breathing gas mask pilot at high altitudes. Because of the failure OBOGS pilot crashed F-22 Jeffrey Haney could experience oxygen starvation and lose consciousness. A ban on regular flights, the U.S. Air Force at the same time made it clear that it does not apply to combat missions of American fighters that are still restricted in their movements.
Limitation ACC explained that at the flight altitude of 15 thousand feet or more pilot has at his disposal only ten seconds before losing consciousness when the oxygen supply is interrupted in the mask. This time is not enough to lower the plane to a height where you can breathe without a mask with breathing mixture. The height of 7.6 thousand meters was considered a safe command, because the pilot in the event of a supply of oxygen can be reduced to 5.4 thousand meters — the height at which it is already possible to breathe without a mask.
However, the authority of the F-22 was blown up a lot sooner. In February 2010 the U.S. Air Force for a while suspended flights of all the "Raptor" — it turned out that airframe is unstable to moisture and easy to rust. Corrosion of the fighters showed up before, but in this case it turned out that the system of drainage of excess moisture from the light aircraft structurally poor and their task is unable to cope. As a result of rust appeared on some elements of light aircraft and even inside the cockpit, and appeared corrosion could cause malfunction of the system bailout.
In 2009, the U.S. Air Force as an experiment sent 12 F-22 fighters from Alaska to the base on Guam Andersen. Rainy weather on the island was a merciless war machines, and it soon became clear that in conditions of high humidity aircraft electronic systems become unstable, and the cooling system of computing components in a humid atmosphere simply refuses to serve. Was corrected this defect is unknown. But it is known that since the F-22 in the more humid climate has never been used.
In the same year, a former Lockheed Martin engineer Derrol Olsen accused the U.S. company in the creation of the defective F-22. According to Olsen, on the F-22 aircraft was applied a few more coats to the fighter could pass all the required tests radar. Marriage lies in the fact that the radio-absorbing coating F-22 easily erased from the fuselage under the influence of water, oil or fuel. At Lockheed Martin Olsen rejected accusations, saying that the production of the aircraft used by a persistent and high-quality radio-absorbing coating.
Beginning in 2012, the U.S. Air Force will spend to upgrade F-22 fighters $ 500 million annually. In particular, the modernization program will begin Increment 3.1, involves the installation of new avionics, avionics and software. Through this program, a fighter learns to map the terrain, choose targets on the ground and apply new bomb SDB. Implementation of the program of modernization Increment 3.2 will begin in 2014. According to unconfirmed reports, as a result of this program, the F-22 will receive the updated software, some new design elements and new computer systems.
Two years earlier, was found a funny problem in the onboard computer, the F-22. In February 2007, the U.S. Air Force for the first time decided to withdraw the F-22 out of the country, surpassing several fighters at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa. The link of the six F-22 ejected from Hawaii, after crossing the 180th meridian — the international date line — fully and partially lost navigation — communication. Air Force Base in Hawaii fighters back, visually following the tanker aircraft. The cause of the problem was a bug in the software, due to which there was a failure in the computer when you change the time.
And these are just the problems, which the Air Force or the U.S. Department of Defense announced officially. In this case, it is possible that there are hidden flaws aircraft. For example, a fault B-2 bombers, which resulted in cracks in the metal panel between the rear of the aircraft engines became known only after the Northrop Grumman engineers have found a way to fix it.
Problems with sophisticated military technology in general are not something extraordinary, as some features of operation can not be taken into account in advance. These "childhood diseases" are eliminated later in the course of use and accounted for more new developments. But in the history of the F-22 is still a lot of unexplained. Because, really, it is not clear why the United States in the case of the Libyan operation suddenly become excuses for the lack of a fighter in the air build coalitions, although in the case of Iraq or Afghanistan, these attempts have been taken.
However, history teaches us that the most advanced and expensive weapons used in conflicts, even very large, in the last instance. The most striking example of this are the British battleship class "Dreadnought" and the German "Nassau". These ships have stood in the ports of registry almost all the First World War and have been used in combat in the last years of the war. March 31, 2011 the U.S. General Accounting Office has announced that the purchase price of one F-22 for the U.S. Air Force is 411.7 million dollars. In total, the U.S. military should get 187 F-22s, 170 of which have already been taken on board.
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