If the F-22 Raptor went into maximum weapon configuration, what would that look like? Pilots and crew from two squadrons of the 1st Fighter Wing based out of Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia decided to find out how many air-to-air missiles the F-22 could fire in training. While pushing the limit during an exercise, a pilot and ground crew hustled to load and shoot 28 air-to-air missiles from a single F-22 during a weapons test in September.
F-22: Blowing Away the Previous Record
Twenty-eight missiles is more than the record of 22 set in 2014 with an F-22 that flew out of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska. The pilot and weapons team participating in the 28-missile record-breaking action came from two units – the 94th Fighter Squadron and 94th Fighter Generation Squadron. These squadrons were part of an exercise called the Weapons System Evaluation Program at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida.
This Many Missiles Is Unheard Of
Staff Sgt. Edgar Baez-Lopez, an aircraft armament systems craftsman with the 94th Fighter Generation Squadron said this shows that his team is ready for battle and the competition is a healthy activity for pilots and weapons and ammunition technicians to simulate combat situations at the top of their game. But Baez-Lopez admitted that 28 missiles is “unheard of.”
Multi-million Dollar Live Fire
Making the F-22 into an air-to-air missile truck took some creativity by the team. They had to use both internal weapons bays and several hard points to outfit the F-22 with 28 missiles of the Sidewinder and AMRAAM variety. These munitions were worth $14 million. The beast mode F-22 also displayed excellence with its 20mm six-barrel Gatling-style gun and the M61A2 Vulcan.
Excellent Teamwork On Display
Senior Master Sgt. Jared Robinson said his crew worked hard to maintain high levels of teamwork and flexibility. They were able to provide heightened levels of communication between the operations side and the maintenance side of the squadron.
Ready for “Day Three” Warfare
One issue the F-22 would have in such a maximum missile configuration is that the missiles on the wing hardpoints would increase the radar cross-section and perhaps decrease the level of stealthiness. The F-22 could in this maximum weapons mode still take out many enemy airplanes after air dominance has been achieved. This is the so-called “Day Three” of warfare after the enemy’s anti-air systems including radars, air defense missiles, gun systems, and enemy aircraft are eliminated. In this scenario maximum stealth would not be needed, the F-22 could patrol the skies and escort bombers or look for enemy fighters to destroy unabated. The F-22 could rely on its superior dogfighting skills with plenty of air-to-air missiles.
Do They Have What It Takes?
F-22 squadrons train with munitions on a regular basis, but they don’t actually participate in live fire exercises with little prior warning. The Weapons System Evaluation Program is the chance for crew and pilots to show what they can do in a real combat simulation. The personnel also practice safety procedures that would be required in a real-world scenario. These types of exercises and record-breaking improve a unit’s morale and give it confidence should the F-22 require extra heft during combat situations. We can be sure that the F-22 is ready for battle when the pilot and ground crew are pushed beyond their limits in these types of record-breaking battle drills. Let’s see if the Air Force personnel are interested in eclipsing this record with other fighters.
F-22 Photos From Around the World
Expert Biography: Serving as 1945’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations.
October 17, 2022 at 9:08 pm