Tag Archives: F-22

Stealthty repairs on the Raptor

Lockheed Martin recently completed repairs on  the first F-22 Raptor at the company’s Inlet Coating Repair (ICR) Speedline facility. The repair is crucial in maintaining the Raptor’s stealthy characteristics.

Periodic maintenance is required to maintain the special exterior coatings that contribute to the F-22’s Very Low Observable (VLO) radar cross-section. The increase in F-22 deployments, including ongoing operational combat missions, has increased the demand for ICR, Lockheed Martin states in a press release.

The US Air Force contracted the company to establish the Speedline in Marietta, Georgia, in August 2016. The first F-22 arrived there in early November.  A second aircraft followed in early December and a third in late January.

Lockheed Martin is on contract to perform this work on a total of 12 aircraft and a follow-on contract is anticipated. Additionally, Lockheed Martin is providing modification support services, analytical condition inspections, radar cross section turntable support and antenna calibration.

Featured image: An F-22 in Marietta. (Image © Lockheed Martin / Andrew McMurtrie)

Raptors visit Europe again, to stay until May

In a surprise move and repeating last year’s visit to Germany,  US Air Force Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptors are seen in European skies again. Four jets arrived at Lakenheath airbase in the UK in the afternoon of Monday 11 April. The jets are here to conduct training with other Europe-based aircraft, said the US Air Force in a statement.

The advanced jets are deployed from the 95th Fighter Squadron at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida. They will continue training until May. In 2015, the first official deployment to Europe took place as four aircraft flew to Spangdahlem in Germany. They remained there for four weeks of flying in the European theater, venturing close to Russia while doing so.

The arrival of the Raptors in the UK comes as a surprise. Upon landing, their visit was first linked with a planned visit of F-22s later this month in France. On 20 April, the US Air Force’s most potent fighter aircraft is scheduled to participate in the 80th anniversary of French Air Force Escadron de Chasse (EC) 2/4, flying Mirages at Istres-Le Tubé airbase in southern France. It remains unclear of the aircraft expected in France, are the same jets now deployed to the UK.

U.S. Air Force photo/ Tech. Sgt. Matthew Plew)
One of the F-22s is seen here with a Lakenheath-based F-15E. (Image © US Air Force / Tech. Sgt. Matthew Plew)

Security package

The US  last week also deployed F-15 Eagles to Europe. They take part in exercise Frisian Flag in the Netherlands, about which an inside report will appear here at Airheadsfly.com very soon. The F-15s will stay in Europe for six months as part of a Theater Security Package.

The F-22 however is a seldom seen sight in Europe. Raptors have on rare occasions used the UK and Spain as stop overs to destinations elsewhere.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): A Raptor four-ship. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

US to base F-35s next to F-22s in Alaska

The US Air Force has selected Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska as a future home for the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II. The base will house two squadrons equipped with the 5th generation fighter aircraft. Alaska, the only US state that borders Russia, already is home to F-22 Raptor jets at Elmendorf Air Force Base near Anchorage.

“The decision to base two F-35 squadrons at Eielson AFB will double our fifth-generation fighter aircraft presence in the Pacific theater,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III. “It’s an exciting time for Pacific airpower.”

Construction

On-base construction to prepare Eielson airbase for the aircraft is expected to start in fiscal year 2017. The first F-35As are currently scheduled to arrive in 2020. The jets will join the F-16 aggressor squadron currently assigned to Eielson AFB.

Overseas

In a press release, the move is described as leading to the “first operational overseas F-35A Lightning IIs”. That would mean the Eielson-based aircraft are to be mission ready before the F-35s that are projected to be based at Lakenheath airbase in the UK, another overseas US airbase planned to operate F-35s in the future.

Meanwhile, the first Air National Guard base to host F-35s, will do so earlier than originally planned. Burlington Air Guard Station in Vermont is now scheduled to receive aircraft in fall 2019.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): An F-35A inflight. (Image © Lockheed Martin)

Raptors join Lightnings at UK Air Tattoo at Fairford

US Air Force F-22 Raptors will join US F-35 Lightning II fighter jets during the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford in July. They are part of the Air Combat Command (ACC) F-22 Raport demo team. According to a posting on the team’s Facebook on Tuesday 23 February, the team will be present in July at Fairford.

The F-22 will join the Lockheed Martin F-35’s announced earlier. The presence of both fifth generation fighter aircraft can without a doubt be regarded as a show of force of advanced Western military firepower. The F-22 has been on display at Fairford before, but never alongside its smaller and newer Lockheed Martin F-35 stablemate.

Dutch airshow

The F-35 should see it’s UK air show debut at Fairford this year, after a ditched attempt in 2014. However, the type’s first ever airshow appearance outside the US should take place at Leeuwarden airbase in the Netherlands in June. A Royal Netherlands Air Force F-35A will cross the Atlantic this spring for what the Dutch call ‘perception flights’, plus the appearance at Leeuwarden.

The F-22 was a rare sight in Europe for many years. That ended with the deployment of four jets to Germany in 2015 as a show of force to Russia.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: An F-22 Raptor heads for the skies. (Image © Airman 1st Class Amanda Morris / USAF) 

US Theater Security Packages by the numbers

An informative infographic released on Wednesday 6 January by US Air Force in Europe (USAFE) gives more details about the three Theater Security Packages that deployed from the US to Europe in 2015. Most impressive number: 26 nations saw ‘support’ from those packages.

The Pentagon announced the first Theater Security Package (TSP) to Europe early last year as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve. The move of sending fighter aircraft to Europe was a clear reponse to Russia’s attitude over the Baltics and Ukraine in particular.

Thunderbolts

The first TSP consisted of twelve A-10C Thunderbolts from Davis Monthan Air Force Base and arrive at Spangdahlem airbase in Germany on 13 February. See Airheadsfly.com’s report on their arrival here. The attack aircraft and their crews visited numerous European countries during their six month stay.

Spangdahlem-based F-16Cs chase this Davis Monthan A-10 down to the runway. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Spangdahlem-based F-16Cs chase this Davis Monthan A-10 down to the runway. (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Eagles

April saw twelve US Air National Guard F-15 Eagles arrive in Europe for participation in various exercises. Airheadsfly.com’s interview with their commanding officer is here. In September, the third TSP crossed the Atlantic, again consisting of A-10C Thunderbolts.

The deployment of four F-22 Raptors to Germany in August formally never was a full TSP. The sending of those aircraft perhaps gave a stronger message than the three TSPs combined, however.

In 2016, more TSPs are scheduled according to US officials. A batch of F-15s is expected to participate in various military exercises.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: One of the US Eagles in Europe in 2015 (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Two engines, more noise. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Two engines, more noise. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Four F-22s about to overfly Spangdahlem for a historic deployment. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Four F-22s about to overfly Spangdahlem for a historic deployment. (Image © Elmer van Hest)