Tuesday, April 19, 2005


It is looking more like the Air Force will get enough F-22 Raptors for two wings and training/spare aircraft. And we are looking into reopening the F-15 assembly line.

This is what I called for two years ago (scroll down to July 31, 2002).

It makes sense. Our strength is our system: pilots, training, tactics, command and control, refueling, and all the doodads that make our Air Force more than a description of the most advanced plane in it. New F-15s with modern avionics and missiles would do great against any opponent. The Raptors are a hedge against uncertainty ten or twenty years down the line.

The technology is pretty darned fragile if you ask me (from the Times):

Recently, a Raptor training flight was delayed for a day when a faulty sensor was discovered on one of the two planes now housed at the base. The replacement took only a few hours, but because it involved removing a panel on the jet's outer surface, part of the plane had to be repainted in Daig's shop and allowed to dry overnight. Any such piercing of the plane's smooth exterior must be carefully repaired, including applying a new coat of paint, to ensure it retains the stealth quality that lets it avoid radar detection.

Good grief, opening a friggin' panel requires a repainting? Overnight? Reopen the F-15 line. The F-22 is good once its gets in the air, but we need something more reliable for daily use. The Raptor will be best for planned high-risk missions in high-threat areas.

And for God's sake, stop calling them F/A-22s. I still get the image of Me-262s with bomb bays added to turn a superb fighter into a crappy bomber. Leave the bomb hauling to the rest of the Air Force. The F-35, for example. The Raptor is a plane killer. Leave it that way.