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F-22 Raptor: Edwards begins flight testing

July 1998
Desert Wings

The F-22 Raptor added another page to Edwards AFB’s long history of aviation milestones in May when it resumed active flight testing.

Lt. Col. Steve Rainey, operations officer for the F-22 Combined Test Force, piloted the craft. He is the first Air Force pilot to fly the F-22 since it rolled off the Lockheed Martin Aeronautical Systems assembly line in Marietta, Ga., last summer.

"The aircraft handled like a dream," Rainey said. "It’s the best flying aircraft I have flown, and it sets a new standard of excellence in fighter aviation."

The goal of the test flight was to evaluate three aircraft qualities: flying qualities envelope expansion, speedbrake handling qualities and formation flying qualities. Rainey said each of the three test points was flown precisely as briefed and that the flight was a successful test mission.

The Raptor was shipped to Edwards aboard a C-5 aircraft in February. It arrived without a number of major components attached in order to facilitate shipment and to enable completion of planned upgrades prior to flight testing.

Some of the work the F-22 CTF performed to reassemble and upgrade the F-22 includes: reattaching the wings, horizontal and vertical stabilizers, movable surfaces, engines, weapons bay door systems, canopy, nose section and landing gear; completing five major upgrades to the aircraft; Auxiliary Power Unit runs; and engine runs.

Currently, the F-22 CTF includes personnel from Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Pratt and Whitney, the 412th Test Wing and the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center. The CTF is formed into integrated product teams to maximize efficiency. Responsibilities are shared to minimize duplication of effort, with contractor and government personnel working together.

"All CTF activities are based on unprecedented levels of teamwork," said Jim Pape, deputy director of the F-22 CTF.

The sortie marked the Raptor’s entry into formal flight test. Raptor 01, the call sign of the aircraft at Edwards, is the first of three engineering and manufacturing development F-22s that will be used to test flying qualities and explore the edges of the aircraft’s operational envelope.

This first aircraft, officially referred to as Aircraft 4001, will undergo about 50 test flights prior to delivery of the second aircraft. Aircraft 4002 is now in preparation for its first flight at Lockheed Martin in Georgia. It is scheduled for delivery to Edwards this fall.

The F-22 is the most advanced fighter in the world, combining a revolutionary leap in technology and capability with reduced support requirements and maintenance costs. It is destined to replace the F-15 as America’s front-line air superiority fighter.

The F-22’s combination of stealth, integrated avionics, maneuverability, and supercruise (supersonic flight without afterburner) will give Raptor pilots a first-look, first-shot, first-kill capability against the aircraft of any potential enemy.

The F-22 on its first test flight at Edwards. Below lies Rogers Dry Lake and base facilities. (Photo courtesy of the F-22 Team)

(Article compiled by the AFFTC Public Affairs staff)


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