About Edwards - History
F-22 Raptor "Bird of Prey"

April 1998 Cover Story
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"Throughout history, soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen have learned one extremely valuable lesson relative to engagement with an opposing force. That is, if you can analyze, act, and assess faster than your opponent, you will win." General Ronald R. Fogleman, Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force

Fifty years ago, a military propagandist stated, "He who controls the information runs the show." And as we approach the 21st century, the acquisition and management of vast amounts of information becomes more necessary to success in any field.

During wartime, information is especially critical. The loss of American lives in combat is not an option. For the Air Force, the only answer to this problem is complete superiority in the air.

F-22"The F-22 won’t just defend our airspace – it will allow us to dominate the other guy’s airspace and take away his sanctuaries," said Gen. Ronald R. Fogleman, Air Force Chief of Staff. "When somebody talks about parity in the air-to-air business, they do not understand that’s not good enough.

"You’ve got to be dominant."

Information management
Military strategists took information delivery and management very seriously when designing the next century fighter plane to replace the F-15 as America's front line air dominance fighter. In addition to the latest technological gains in low observables, avionics, materials, engine performance and aerodynamic design, the aircraft of the future needed to possess a superior information delivery system rivaled by no other.

Enter the F-22 Raptor – a combat machine that is as much supercomputer as it is aircraft.

Like some futuristic artificial intelligence that once existed only in the imagination, the F-22 collects, processes and delivers vital information at the exact moment it is needed by the pilot.

"All of the sensor information has been fused into a single picture for the pilot," said Lt. Col. Steve Rainey, who has brought the F-22 to Edwards Air Force Base for testing this month. "Information is what is going to be the key to success on the battlefield."

New role
Suddenly, the fighter pilot becomes a "mission manager," basing his decisions on the sensory information being delivered to him by the aircraft. This is dramatically different than his previous role as a skilled "sensor operator," trained to react intuitively to air combat situations.

The F-22’s "integrated avionics" operate the craft’s sensors, within the limits set by the pilot. "Integrated" means the F-22 can take information from many sources, compare that information and determine a single consistent picture of the world around the pilot.

"The pilot commands information, and the system picks the sensors to answer the pilot’s questions," explained cockpit team manager Ken Thomas in Flying Safety’s August 1997 issue.

"The time available to make a decision determines the quality of information required," he added.

The design of the F-22 frees pilots from being "sensor operators" and "housekeepers," and allows them to tackle the real job at hand – combat.

As a result, F-22 pilots will need to be trained as thoroughly in managing information as they are in flying. In combat, the mastery of that information will definitively win the airspace – and the war.

It demonstrates what is possible when human potential is integrated into the aircraft.

Dramatic change
"Integrated avionics" is a revolutionary concept that has arisen from our current Information Age. It changes the playing field so dramatically that it has been likened by some to the transition from propeller-driven to jet-powered aircraft.

Just like the personal computer on your desktop, the equipment on the F-22 has been built to be "upgradeable." F-22s collect their data through on-board and off-board sensors and are "networked" to share information with one another by means of the Inter/Intra Flight Data Link.

The contrast between the old and new ways of flying is illustrated by a function we can all relate to: the radio.

An F-22 doesn’t have a "radio" in the traditional sense. It has a Common Integrated Processor module – basically a software program – that performs the function of a radio. If that module fails, one of the other modules will automatically reload the software and take over the radio function – thus making it fault tolerant. Multiply that ability to self-correct through every function on the aircraft, and the picture of the F-22’s infallibility broadens.

Knowledge gained from proven weapon systems such as the F-15, F-16 and F-117 formed the foundation for F-22 development.

Add into the equation cutting-edge technologies such as supercruise, thrust vectoring and enhanced agility – in addition to the proven concepts of stealth and low observability – and you have an aircraft that is truly revolutionary.


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