1998 Cover Story
|"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.
"The F-22 wont just defend our airspace it will allow us to dominate the other guys 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 thats not good enough.
"Youve got to be dominant."
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."
The F-22s "integrated avionics" operate the crafts 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 pilots questions," explained cockpit team manager Ken Thomas in Flying Safetys 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.
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 doesnt 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-22s 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.
Flight Test Center
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