By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
Above, at Hickam Air Force Base, the press was briefed
on the F-22 Raptor and its capabilities. The Air Force calls
it the world's first stealth air-to-air fighter. Lt. Col. Wayne
Wakeman of the Hawaii Air National Guard tries the flight
simulator for the F-22. Dick Mather from Lockheed Martin
Aeronautical Systems is showing him how it performs.
Isle pilots train
on simulator for
The stealth F-22 Raptor isBy Gregg K. Kakesako
being hailed by its builder as
the premier jet fighter of
the 21st century
The Pacific Air Force yesterday unveiled its newest jet fighter: the Lockheed Martin-built F-22 Raptor.
Actually, one didn't roll to the Hickam Air Force Base flight line since only two have been built and are still undergoing extensive testing at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.
Instead, its developers have brought a cockpit demonstrator to Hawaii to give Air Force and Hawaii Air National Guard officials an update on what Bob Martin, F-22 president and general manager at Lockheed, described as "the premier fighter of any air force for the 21st century."
The Air Force has ordered 339 and hopes to have a combat operational squadron by 2005. At more than $85 million an aircraft, it will be the nation's most expensive aircraft program, surpassing the Navy's McDonald Douglas F/A-18EF Super Hornet modernization.
A publicity photo of the new F-22 Raptor in flight.
But Dick Mather, a former F-15 jet fighter pilot and now business development manager at Lockheed, said the cost of developing an aircraft from the ground up is well worth it.
He described the Raptor as "a first look, first shot, first kill" fighter.
"The idea is to put a missile against an enemy aircraft before he can see you," Mather said.
As part of the Air Force's new air expeditionary force, Joseph Oberle, a director of a Raptor development program, said the F-22 is "light, lean and lethal."
Referring to a typical F-15 Eagle squadron, which the Raptor would replace, Oberle said it would take nearly half of the transport cargo planes and personnel to deploy an F-22 squadron into battle.
Maj. Bruce "Hoops" Ellwein, an F-15 fighter pilot, said the F-22 also has integrated avionics which combines into seven multicolor liquid crystal color display screens the more than 40 dials and mechanical gauges now found in an F-15.
"The pilot now can become a tactician," Ellwein said. "It's much easier to fly. You don't have to be constantly scanning your instruments in the cockpit."
Oberle said the stealth F-22 also has supercruise which allows the fighter to fly at supersonic speed without afterburners, conserving fuel.
Its stealth design means that there are no rocket pods or bombs hanging from the wings of the fighter allowing it exceed Mach 1.5. Mather wouldn't say what the actual altitude capabilities and speed of the fighter are.
Lt. Col. Wayne Wakeman, commander of the Hawaii Air National Guard's 199th Fighter Squadron, was one of the pilots to try his skills at "flying" the F-22 yesterday.
None of the initial F-22 Raptors are programmed to enter the Air Force Reserve or Air National Guard combat systems.
Wakeman said, however, the transition will mean that Hawaii's squadron of 15 F-15s -- some of them more than 20 years old -- will be replaced with newer versions.
Wakeman said he was impressed with the Raptor's stealth, supercruise and agility capabilities.
"Saving all the gas," Wakeman said, "means you can increase combat time. With stealth, that means you have the upper hand."
And who knows, Wakeman mused: "No one can predict the future. We might just get some of them."
Function: Multimission jet fighter
Length: 62 feet 1 inch
Wingspan: 44 feet, 6 inches
Height: 16 feet, 5 inches
Ceiling and weight: Classified
Armament: Six radar guided air-to-air missiles; two 1,000-pound bombs; two heat-seeking air-to-air missiles; on 20mm multi-barrel cannon
Planned production: 339
In service: 2005