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F/A-22 passes initial operational test, evaluation

By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Feb. 01, 2005) -- The results of a recently released Air Force study bode well for the future of the F/A-22 Raptor, officials said.

The Raptor demonstrated “overwhelmingly effective” warfighting capability according to the initial operational test and evaluation report released by Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center officials at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.

Every new system the Air Force acquires must undergo testing by the center, the service’s independent testing agency. Testing for the F/A-22 began in late April and was conducted primarily at the Nevada Test and Training Range. Additional tests were performed in simulators at a facility in Marietta, Ga., officials said.

The tests are done to determine both the operational effectiveness and the suitability of the weapons system. The tests assess four critical issues identified by the warfighter: lethality, survivability, deployability, and maintainability.

The determination of an aircraft’s operational effectiveness is based on the aircraft’s combat capability, officials said. During this testing, the Air Force flew as many as four F/A-22s in a variety of airborne simulated combat scenarios.

According to the report, the F/A-22 performed more than two times better than the F-15C Eagle aircraft in similar tests. Additionally, the report states no adversary aircraft survived engagement with the F/A-22. For operational performance, the report deemed the Raptor “effective.”

“The Raptor operated against all adversaries with virtual impunity,” said Maj. Gen. Richard B.H. "Rick" Lewis, Air Force program executive officer for the F/A-22. “The ground-based systems couldn’t engage the Raptor, and no adversary aircraft survived. That is air dominance, and that’s exactly what the Raptor was designed to give us.”

The F/A-22 scored slightly less in the way of suitability. The center rated the aircraft “potentially suitable.” Suitability tests rate the ease at which the aircraft can be deployed and maintained.

The center identified a number of suitability deficiencies in the F/A-22, which Air Force officials said they are already working to correct.

Air Force officials said the rating indicates the progress the aircraft continues to make as it goes to initial operational capability.

This December, the Raptor is expected to reach initial operational capability, which is the ability to conduct combat operations worldwide.