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The Lockheed F22 Air Superiority Fighter

The Lockheed F-22 program manager, AI Pruden, describes how the Lockheed-Boeing-General Dynamics team met or exceeded all the Air Force requirements for the next-generation air-superiority fighter. From the beginning, the plan was to build a prototype that represented very high aerodynamic fidelity with the production aircraft, reducing the risk for engineering and manufacturing development and providing a high level of confidence to the Air Force.

As we move into the 21st century, the requirement for air superiority over potential battlefields or areas of crises and conflict remains a critical part of our nation's security.

Since World War I, the USAF has been charged with that task and has executed the demanding requirement in a very effective manner. In World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, and several other smaller excursions, our ground and sea forces have been provided an air-superiority umbrella.

Ground commanders have been able to plan and execute their missions without regard for attack from enemy air. The most recent example of the value of air superiority is, of course, Desert Storm. Here, our ground forces were able to roll to their objectives, achieve victory, and end hostilities in less than i oo hours -an amazing feat considering the size and potential of the Baghdad-controlled ground army and air forces facing Allied Forces. Their success was mainly due to the air campaign conducted prior to start of the ground attack.

The USAF and Allies' success in battle, their ability to rapidly gain control of the air over Iraq and Kuwait, and their action to bring the full impact of our air-to-ground attack force to bear was due to the commitment over 20 years ago to develop and deploy the current air-superiority fighter, the F-15. There were, of course, the normal detractors and "nay sayers" then as there are today, but none can dispute the wisdom of that action, nor the savings in lives and equipment that resulted from the decision to put air superiority as priority one.

Lockheed YF-22 prototype

The F-15 was first deployed in the early-to-mid 1970s. At the turn of the century, it will be over 25 years old. At the beginning of the decade of the 1990s, it is still the world's best, but there are other aircraft that are practically equal such as the SU-27 Flanker, MIG-29 Fulcrum, and others that are available to anybody with money enough to buy them. By 2001, the F-15 will be outdated and "outclassed" on the modern battlefield. Even today, advances in world technology could seriously hamper their operation in some areas of potential conflict. It is not possible to predict, in today's turbulent geopolitical environment, just where in the world U.S. interests could lead to the employment of force; but we know from history that it may well occur. It is also a fact that, in some cases, just the deterrent value of dominating fighter performance and lethality could lessen the need to resort to actual use of force. The F-22 is such a weapons system. lf force were necessary, the ability of the F- 22 to totally dominate the air battle and provide that air-superiority umbrella would save friendly lives and help bring quick victory.

Nearly six years ago, the Air Force leadership realized the future need and started development of the next-generation air-superiority fighter, referred to as the Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF). The aerospace industry was asked to participate in an unprecedented program of demonstration and validation of a system and technology to be fielded in the late iggos. Analyzing stated Air Force requirements, Lockheed, its teammates, and others began a long and detailed process to define the Advanced Tactical Fighter. The candidates were required to search for and demonstrate many advances in technologies, performance, and capability beyond today's front-line weapon systems. The ATF would have to be affordable, using technology that would be ready for low-risk Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) in 1991.

The Air Force required a supercruise capability (supersonic cruise without use of afterburner) coupled with long range, extreme agility and, above all, survivability and lethality far beyond today's systems. A "first-look/first-klll" capability was a must. In the offensive counter-air part of the Air Force air-superiority mission, the aircraft would be required to penetrate enemy defenses without massive supporting forces and conduct its mission deep inside enemy territory to seek out and destroy the enemy air capability. It must be able not only to defeat enemy aircraft in aerial engagements, but also to penetrate groundto-air defenses in the conduct of its missions. That required a very significant step forward in fighter aircraft design and mission performance.

The Lockheed history of meeting demanding challenges for advanced design of aircraft and systems is well known to many in the Defense Department, present and past. It seems only months ago that the F- 117 was taxied in front of an awestruck crowd at NellIS AFB, Nevada, and exposed to the world's eyes. And then, a few months later, Bernard Shaw and Peter Arnett, from their Baghdad hotel window, informed everyone live on CNN of the exceptionally devastating accuracy of the F- 117 and its integrated weaponsdelivery system. On some amazing video tapes, one can see the air defenses of Baghdad firing wildly into the night sky, with no target, no direction, and virtually no hope of hitting the F- 117.

To many at Lockheed, those tapes represented final proof of the leverage stealth brings to the battlefield after years of effort and evolution of theory and design. Cheers were not only for the performance of our fighter air crews as they executed their missions but also for the obvious capability of the systems they were operating. Many in public life and the press were surprised at the performance, but not those who had been involved in nearly three decades of low-observable research, design, and manufacturing at Lockheed. From the SR-71 of the 1960s, through today's F- 117, and now the next-generation F-22 (ATF) for the 21st century, Lockheed has been a major player in the technological evolution of stealth and other advanced aircraft design and mission capabilities. The unique capabilities of the F-22, such as stealth design, supercruise, weapons load, agility, advanced avionics, and a "first look/first kill" capability, all combine to make the F-22 an unprecedented system that is both survivable and highly lethal.

Another F-22 requirement is to have a low life-cycle cost by minimizing its logistics tall. It requires only a fraction of the ground support and spares required for today's aircraft. Design efforts toward improved supportability and reduced cost has resulted in the near-elimination of wing-level maintenance shops and personnel. With only a couple of exceptions, such as battery and tire shops, all maintenance on the F-22 is either on the plane" or at depot level. Ground-support equipment, not needed for the F-22, adds to the already overworked airlift when a deployment situation occurs. Once required to deploy, the F-22 uses far fewer tankers because of its extended-range capability. This saving in airlift and tankers can be dramatic. For example, a squadron Of 24 F-15 s would require 18 C-141s and 399 support personnel. On the same trip, an F-22 squadron would only need 8 C-141s and 258 support personnel; the reduction in tankers for aerial refueling is equally dramatic, the actual number depending on the distance traveled on deployment.

Compared to the F-15c, today's air superiority fighter, the F-22 provides a ioo-percent increase in combat rate, a 5o-percent increase in sortie-generation rate, a 3o-percent decrease in combat turn time, a 5o-percent reduction in direct maintenance manpower required for a combat turn, a 6o-percent decrease in direct maintenance manhours per flight hour, and a 65-percent decrease in mobility airlift. These impressive improvements in F-22 supportability are achieved by such things as OBOGS (on-board oxygen generation system), OBIGGS (on-board inert gas generating system), an internal auxiliary power unit, and many other advances in "ease-of-maintenance" design. The avionic modules are all accessible from ground level. Highly reliable, modern-technology systems provide unprecedented reliability and reduce the need for extensive winglevel maintenance shops and personnel.

The advantage in these savings and increased performance is even more obvious and mandatory in view of today's budget projections.

During the flying phase of the Demonstration/Validation (Dem/Val) program in late 1990, the YF-22 prototype demonstrated amazing aero performance. This included supercruise (cruising well above Mach One without use of afterburner); full-scale polemodel validation of its stealth design; weapons integration and missile firing from internal bays with no problems; thrust vectoring; and, first-ever maneuvering at very high angles of attack. The YF-22, using advanced flight controls integrated with thrust vectoring, demonstrated positive control at angles of attack exceeding 6odegrees alpha. This revolutionary agilility will give the F-22 fighter pilot another unmatched capability that will add maneuver-dominance in any situation where its beyond-visual-range (BVR) capability has not prevailed.

As a part of Dem/Val, a high-fidelity full-scale pole model was built for radar-cross-section (RCS) measurements. This model was highly detailed with moveable control surfaces, avionic apertures, and engine components. The model was first tested by Lockheed and adequately compared to expectations. The Air Force then conducted independent tests on their ranges and found that their results tracked perfectly with Lockheed's tests, clearly demonstrating the F-22'S low-observable characteristics.

Air superiority early in the 21st century requires more than impressive aero performance and low observability. In addition to a balanced design of stealth and high performance, the F-22 will have a fully integrated avionics system, which will provide the pilot information required for decisionmaking and task-management without burdening him with labor-lntensive system operation and mental integration. Fused information, from all sensors, coupled with enhanced HOTAS (hands on throttle and stick) controls will greatly increase the F-22 fighter pilot's ability to maintain situation awareness-critical to successful combat engagements. The highly reliable, fault- tolerant system will also allow rapid mission turnarounds, high sortie rates, and long periods of operation in an austere environment with minimal maintenance and support.

The basis for the significant improvements in capabilities for the F-22 avionics over currently fielded systems is the fully integrated core architecture and the very-high-speed integrated circuit (VHSIC) technology using Ada software throughout for high-speed signal and data processing. The heart of this integrated avionics system is the common integrated processor, together with a software-driven mission avionics system, which not only does enhanced signal processing but also rapidly integrates large volumes of data from multiple sensors and provides the pilot with a complete picture of his surroundings. The total available signal- and dataprocessing performance is massive: over 350 mips (million instructions per second) of general-purpose processing and nine BOPS (billion operations per second) of parallel, programmable signal processing throughput. This is roughly equivalent to the combined capability of nine Cray computers. In addition, routine cockpit functions are appropriately automated to reduce workload while providing the pilot with full insight into system operation and optional control independent of all system functions.

Some of the technologies that make these improvements in integrated system operation possible include:

  • Multi-function, flat-panel, color displays that allow the pilot to select the display to be used and the level of detail to be displayed.

  • Pictorial representations and clear symbol shapes convey information on threats and targets, system status, and friendly support forces. Clear color displays reinforce the identification of enemy, unknown. and friendly forces, as well as providing an indication of the relative importance of the information being provided.

  • A high-powered radar with an active, electronically scanned array (ESA) antenna provides the capability to direct the radar beam nearly instantaneously anywhere within the radar field of regard. Multiple, hybrid transmit-and- receive modules provide for operation over a wide range of frequencies, as well as a graceful degradation in performance in case of individual module failures.

  • The integrated communication, navigation, and identification avionics use multi-function antennas and shared assets to provide multiple integrated communication and navigation functions. Integrated electronic combat avionics use multi-function apertures and shared assets to perform multiple functions of radar-track warning, missile-launch detection, and threat identification. This information from all sensors is sorted, fused, and presented to the fighter pilot in a simple, easily assimilated format that reduces his workload and lets him concentrate on tactics rather than "switchology" and system operation.

  • The extensive use of multi-function apertures, common data-processing modules, high-speed fiber-optic data buses, and built-in test (BIT) and fault diagnostics supports the concept of a highly reliable, fault-tolerant avionics system. The use of common dataprocessing modules throughout the system provides functional redundancy and automatic system reconfiguration during peak loading and component failures. They also reduce system lifecycle costs by reducing the requirement for spares and attendant logistic support.

The avionics architecture and basic system operations were demonstrated during Dem/Val in our avionics ground prototype. We put that avionics system in our avionics flying test bed, a Boeing 757, and demonstrated fusing data and avionics integration.

Some of the most advanced technology in the F-22 can be found in the electronic combat suite that will provide offensive and defensive information, warn the pilot of threats, and apply countermeasures to shield the aircraft from enemy detection and attack. The avionics suite and apertures, including electronic combat, were a fundamental consideration in the balanced design of the aircraft, not simply a secondary consideration after aerodynamic and propulsion design.

The F-22 electronic combat system builds on technology developed by the Sanders/General Electric integrated electronic warfare System (INEWS) joint venture team. The system provides multi-spectral warning and countermeasures that enhance survivability of the F-22 operating against future threats. The common integrated processor in the F-22 will allow sharing of target and signal-detection information picked up by other avionics sensors to enhance threat detection, assessment, and countermeasures decisions.

It is given that any aircraft whose mission requires penetration must have inherent survivability. Certainly the F- 22's stealth design, integrated avionics to enhance pilot situation awareness, fully "designed in" countermeasures, speed, and agility combine to give it unprecedented survivability. It will be able to fly through, over, and around enemy ground-to-alr and air-to-air defenses to a degree never before achieved. But, it has much more than just passive survivability -it's lethal! Using stealth as a lethal adjunct, the F-22 will use its advanced, high-technology sensor system, impressive weapons array, and maneuverabilicy to ensure detection and destruction of enemy airprobably before they even know the F-22 is there. That's what "first look/ first kill" is all about. And, if necessary, the F-22 can also close with, outmaneuver, and destroy any current or projected threat aircraft in the visual arena. Realistic and demanding analyses and simulations have projected an exchange ratio much greater than that of the F-I5 against current and future threat aircraft.

The four-year Dem/Val program was initiated by the Air Force along the lines of the Packard Commission recommendations to build prototypes, hardware, and software to demonstrate reduced technical risk and determine realistic, achievable requirements. Advanced technologies had to be demonstrated and matured to be ready for a low-risk Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) program in 1991.

Each of the two competing teams built two prototypes, one of which had a set of two engines from General Electric and the other from Pratt & Whitney. The Lockheed team was very pleased with the success of our riskreduction efforts and believe that was a significant factor in our being selected for the EMD program.

In addition to very impressive aerodynamic achievements, the F-22 team reduced the EMD technical risk in a number of other important areas including thrust vectoring, avionics-processing architecture and integration, Ada software development, and the multi-functional early warning arrays.

We have started EMD. We have every confidence in our ability to accomplish thC EMD program the Air Force wants. This program is probably better planned than most if not all FSD/EMD programs currently in progress.

Part of our high level of confidence is based on the similarity between the YF-22 prototype and the production F- 22. From the beginning, the Lockheed team planned to build a prototype for Dem/Val that represented very good aerodynamic fidelity with the proposed production aircraft. We achieved that goal. In the F-22 program it's truly a case of "what you see is what you get." This reduces risk for EMD, provides a high level of confidence to the Air Force, and assures that we are on track with the next-generation fighter for the turn of the century.

ALBERT L. PRUDEN, JR. was named to his present position as Lockbeed F-22 Program Manager in December 1990. Prior to his current assignment he held the position of Director, Systems Engineering and Requirements, Pruden joined the Lockheed Aeronautical Systems Company in April 1986, after having served 30 years (1955 to 1986) in the U. S. Air Force where he achieved the rank of Brigadier General.

During the Vietnam conflict heflew 233 combat missions in two tours of duty. Altogetber, be has flown more than 5.000 hours in jet fighter aircraft. Pruden's last assignment in the Air Force was as Director of Aerospace Safety, Headquarters Air Force Inspection and Safety Center, Norton Air Force Base, California.

Among his decorations are the Distinguisbed Service Medal, Legion of Merit with one oak leaf cluster, and the Distinguished Flying Cross. In 1979, Queen Juliana of the Netherlands named him a Commander in the Order of Orange-Nassau.

Born in Rolesville, North Carolina, in 1934, Pruden was graduated from North Carolina State University in 1955 with a bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering. He earned a master's degree in business managementfrom New Mexico Highlands University in 1977. Pruden also graduatedfrom the Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, in 1966 and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in 1973.

Interested in reading more on the changing battlefield? Go to:

Air Doctrine for the 21st Century

Battlefield of the Future

Principles of War for the Battlefield of the Future

F22: First Flight of the Raptor!

Modernizing US Tactical Aviation for Air Dominance

Sea Control: Submarines or Air Power?

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Last Updated November 1st, 1997

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