0:40 AMHow F/A-22 Raptors Work
Flying Video Game: In the Cockpit
In the F/A-22 computer screens display all information -- it's the first so-called "all-glass cockpit" in a tactical fighter. These digital displays have been common in commercial aircraft for years.
The cockpit is fitted with a hands-on throttle and stick control (HOTAS). This system allows the pilot to fly the plane without removing his or her hands from the flight controls. The F/A-22 also has the first cockpit system compatible with night vision goggles (NVG). Aheads-up display (HUD) projects information in front of the pilot's view, showing target status, weapon status and cues that indicate if the weapons are locked on the target. The pilot inputs information for communications, autopilot and navigation in the integrated control panel (ICP) in the center top of the instrument panel.
Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force/Kevin Robertson
The cockpit has six liquid crystal displays (LCDs). The primary display is an 8-inch by 8-inch (20.3x20.3-cm) LCD that provides a plan view of the air and ground tactical situation. This includes threat identity, threat priority and tracking information. Two smaller displays show communication, navigation, identification and flight information. Three secondary displays show air-threat, ground-threat and stores-management data.
The goal is to make it simple for the pilot to process all the information being displayed. The pilot can tell at a glance what the situation is: Enemy aircraft show up as red triangles; friendly aircraft are green circles; unknown aircraft are yellow squares; surface-to-air missiles are pentagons. To show that a pilot has a lock on the target, the red triangle becomes solid. The system is 98 percent accurate in determining the type of aircraft flying in range. If the system can't make identification, then the aircraft is shown as an unknown.
With all that technology onboard, the F/A-22s can create a wireless data link to share tactical information without talking about it on the radio. A pilot can know how much fuel and how many weapons a wingman is carrying while maintaining radio silence. Multiple flights of planes can link up to coordinate attacks because each plane can see which targets others have identified. The F/A-22 can also communicate with Airborne Warning & Control System (AWACS) aircraft and receive downloads from reconnaissance planes.
The radar system gives the F/A-22 first-look, first-shot, first-kill capability. That means it can see an enemy plane first, fire a missile and destroy the target without the other pilot ever knowing about it.
The AN/APG-77 radar was developed specifically for the F/A-22. It uses an active, electronically scanned antenna array of 2,000 transmitter/receiver modules. The radar provides pilots with detailed information about multiple threats before the adversary's radar ever detects the F/A-22.
Also, the radar can jam enemy electronics systems and communicate voice and data information over a secure link.
To detect enemy activity, the F/A-22 carries a radar warning receiver and a missile-launch detector. If an enemy locks on with a heat-seeking or radar-guided missile, the F/A-22 can launch countermeasures. It releases flares to confuse heat seekers and sends out chaff, small pieces of reflective material, to disperse radar waves and confuse a radar-guided missile's tracking system.
All of this technology serves one purpose: to deliver the F/A-22's weapons to the target.
Like other stealth aircraft, the F/A-22 can carry weapons inside the fuselage. The main weapons bay can carry six radar-guided AIM-120C medium-range air-to-air missiles. If the mission includes ground attack, two 1,000-pound GBU-32 Joint Direct Attack Munitionsreplace four of the AIM-120Cs. Two small bays on each side of the aircraft hold two heat-seeking AIM-9 Sidewinder short-range air-to-air missiles. Hidden behind a stealth door above the right air intake is the M61A2 20-mm multibarrel cannon. It holds 480 rounds of 20-mm ammunition and feeds the gun at a rate of 100 rounds per second.
When stealth is not a requirement, the F/A-22 can carry weapons and fuel tanks under the wings.
Photo courtesy DOD/Air Force Flight Test Center/Kevin Robertson
Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, VA, was the first to operate the Raptor in late 2004. It is scheduled to remain in service through 2040.
For much more information on the F/A-22 and other military aircraft, check out the links on the next page.
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