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Raptor completes avionics testing, advances to next phase of acquisition

by Christopher Ball
95th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

9/13/2005 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFPN) -- The F/A-22 Raptor recently finished avionics engineering manufacturing development testing here and surpassed 2,592 flight hours, pushing the aircraft one step closer to taking its place as the premier weapon system of the U.S. Air Force.

"This mission-avionics testing tied in system effectiveness, military utility (reliability, maintainability and supportability) and fire control (bombs and missiles)," said Donald Blanton, Lockheed Martin's F/A-22 Avionics Flight Test senior manager. "The only outstanding work left in engineering development is flight science envelope expansion -- working the corners of the envelope -- which is scheduled to be completed by the end of September.”

During EMD testing, a phase of program acquisition, the F/A-22 test force conducted developmental and operational testing in conjunction to preserve cost and stay on schedule, said Tony Auvil, F/A-22 mission-avionics chief.

"The F/A-22 is now able to start follow-on operational test and evaluation and force development evaluation,” he said.

These activities are the final steps to initial operational capability which is scheduled for the end of this year.

"This is a big step," Mr. Blanton said. "After (initial operational capability), Air Combat Command can assign the Raptor an operational mission, providing a new tool in the warfighter's arsenal."

The F/A-22 test force has not only accomplished what it set out to do -- develop the premier air-to-air superiority fighter -- but it has kept pace with the changing threats by incorporating a real air-to-ground capability, officials said. The inherent capabilities of sensor fusion, supercruise and stealth were enablers to adding this and other capabilities.

"This milestone represents a lot of sweat and sacrifice by the entire Raptor team, but the jet's tremendous capabilities have been well worth the effort,” said Col. Joe Lanni, 412th Test Wing commander.

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