Originally posted by BillHicksRules
Lets take a point by point look at the items you feel make the Raptor "a quantum leap forward"
Supercruise - You get where you need to go faster or you get to bug out quicker. Nice to have but hardly a "quantum leap". Concorde had supercruise
in the 60's.
Thrust Vectoring - Technology has been around for 15-20 years and in that time many new aircraft have been created and only one using it. Makes me
think that it is not all it is cracked up to be. Look at UAV and UCAV development. Less than half of them plan to include it.
Stealth - Great at BVR useless at visual range engagements.
Another point to consider is that the weapons deployed on the Raptor are those currently available to the existing USAF fleet so no "quantum leap"
in capabilities there.
I see the raptor is more like a evolution of the F-15 and F-16 than a quantum leap forward.
As to its future I think that it will be rapidly eclipsed by UCAVs.
While I tend to roll my eyes in exasperation at statements that overly bloviate the F-22's attributes, it is without a doubt an impressive machine,
and to disregard it as just the next step in fighter aircraft development is a rather large understatement that I cannot help but respond to.
Regarding Thrust Vectoring you apparently take the attitude that since the technology has been around for 15-20 years, and since in that time it has
only been used on one or two other production aircraft it is somehow "not all that it's cracked up to be".
Logic like that is akin to saying that hypersonic aircraft have been around since the X-15,so if hypersonics is all that it's cracked up to be why
hasn't anyone developed other hypersonic vehicles?
In actuality the F-22's thrust vectoring is all it's cracked up to be, but building a reliable system with a low IR signature and integrating it
into a supersonic
combat airframe requires years of expensive development.
You also mentioned stealth and that it's useless at visual range engagements.
And you would know this how?
Somebody who would know however is Paul Metz, who was the first test pilot to fly the F-22. He described an exercise in which the pilot of a fully
updated F-15 with the latest avionics on board was told that Metz was approaching head on in an F-22. The F-15's updated radar failed to find the
"The first time he got a read on me was visually, when I flew right over the top of him..."
Paul Metz, USAF Ret., former Lockheed-Martin Chief Test Pilot
Sensor suites utilizing the RF & IR range are still very important in visual range engagements, and if your sensors can't find your adversary when
they go behind you - you've definitely got something to worry about.
The statement about UCAV's eclipsing the F-22 seems to imply that you believe sometime in the near future UCAV's will be taking on the role that the
F-22 was designed for.
Sure there are UCAV's currently being developed for various forms of strike and bombing mission but Air Superiority UCAV's are way down the road,
considerably more than 10 or even 15 years off.
You have also overlooked the Raptor's suite of avionics, which in itself represents a "quantum
" in information and situational awareness to the pilot. The F-22 is the first aircraft to use integrated avionics, with critical systems
such as the radar, the weapons management system, and electronic warfare sensors working together as one unit. This is a very sophisticated setup
and one not likely to have any parity from potential opposition anytime soon.
As for the Raptor being an evolution from the F-15... of course it is, but it is a huge evolutionary step - a dramatic advance in capabilities, which
by definition is a "quantum leap".
Perhaps you don't appreciate the intricasies involved in combining all of these elements together in one air vehicle and applying them in a unified
system, but it has never been done before and it won't be done by others for some time to come.
Part of the point you seem to have passed right by without noticing is that although each of these individual elements represent the state of the art
in a production aircraft, it is not any of these individual elements (supercruise, stealth, thrust vectoring, etc) that make the F-22 a "quantum
"... it is the synergy of all of these elements creating a combined effect that is greater than the sum of the element's individual effects
- and all of this on one platform, the F-22 Raptor...
[edit on 2-3-2005 by intelgurl]