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These Images Of An F-22 Raptor's Crumbling Radar Absorbent Skin Are Fascinating

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posted on Jul, 31 2019 @ 09:57 AM
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These Images Of An F-22 Raptor's Crumbling Radar Absorbent Skin Are Fascinating


The F-22 Raptor was a highlight of this year's EAA Airventure Air Show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The Raptor Demo Team flew in aircraft that were from Langely AFB in Virginia, where the team is based. One of those jets showed comparatively extreme signs of corrosion on the upper nose area, right before the canopy. In fact, the section was in such poor shape, that it offered a bizarre and fascinating view of what some of the F-22's most prominent surface areas are made up of.

As you can see in the images, it's not just that the surface is corroded, it appears that areas of the radar-absorbent material (RAM) beneath it has fallen away entirely. It almost looks like there are gaping holes in the jet's upper nose, but that may not actually be the case. If you look closely, it seems like there may be a translucent coating in place over the area that creates a shell or sorts that laminates to the foam-like structure below. Still, the F-22's nose looks somewhat hollow inside.


I have always been a fan of aviation and I was watching the competition between the YF-22 and YF-23 with interest back in the 80's and 90's. I've always thought the YF-23 was a better and more beautiful aircraft, but that's water under the bridge at this point.

What I wanted to say here was that I was appalled at the state of the aircraft featured in this airshow. Not only was the RAM coating crumbling, but the amount of rust marks on the surface were quite surprising as well. With a price tag of $150M to $334M a piece, and the fact that the tooling to make them has been destroyed, you would think they would be taking better care of them.

The article goes on to say why they are having difficulty maintaining the RAM coating, which is just baffling to me as well. They blame high humidity for some of the issues. If humidity is so important, why do they only have 2 climate controlled bays to service the aircraft, and why are they doing this maintenance in FLORIDA, a place well known for its high humidity?

I don't know, I guess I am just disappointed to see such an expensive, capable and beautiful aircraft not being treated they way it deserves (especially since the pilot's and their mission depend on a well maintained aircraft for success and survival)




posted on Jul, 31 2019 @ 10:01 AM
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My question is who the hell decided it was a good idea to bring this particular plane to an air show? Maybe because it's not operationally capable with that kind of deterioration so instead of sending a capable aircraft to the show might as well send this? Still, not a good look.
edit on 31 7 19 by face23785 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 31 2019 @ 10:10 AM
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a reply to: BomSquad

The plane was being used at an air show. Reading the article, apparently the skin requires constant upkeep due to wear & tear to be invisible to radar. However, since the plane was not seeing combat, there was no point in reapplication of the skin at that time.

If it doesn't affect the flight performance, who cares?

It is interesting to see how much maintenance is required on those planes and all the tech involved. I love seeing the fighters at the Chicago air show.

They brought out a B-2 Stealth Bomber a few years ago. Amazing. Looked like a UFO flying over the lake and skyline.



posted on Jul, 31 2019 @ 10:20 AM
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a reply to: Edumakated

Believe me, I get that they would keep the more mission ready aircraft at base as opposed to sending them to an airshow. I'd like to also point out though that this isn't a deuce and a half truck from 1950 but supposedly a state of the art $150M+ dollar aircraft that not only has a problem with the RAM coating (which doesn't matter for an airshow, of course) but has RUST and rust stains all over the place. I'm sorry but I could understand that in wartime where the planes are flying mission after mission like the Battle of Britain, but not for planes in a state side base in "peace time".

How was this aircraft allowed to get into this condition?



posted on Jul, 31 2019 @ 10:26 AM
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a reply to: BomSquad

It cost a ton of money to keep them looking pristine. If it has no effect on flight performance, then there is no point in spending the money just for an airshow.




posted on Jul, 31 2019 @ 10:28 AM
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originally posted by: BomSquad
a reply to: Edumakated

How was this aircraft allowed to get into this condition?


I was in Naval aviation so I know a thing or two about the never ending battle with rust
We were always busting rust especially when out at sea.

However, when the Blue Angels came to town and used our hangers I was amazed to find that they were the biggest POS F-18s you could find in the Navy. Granted they are much older than the F22, but I think it just goes to show they don't use our best aircraft for the air shows.



posted on Jul, 31 2019 @ 10:33 AM
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a reply to: BomSquad

It probably has some rust blocking coating instead of the high dollar application. I know the Blue Angels are phased out FA/18's that are no longer structurally viable to land on a carrier. They still work fine. It's not a big deal other than cosmetically scoffed at by people who don't know these are not the real "Batman" cars used in the movie so to speak.



posted on Jul, 31 2019 @ 10:42 AM
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For those concerned about our operational aircraft, I used to fuel F22s up at Elmendorf up until mid-2016. None of them looked like that. It's gotta just be, as some have already said, that this is a show-bird so they haven't been bothering with the expensive upkeep.



posted on Jul, 31 2019 @ 10:45 AM
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There is a lot of information to be digested in that article. Originally my computer froze up when I was typing a response, odd that. Probably just a coincidence.

The things that struck me are in relation to the color of the rust, and lightning striking in proximity meaning all reapplications must stop.

What this tells me is that the coating is likely spray applied, and contains nano-particles of metal (likely iron) that are all neutrally charged. Though a method like "sputtering" could also be the case, but that would require removing entire parts, applying the absorbent material, then reinstalling the part.

As for the toxic nature, that can come down to the very fine particle size rather than the substance itself being toxic. As the "martian" pictured in the article is something akin to what I would wear when I am sand blasting old coatings off before re-application of paint or stains on a building as well as when I am reapplying a coating.

If the substance itself was toxic the "martian" would need a full blown oxygen system, not just a particle filter that isn't even contained in a cassette.

The color of the rust leads me to think it is Iron Oxide (II), which when exposed to water transforms into either Iron Oxide (II,III) or Ferrihydrite, both of which have much higher radar refraction rates, and the color of the rust shows that.

All of this could however be baseless due to the quote about the bolt on "lenses" stated in the article, and we could just be seeing rust on those bolt on portions rather than anything to do with the radar absorbing material.



posted on Jul, 31 2019 @ 10:53 AM
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a reply to: FauxMulder

That's not rust around those panels. That's a corrosion preventive coating. It looks like the paint is flaking off on that panel in front of the cockpit and it is showing the actual color of the material underneath.

When I was in the Navy, I ran the Corrosion Control Shop for our aircraft.



posted on Jul, 31 2019 @ 10:59 AM
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The avionics is this show bird are probably on the level of an Atari 2600 to a PS4. The radar deflection aspect serves no purpose. It has some rust and they probably coated it with rust stopper and plan to deal with it later IMO like the rust on a beater car.



posted on Jul, 31 2019 @ 11:05 AM
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a reply to: JIMC5499

I never said anything about rust around those panels.

Not sure if you meant to reply to me...

My experiences with rust and corrosion were mainly on hardware. Especially all over the main rotor head. (SH60s)



posted on Jul, 31 2019 @ 11:08 AM
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a reply to: FauxMulder

I wasn't replying directly to you and meant nothing against you. A fellow rotorhead, huh. I worked on SH-3s in the 80's. I've seen the 60's rotorhead. You had your work cut out for you.



posted on Jul, 31 2019 @ 11:14 AM
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a reply to: JIMC5499

No worries. I was just a bit confused.

When I initially found out Id be working on helicopters I was upset. I wanted to be on F18s as I thought there were badass. However, I'm glad it happened like it did. Helicopters were much more interesting to work on and I actually got to fly a bunch. I also never had to go on a carrier. Always small boys, hit way more ports and way less people on the boat to deal with.




posted on Jul, 31 2019 @ 11:35 AM
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a reply to: Edumakated


They brought out a B-2 Stealth Bomber a few years ago. Amazing. Looked like a UFO flying over the lake and skyline.


Yeah they are pretty impressive seeing with your own eyes. Quiet too.



posted on Jul, 31 2019 @ 12:42 PM
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Looks like its spalling. So my guess is this is one of the Raptors that hasn't been fitted with new RAM yet. Known issue. Slowly being replaced over the past several years. Should be done with the fleet in a couple years.

Could be an application error where they got bad bonding, but probably it's just normal wear and tear from rain, sand, heat. The old coatings do this relatively easily, actually. Leading edges, noses, and the inlet get the worst of it. You get wrinkles and then spalling, and under the right conditions will even "melt" and get stripped away by the passing air.

You can even get it to start to sort of dissolve with contact with fuels or oils (even from hands, actually).

So my guess is it's due for the new RAM, maybe even the ICR facility and since it isn't deployed, there is little point in reapplying old material (probably means contract work, so why contract work to replace/repair the old RAM when it's X-number of weeks/months from complete replacement with new material).


Definitely ugly, though, and will certainly affect signature.
edit on 31-7-2019 by RadioRobert because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 31 2019 @ 01:23 PM
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a reply to: FauxMulder

I clicked reply to you because of your Navy reference. I know the feeling. I wanted Tomcats. I went in to get my A&P license and was disappointed until in OJT a Chief gave me a part number and told me to go and get a fuel line. I was handed 6 feet of stainless steel tubing and a bag of fittings. The Chief taught me how to bend and flare tubing. Getting my A&P was the reason that I got to run Corrosion Control. Ended up with a few NARF schools that helped. Never regretted getting Sea Kings. Ended up going Aircrew.



posted on Jul, 31 2019 @ 02:24 PM
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a reply to: BomSquad

The coatings only last for so long before they have to be replaced. This is one of the biggest reasons all the stealth aircraft have low mission capable rates. It's a lot easier to wait for scheduled maintenance to reapply the skin whenever possible.



posted on Jul, 31 2019 @ 10:03 PM
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If you think this is bad, go check out the F-22 demo bird up close



posted on Jul, 31 2019 @ 11:00 PM
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originally posted by: pavil
a reply to: Edumakated


They brought out a B-2 Stealth Bomber a few years ago. Amazing. Looked like a UFO flying over the lake and skyline.


Yeah they are pretty impressive seeing with your own eyes. Quiet too.


At first just looks like a black line in the sky is approaching you. Under the right conditions, little if any sound until it gets overhead. They are too cool for school.




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