Test Raptor grounded
October 07, 2004
By Bruce Rolfsen
Times staff writer
One of the Air Force’s test F/A-22 Raptors has been grounded pending a series of inspections in the aftermath of a flight accident on Sept. 28. The F/A-22, tail number 91-4003, was equipped with empty external wing fuel tanks when it experienced an “over G” load force as it flew through the wake of an F-16 Fighting Falcon it was flying a gun tracking test with, said John Haire, a spokesman for the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.
An “over G” load means that the jet experienced G-forces beyond accepted limits, said Haire. The Air Force wouldn’t say how high the G-force load was.
Another Air Force report described the flight problem as an “unexpected pitch oscillation.”
The F/A-22 and its civilian test pilot safely returned to Edwards. Although there was no visible external damage to the fighter, the jet was grounded and a safety investigation board was formed to determine why the jet malfunctioned
While a price tag hasn’t been put on damage to the stealth jet, the Air Force has classified the incident as a Class-A mishap, meaning the repair bill could be $1 million or more.
Fleet Week kicks off today -- but Blue Angels not part of the show
Canadian stunt team will perform Saturday, Sunday
Michael Cabanatuan, Chronicle Staff Writer
Friday, October 8, 2004
Fleet Week, the Bay Area's traditional fall salute to the Navy, will roar back into San Francisco this weekend -- but the roar won't be as loud as in the past, and it won't come from the usual source.
For the first time in 23 years, the Blue Angels, the Navy's deafening precision flying team, won't be part of Fleet Week. They'll be displaying their jet-powered aerial acrobatics in Oahu, Hawaii, instead this weekend.
The Bay Area will get Canada's top stunt squadron, the Snowbirds, which will perform in the Saturday and Sunday air show. The Snowbirds have been described as a slightly quieter squad that stresses complex and graceful maneuvers compared to the speed and power of the Blue Angels.
Fleet Week planners are reluctant to discuss the absence of the Blue Angels, preferring to steer attention to the events and entertainment that will be featured.
"The Snowbirds are the focus this year,'' said Lt. Commander Julie Ripley, a Fleet Week spokeswoman.
Fleet Week, which annually honors the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, this year will also salute the Canadian Forces. Canadian ships will join the U. S. Navy vessels in port.
Fleet Week, even without the Blue Angels, is expected to draw huge crowds to Fisherman's Wharf -- including 4,000 active-duty sailors eager to spend a weekend in San Francisco.
"There's a lot of excitement having all those ships and sailors come in, '' said Jan Misch, president of the Fisherman's Wharf Merchants Association. "It's a big, fun, festive weekend.''
In addition to the Snowbirds, the air show will feature the U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagle, Navy F/A-18 Hornet, and on Saturday only, a flyby from the military's newest fighter jet, the F-22 Raptor.
Eight naval ships will berth in San Francisco. The public can tour them for free from Sunday through Tuesday along the San Francisco Pier. Joined by a Coast Guard cutter and a Liberty Ship, they'll also participate in Saturday morning's Parade of Ships.
Fleet Week will also feature fireworks -- launched between Piers 39 and 45 -- on both Friday and Saturday nights, plus a music festival at the wharf on Saturday and an Italian Heritage Day Parade on Sunday.
The absence of the Blue Angels hasn't hurt hotel occupancy, said Misch, who is general manager of the Tuscan Inn. And it shouldn't diminish attendance. She was more concerned about weather forecasts that call for a chance of rain Saturday.
Even without the Blue Angels, she said, "it's still a great air show and an exciting weekend. But we hope the Blue Angels are back next year.''
AF begins Raptor operational tests
By 2nd Lt. Brooke Davis Air Force Flight Test Center public affairs
EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. - Operational testing on the F/A-22 Raptor began April 29 when the first two-ship sortie was flown and tested by members of the F/A-22 Combined Test Force here.
After the operational testing is complete, a report will provide senior leaders with the information needed to approve the Raptor for full-rate production.
"Transitioning to the initial operational test and evaluation of the F/A-22 is a much anticipated and extremely important event for the Depart-ment of Defense," said Maj. Gen. Wilbert Pearson Jr., Air Force Flight Test Center commander. "The Raptor is an excellent example of the Air Force acquisition system working to provide the most capable combat equipment to America's Airmen fighting the global War on Terrorism."
Air Combat Command officials defined an operational need for a transformational fighter/attack weapon system, and the secretary of the Air Force and officials from Air Force Materiel Command provided a team to develop and produce the advanced weapon system, General Pearson said.
"The most important accomplishment of flight testing to date was describing, refining and validating the key attributes of the F/A-22 design, which includes stealth, agility, speed and integrated avionics," General Pearson said. "The Raptor is the most advanced fighter aircraft in the world and is the first and only combat aircraft that combines these attributes into a single aviation platform."
Now that the design has been sufficiently refined, officials are ready to evaluate the weapon system's operation in a realistic environment, similar to threats the aircraft is expected to encounter in the years ahead, General Pearson said.
During developmental testing, the CTF tested air-to-air weapons including the AIM-120 AMRAAM, the AIM-9 Sidewinder missile and a 20-millimeter cannon, General Pearson said.
Pilots from the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center's Detach-ment 6 will be flying four F/A-22 aircraft, as well as using trained pilots and maintainers from ACC. Main-tainers from the 31st Test and Eval-uation Squadron are supporting the operational testing by maintaining these Raptors.
"We've prepared quite extensively over the past month or so to ensure the start of the operational test and evaluation goes as smoothly as possible," said Chief Master Sgt. Rich Gallagher, 31st TES F/A-22 maintenance superintendent.
The pilots completed their training, which included a variety of sorties designed to provide acclimation to Raptor technology, said Lt. Col. David Freeman, Det. 6 deputy commander.
Air Force bases nationwide are gearing up for the phase following the initial operational test and evaluation.
The Air Warfare Center at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., is training pilots to fly the Raptor, and the pilots will eventually undertake developing tactics designed to take maximum advantage of the aircraft's unique capabilities. Additionally, the Nevada Test and Training Range will provide airspace, simulated threats and targets for evaluation, General Pearson said.
ACC will receive the first operationally ready Raptors at Langley Air Force Base, Va., in late 2004.
It is not unusual to find these type problems newly deployed aircraft.
Virtually all new aircraft designs in the last 60 years have had similar events.
For example just a few.
... It experienced loads outside of designed flight envelop, normal SOP to ground until investigation is done
... or "gimme some time to do my job dammit!"
You forgot the Lockheed's F104 Starfighter, I believe some people call it a "flying coffin" because of so many mishaps.
This is par for the course when you're pushing the state of art in an airplane. These are gremlins that don't show up in wind-tunnels etc. I'm just glad there was not a crash or lost of life.
The airplane saw 12.5 g's according to SPO folks from Wright Pat.
How did the pilot not loose conciousness? Was it constant or instant?
I cannot comment on the first article.
Operational testing at Edwards was completed in August.
The date it was released was yesterday, but the article is dated from April.
Air Force, go figure.....
Damn, that's a tough bird indeed!