Getting Personal: Pilot discusses new F-22 Raptor aircraft
July 16, 2008
Inclement weather grounded this year’s Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford and with it, the world’s most advanced fighter jet, the F-22 Raptor.
Though F-22 pilot Maj. Paul D. Moga couldn’t show off the Air Force’s newest fighter to any crowds at the canceled air show, he still spoke to Stars and Stripes about the new aircraft that will eventually replace an aging F-15 fleet.
Moga, 35, is assigned to the 1st Operations Group out of Langley Air Force Base, Va. In February 2006, he became the first pilot on the F-22 demonstration team. He has also flown F-15 jets for seven years.
What’s the best thing about flying the F-22 jet?
Obviously, when we do an air show, people think the best thing is the fact that I can do back flips, loops and tight turns and stuff. The best thing about this jet is it can fight in scenarios where we had no capability to do so without getting whaled on. I can take off on a Raptor by myself and fight an engagement where previously in my F-15 I would have needed myself and my three best buddies. It completely dominates every battlefield we have ever tested it against.
Compared to the F-15, what’s the biggest difference?
What the jet can do in a tactical scenario. When you’re flying in a Raptor, number one, nobody can see you because you’re stealthy. Number two, even if they do see you, you’re so high and you’re so fast that they can’t do anything about it. And number three, you see everybody else.
In an F-15 you’d have to work your tail off to gather information about the battle. In the Raptor, it does all that for you. It will take that information, process it and display it to you on the screen. All you have to do as a pilot is look at the info and figure out what to do with it.
What does it feel like to fly the jet? Is it a smooth ride?
Oh yeah. It’s a dream to fly.
How much does one of these jets cost?
About $137 million.
Is it pretty intimidating to fly something that expensive?
I’m just hoping I don’t screw it up. [smiling]
Primary function: Air dominance, multi-role fighter
Thrust: 35,000-pound class (each engine)
Wingspan: 44 feet, six inches
Length: 62 feet, one inch
Weight: 43,340 pounds
Speed: Mach 2 class with supercruise capability
Range: More than 1,850 miles ferry range with two external wing fuel tanks (1,600 nautical miles)
Ceiling: Above 50,000 feet (15 kilometers)
Armament: One M61A2 20-millimeter cannon with 480 rounds, internal side weapon bays carriage of two AIM-9 infrared (heat seeking) air-to-air missiles and internal main weapon bays carriage of six AIM-120 radar-guided air-to-air missiles (air-to-air loadout) or two 1,000-pound GBU-32 JDAMs and two AIM-120 radar-guided air-to-air missiles (air-to-ground loadout)
Inventory: Total force, 91
Information compiled from U.S. Air Force fact sheet