F-22 Raptor getting weapons, cybersecurity upgrades
By COLLIN BREAUX | The News Herald, Panama City, Fla. (Tribune News Service) | Published: August 19, 2017
TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE — When the last Air Force-ordered F-22 Raptor left Lockheed Martin in early 2012, many assumed it was the beginning of the end for one of the Air Force's signature fighter jets.
Congress in June firmly cemented the end of production, declining a restart while citing a cost of $206 million to $216 million per jet. However, the aircraft currently is undergoing upgrades to its cybersecurity, weapons and radar technology.
An article that originally appeared on Scout.com before being picked up by Business Insider on Aug. 7 reported "upgraded radar, weapons and cybersecurity technology are being engineered into the F-22 to enable the stealth fighter to counter attacks from emerging future enemy threats, dogfights successfully against Russian and Chinese 5th-generation stealth fighters, and fly successfully well into the 2060s."
Representatives of Air Combat Command, which oversees Tyndall Air Force Base, said many of the improvements already were underway on Tyndall aircraft, including Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), a method of identifying targets using electromagnetic signals or "pings."
"The SAR capability mentioned in the Business Insider article actually began implementation into the Raptor in 2011," ACC officials at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia wrote in an email. "All combat-coded F-22s at Tyndall AFB already possess this capability."
Also part of the upgrades are the jet's weapons systems, including the AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) and AIM-9 Sidewinder, a short-range air-to-air missile.
"The addition of the AIM-9X and AIM-120D weapons are part of what is known as the Increment 3.2B modernization effort," Langley officials wrote. "Increment 3.2B is currently scheduled to begin delivery to the combat-coded fleet, to include Tyndall, in 2019."
Tyndall crew members will be among those working on the upgrades, Langley confirmed, though officials did not say in what capacity.
The Air Force fleet houses 187 F-22 Raptors, and though the jet has reached the end of its production line, Langley officials said it remains critical to the mission.
"The F-22 and F-35 mixed force is critical to counter persistent and emerging threats to national security in the 21st century," Langley officials wrote. "The warfighter always welcomes upgrades that increase lethality and mission effectiveness."
©2017 The News Herald (Panama City, Fla.)
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