Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Are the problems of the F-22 Raptor resolved?

The restaurant is dark as we arrive after hours. Dark and quiet with a great view overlooking the Singapore skyline. The only light which illuminates the darkness of the Si Chuan Dou Hua is the light around one of the round tables where four men are waiting for my arrival. My security detail surveys the area carefully and is on high alert as this is a very sensitive meeting and we already had several attacks over the past four hours.

As we arrive at the round table the four men rise to their feet and one approaches me. His greeting is interrupted by my request to not mention names at the moment and that I would like to know what this meeting is about. I am informed that there is a great deal of admiration for the work we are able to perform with guided precision. Furthermore, my research and work has shown that we are close to the dawn of a new financial world, a new financial system which eliminates debt.

I am pleased to know that even the GRU has interest in a future project. I demand to know the details of what they seek, the parameters and objective. Right down to business, I have no time to waste especially after the security incident at HQ which left me unconsciousness for a brief moment and caused a full lock-down of the building with heightened security.

A phone rings, the young aid answers and thanks the other person shortly after. She leans over to the person I presume to be in charge of this meeting, the one who orchestrated this after hours conference and who pulled the strings on the past events. He nods after the aid is done with her update. 

Before we discuss the potential future project, let us briefly discuss the F-22 program. A rather odd suggestion from GRU members, but then again maybe I am on the wrong track and this is something completely different. I brainstorm what this could be all about. Nobody goes through all this trouble for a secret meeting to simply impress their admiration for my research and work.

The F-22 Raptor is the most expensive and most advanced stealth fighter in the history of the U.S. Air Force. The cost of the program was over $80 billion which some claim has been nothing more than wasteful spending. The Raptor's main objective is to be an air superiority fighter and own the skies which it does, but only in modern long range combat. 

During the Red Flag Alaska International exercise the F-22 demonstrated its long range superiority as it was able to target multiple bogeys simultaneously, like the F-14 Tomcat with its AIM 54 Phoenix arsenal which allows the Tomcat to engage up to six bogeys, before it was in enemy radar and weapons range. The Tomcat together with the Phoenix have been retired and the only global operator of the Phoenix is Iran. One should expect domination when shelling out $80 billion for a program.

Before you get to excited there is a huge flaw. The F-22 is equally matched when it comes to good ol' dog-fighting. older and cheaper fighters evenly match the Raptor. This may sound bad, but the worst news is that the entire F-22 has been grounded for over four years due to a potentially fatal oxygen problem. Pilots as well as ground crew members have suffered from hypoxia. 

After four years the Air Force is confident that they have found the problem. Apparently it is a four part problem which all has to do with the air filter which is meant to protect pilots from chemical and biological agents. The report listed the following as the cause of hypoxia:

1.The upper pressure garment on the outdated vests pilots have to deal with.

2. The oxygen delivery hoses.

3. The valve in the quick connection point of the oxygen delivery hoses

4.The air filter on the oxygen delivery hoses which are meant to filter out chemical as well as biological agents.

$80 billion for a jet fighter program and the inability to have functioning vests, pathetic!

There are more controversial discussion which surround the Raptor, but having the entire fleet grounded is never a good sign. Partner countries consider if it will be worth to acquire the Raptor which is currently banned from exports unlike the F-35 Lightning II.

The cost for the Raptor at roughly $420 million is not worth the final product. Allied countries prefer the Eurofighter Typhoon which costs about $200 million per jet and is evenly matched with the Raptor except in long range combat. After cost-reward is taken into consideration it is easy to spot why the Typhoon is the premier choice.

Yes, the Raptor is an amazing aerial weapons platform but the cost is not worth the one added benefit in comparison to the Typhoon. Three months ago an undisclosed number of F-22 Raptors were stationed at an allied Air Force Base in the UAE or 200 miles away from Iran. Another squadron was deployed 800 miles away from North Korea at the Kadena Air Base in southern Japan.

The problems of the Raptor have been very unfortunate and our little round table of secrecy agrees with that fact. Let us talk about the Sukhoi PAK FA is what I hear next. GRU after-all is what crosses my mind. I assume there are some issues in the financing department as the PAK FA is supposed to enter mass production in less than 15 months.

My phone rings and it is HQ. I need to be on my way and suggest we arrange another meeting tomorrow to discuss the specifics of this project as well as our compensation should we agree on terms. I stand up, which is followed by the rest of the round table. My security detail and I rush to the elevators as the young aid catches up with me and hands me a platinum card. 

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