Nov. 15--It's almost the same size as the F-15 Eagle but considerably more lethal.
Its low-profile design, the Air Force boasts, brings stealth technology out of the darkness and into the daytime.
The $100 million-plus F-22A Raptor is the Air Force's most advanced production airplane, a "fifth-generation" fighter that can cruise at supersonic speeds without using an afterburner, and almost pirouette in the sky, leaving pursuers coughing on its contrails.
At the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center at Tinker Air Force Base, airmen and employees of engine maker Pratt & Whitney repair the Raptor's engines.
Tinker, Pratt & Whitney and Lockheed Martin officials celebrated Tuesday the second anniversary of the depot's opening at the 26,000-worker air base with flights on an F-22 "demonstrator."
"This partnership is really a role model for all the Defense Department," said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Dick Burpee, who previously commanded Tinker's air logistics center.
"Your kids will be envious of that toy over there," said Luis Zubillaga, general manager of Pratt & Whitney's Oklahoma City operations.
The demonstrator was 90 percent accurate, Fort-Worth, Texas-based, Lockheed Martin engineer Mike Jorgensen said. Obviously he couldn't talk about what was missing. Compared with the cockpit of the 1970s-era F-14 Tomcat, however, a lot seemed to be missing: gauges, switches, knobs, dials, clutter.
"I would have to say an F-22 is a truly glass cockpit," said Marietta, Ga.-based, Lockheed Martin engineer Ken Thomas, a former Marine pilot who helped design it.
"We've taken the pilot out of the role of being a sensor operator and let him be a tactician," he said, describing the airplane's "first-look, first-shot, first-kill" capabilities.
The F-22 has a "God's eye" view of the ground and the air around it.
"It's like a big sponge," Jorgensen said of the information the airplane processes and relays to the pilot.
Garry Richey, executive director of the air logistics center, said repairing Raptor engines means staying in front of technology as other aircraft age.
"We've had a few (engine) modules sent in for repair, but we're just beginning to get the work load," he said.
More than 80 Raptors are deployed at four air bases in the United States.
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