Cadets take control of future fighter

Tomorrow’s fighter pilots got a taste of tomorrow’s combat airpower Jan. 8 and 9 at the Air Force Academy when F/A-22 Raptor manufacturer Lockheed Martin Corporation let cadets take the controls in their updated F/A-22 cockpit flight simulator.

The F/A-22 Raptor is the next generation of multi-role fighter aircraft, and Lockheed staffers and test pilots provided cadets an introduction to the Raptor’s capabilities.

“The F/A-22 Raptor is a new breed of super-fighter for the 21st century,” said Lockheed spokesman Greg Caires. “With its stealth, supersonic cruise, agility and advanced integrated avionics, it will dominate the skies over any future battlefield.”

“The simulator was a really good experience, especially for cadets who almost all dream of one day flying,” said Cadet 3rd Class Robert Kurpiel of Cadet Squadron 35. “The simulator provided a great visualization for how the radar and stealth technology gives the Raptor the edge and how much of a difference that makes in a fight.”

At the flick of a switch, the simulator can mimic the performance characteristics of the aging F-15C Eagle as well, better illustrating the difference in capabilities between today’s air superiority fighter and tomorrow’s generation of fighters. “I was thrilled to take part in the F/A-22 flight simulator’s visit to the academy,” said Cadet 3rd Class Tripp Johnson of Cadet Squadron 9. “The capabilities that the plane demonstrated … surpassed all of my expectations.”

As a multimission fighter, it will have a precision-strike ground capability, and carry all of its missiles and ground-attack munitions internally, further reducing its radar signature.

The first operational F/A-22 squadron is scheduled to be activated at Langley AFB, Va., in late 2005.

“I’ve been debating about flying since I got to the academy, but after flying the F/A-22 simulator I am thinking about it a little more,” said Cadet 3rd Class Daniel K. Wilkinson of Cadet Squadron 9. “If I do become a pilot I definitely want to fly this plane.”(Courtesy Air Force Print News)