The F-22s already fly some Red Air, augmenting T-38s employed in that role.
On Jun. 22, 2020, Air Combat Command (ACC) commander said that the US Air Force (USAF) is looking to bolster its fleet of F-22s by taking some Raptors from the service’s formal training unit and reconfiguring them for combat operations.
As we have already explained in fact, during a video teleconference hosted by the Air Force Association’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, Gen. James “Mike” Holmes told that the idea of repurposing some F-22s is primarily a “think piece” for ACC.
“They’re already combat capable even without bringing them up to the higher standard. I’d certainly pick one of those over some of our legacy airplanes, if I had to go fight,” Holmes said. “One option would be to be able to turn them into a combat-coded squadron over the next several years.”
As reported by Air Force Magazine, Holmes said that another option, “is to fly those older airplanes in a Red Air role,” putting new students in the most up-to-date versions so they don’t get accustomed to an older configuration. “With two operational squadrons” at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., “and the Red Air requirements for the FTU, can we kind of trade the airplanes among each other and make an effective use of the older airplanes in a Red Air role while we save our limited modernization dollars for those newer airplanes?” he asked. “We could produce some increased capacity that way.” The F-22s already fly some Red Air, augmenting T-38s employed in that role, Holmes said.
He also pointed out that ACC is looking at a new class of attritable and remotely piloted aircraft for possible use in an adversary training role.
Holmes said that the F-22, like all of ACC’s systems, has its own unique sustainment issues. The type was flown more hours than planned during operations in Syria, he noted, and that taxed the number of F119 engines available.
“The primary problem [with the aircraft] is having enough engines to meet our requirements,” he pointed out.
However he also added that USAF is working with Pratt & Whitney and its suppliers to address the issue and that “we’re in pretty good shape,” now.
Training has become more efficient in the F-22 since the service consolidated from six squadrons with 18-21 aircraft to five squadrons with 24 aircraft, he said.
Photo credit: U.S. Air Force