The U.S. Air Force found out that the F-22 Raptor can fire far more air-to-air missiles than ever before. Teams from the 94th Fighter Squadron and 94th Fighter Generation Squadrons were able to load and fire a record breaking 28 missiles during a weapons test in September, far more than the standard arms loadout.
That’s a lot of explosives. In fact, it’s nearly a third more than the previous record of 22 air-to-air missiles fired from a F-22, set in 2014 by a team from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska. This Raptor is loaded for bear and other planes.
“It basically tells big Air Force that our unit is prepared to deploy and if they did deploy us, how well we would perform compared to other squadrons,” Staff Sgt. Edgar Baez-Lopez, 94th FGS aircraft armament systems craftsman with the 94th Fighter Generation Squadron said after the successful weapons system evaluation program at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida.
The 94th Fighter Squadron and 94th Fighter Generation Squadrons, part of the 1st Fighter Wing based out of Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia, took part in the two-week weapons test meant to see how squadrons prepare and field fighter jets for air-to-air combat. It featured live fire, not just with missiles but with the F-22 Raptor’s gatling guns.
According to the Air Force, the F-22 Raptor carries eight missiles when sent for air-to-air missions, six AIM-120 AMRAAMs and two AIM-9 Sidewinders. It’s not clear what prompted the two squadrons to put that 20 more missiles than the standard onto a F-22 for the test, if it was a challenge or something else. But it worked. 28 missiles were loaded onto the wings’ hardpoints and the fighter’s internal arms bays. While airborne the fighter jet successfully fired off the full payload, worth approximately $14 million. It’s a big deal, considering that the F-22 has been in service since 2005 and no team has come close to that.
“As the 1st Fighter Wing, we’re already held to those high standards, but even for us, 28 air-to-air missiles is unheard of, and it’s record-setting for a reason,” Baez-Lopez added.
It’s not clear what the exact missile loadout was.
The two-week test also featured several restrictions, with teams having less stealth fighters to work with and smaller crews on the scene. Senior Master Sgt. Jared Robinson with the 94th Fighter Generation Squadron credited the success due to a strong rapport between operation crews and maintenance teams. The added pressure of live rounds during the test gave crews more urgency as well.
Source: U.S. Air Force