Posts tagged ‘F-22 Raptor’

HOMELAND SECURITY: About That Big Ballooon …


By now, you’ve probably heard about the enormous Chinese high-altitude “weather” balloon that an Air Force F-22 Raptor fighter jet shot down off the South Carolina coast February 4, after U.S. authorities determined: 1. It was a surveillance craft, 2. scoping out U.S. defense facilities in Montana and elsewhere across the heartland, 3. in violation of international law, 4. and shooting it down over land would endanger American lives and property.

F-22 Raptor over Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia on December 9, 2022. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergean. Marcus M. Bullock)

However, we noted in a February 6 briefing about the event — which roiled already difficult U.S-Chinese relations — Air Force General Glen VanHerck, commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command, disclosed that the flight of two F-22s sent to bring down the balloon, had the call sign Frank 01. And the second, backup flight of Raptors, used call sign Luke 01.

The call sign name choice wasn’t random. Lieutenant Frank Luke was a World War pilot awarded the Medal of Honor for his relentless attacks against observation balloons ringed by anti-aircraft guns and guarded by German aircraft.

2nd Lieutenant Frank Luke, Jr. with his SPAD S.XIII on September 19, 1918 near Rattentout Farm, France.


A native of Phoenix, Arizona, Luke was the Number 2 U.S. air ace in World War I (after the better known Captain Eddie Rickenbacker). In just a few short weeks in 1918, Luke shot down eight German planes and 14 enemy observation balloons. His head-on attacks on the hydrogen-filled, heavily guarded balloons earned him the nickname the “Arizona Balloon Buster,” as we noted in an October 4, 2018 posting on 4GWAR blog.

Luke was killed in his final attack on a line of balloons on September 29, 1918 — destroying three — before being mortally wounded by ground fire. He landed his plane but refused to surrender to surrounding German troops, firing his handgun at them until he succumbed to his wound.

“So how fitting is it that Frank 01 took down this balloon in sovereign air space of the United States of America within our territorial waters,” General VanHerck noted.

February 7, 2023 at 1:38 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (October 28, 2022)


(U.S. Air Force photo by Adam Bowles) Click on photo to enlarge image.

A World War II-era P-51D Mustang and an Air Force F-22 Raptor participate in a traditional “Heritage Flight” during the 2022 Marine Corps Air Station Miramar Air Show over San Diego, California on September 24, 2022.

Manufactured by North American Aviation, the Mustang was among the best and most well-known fighter aircraft flown by the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II. The P-51 operated primarily as a long-range escort fighter and also as a ground attack fighter-bomber. Mustangs served in nearly every combat zone during WWII, and later fought in the Korean War.

In December 1943 the first P-51B/C Mustangs entered combat in Europe with the 354th Fighter Group. By the time of the first U.S. heavy bomber strike against Berlin in March 1944, the USAAF was fielding about 175 P-51B/C Mustangs, according to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

The new P-51D incorporated several improvements, including a new “bubble-top” canopy to improved the pilot’s vision. It had a top speed of  437 miles per hour — thanks to a 1,95-horsepower, Packard Rolls Royce Merlin V-1650-7 engine, according to the National World War II Museum. Nearly 8,000 P-51Ds were built, making it the most numerous variant. The P-51D arrived in quantity in Europe in the spring of 1944, becoming the USAAF’s primary long range escort fighter. By the end of the war, Mustangs had destroyed 4,950 enemy aircraft in the air, more than any other USAAF fighter in Europe.

P-51Ds arrived in the Pacific and China-Burma-India theaters by the end of 1944.  Iwo Jima-based P-51Ds started flying long-range B-29 escort and low-level fighter-bomber missions against Japan in the spring of 1945. Mustangs also saw service in the Korean War until they were replaced by jet aircraft.  Production of the last variant, the P-51H, ended in 1946. More than 15,000 Mustangs of all types were built.

Lockheed Martin’s F-22 Raptor, a stealthy air supremacy aircraft, is considered the first 5th-generation fighter in the U.S. Air Force inventory, The F-22 Raptor possesses a sophisticated sensor suite allowing the pilot to track, identify, shoot and kill air-to-air threats before being detected, according to the website.

Powered by two Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 turbofan engines, the Raptor can reach speeds twice the speed of sound (Mach 2), says an Air Force fact sheet. Lockheed Martin built most of the F-22’s airframe and weapons systems and conducted final assembly, while Boeing provided the wings, avionics integration and training systems. The Raptor formally entered service in December 2005 as the F-22A.

The Air Force originally planned to buy more than 700 of the Raptors, but with the cost per plane reaching $143 million, the program was cut to 187 operational aircraft in 2009. Another factor cited for the shift was a lack of air-to-air missions for the F-22 due to the focus on counterinsurgency operations. The last F-22 was delivered in 2012. Congress banned foreign sales to protect stealth and other classified technologies.

The newest U.S. 5th generation fighter is the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II. There are now more than 400 flying in three variants with the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. The total fleet will number more than 1,000. Fifteen U.S. allies and partners, including Australia, Britain, Finland, Israel, Japan Norway, Poland and South Korea, have purchased or plan to buy F-35s.

October 28, 2022 at 12:28 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (February 18, 2022)

Muscling a Missile.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr.)

Despite the latest in high tech aircraft parked behind them, these airmen from the 43rd Fighter Generation Squadron have to lift an AIM-9 Sidewinder air intercept missile during a weapons load competition at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida on February 11, 2022.

Two teams competed to see who could load an AIM-120, an AIM-9 and chaff and flares onto their F-22 Raptor stealth jet fighter the fastest and with the fewest errors. The winner will be announced at the unit’s annual awards ceremony.

To learn a little more about the Raptor, and its troubled history, click here.


February 17, 2022 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (April 9, 2021)

Still Snowy in April.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rebeckah Medeiros)

U.S Air Force F-22 Raptors from the 199th Fighter Squadron fly alongside an Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker (the wing on the left) from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron during ighter training near iconic Mount Fuji, Japan, on April 1, 2021.

The F-22 Raptors are the first to combine supercruise, supermaneuverability, radar-avoiding stealth and sensor fusion in a single weapons platform. These Raptors operate out of Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, to support the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.

The F-22 is considered a fifth-generation fighter aircraft, meaning it includes major technologies developed during the first part of the 21st century. As of 2021 these are the most advanced fighters in operation. In addition to the Lockheed Martin F-22, which entered service with the U.S. Air Force in December 2005 they include: Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II, which began with the USAF in July 2015; the Chengdu J-20, which joined China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) in September 2017, and the Sukhoi Su-57, which entered service with the Russian Air Force in December 2020.

Please click on the photo to see a larger image.

April 9, 2021 at 12:35 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (July 26, 2019)

F-22 x Two.

FRIFO 7-26-2019 Two F-22s

(Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant James Richardson)

Two U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors fly in formation during training over the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex in Alaska on July 18, 2019.

Meanwhile, meteorologists say the weather system responsible for a heat wave that cooked Europe from Britain to Germany this past week will stretch all the way across the top of the globe — including the Arctic — starting this weekend.

While cities like Paris and London wilted under record-setting temperatures above 100 degrees (Fahrenheit) some scientists are concerned about what the heat wave will do to the Arctic after it reaches Scandinavia this weekend and then moves west and north.

This weather system, characterized by a strong area of high pressure aloft — often referred to as a heat dome– could increase the melting of already thin sea ice and the Greenland ice sheet, reported the Washington Post.


Frozen canyons and glaciers in Greenland. (NASA photo by Michael Studinger)

So far this year, the extent of Arctic sea ice has hovered at record lows during the melt season. Weather patterns favorable for increased melt have predominated in this region, and an unusually mild summer has also increased melting of the Greenland ice sheet. Unlike sea ice melt, however, runoff from the Greenland ice sheet increases sea levels, since it adds new water to the oceans, according to the Post.

Editor’s Note:

Your 4GWAR editor went on a fact-finding expedition, organized by the 2041 Foundation, ClimateForce and The Explorer’s Passage, to the Arctic in June. We saw first hand, what climate change is doing to the polar region and the implications for the rest of the planet — including new sea lanes and military buildups at the top of the world.  Our three-part article with reporting from Norway, Sweden and Washington, D.C. begins Tuesday, July 30.

July 26, 2019 at 10:21 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (January 26, 2019)

Spirit in the Sky.

Bomber Task Force Operations

(U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sergeant Russ Scalf)

Like some alien spacecraft from another world, an Air Force B-2 Spirit bomber (center) approaches an air refueling tanker during in a training mission near Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, on January 15, 2019.

The boomerang-shaped stealth bomber — one of only 20 in the U.S. Air Force inventory — is flanked in this photo by two F-22 Raptor jet fighters assigned to the Hawaii Air National Guard.

January 25, 2019 at 2:10 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (February 17, 2017)

Fuji Fly-by.

Raptors take off from Yokota

(U.S. Air Force photo by Yasuo Osakabe)

An Air Force F-22 Raptor takes off from Yokota Air Base in Japan as Mount Fuji looms nearby. The Raptor stopped in Japan before traveling to an Australian base. The pilot and aircraft are assigned to the 90th Fighter Squadron and deployed from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.

February 17, 2017 at 3:46 am Leave a comment


June 2023


%d bloggers like this: