SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Contractor Rich Briggs explains some of the features of the heads-up display of the F/A-22 Raptor simulator to Airmen here. Contractors brought the demonstrator to give base Airmen a glimpse of the future of fighters in the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Ingle)
2/18/2005 - SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFPN) -- It has been called an F-15 Eagle on steroids because of its advanced technologies. The F/A-22 Raptor, the Air Force's newest aircraft, has gained recognition as the first stealth supersonic fighter in the world.
The $1.5 million cockpit simulator brought here Feb. 16 to 18 gave Airmen a chance to learn more about its capabilities and even fly it.
"You can't compare it to anything," said Jim Conlin, of Lockheed Martin Corp., about the aircraft's revolutionary capabilities. "It's like bringing a gun to a knife fight."
Mr. Conlin, the F/A-22 manager of customer requirements operations for the company, said the cockpit demonstrator is the tip of the iceberg of what is actually on the aircraft. He said some components of the actual cockpit could not be included for security reasons.
The Raptor is the first fighter that is stealthy and can fly at supersonic speeds without igniting the afterburners. Mr. Conlin said this allows the fighter to get to a fight faster and stay longer because of better fuel efficiency. The aircraft is set to cruise at Mach 1.5-plus without afterburners.
The demonstrator is somewhat like a video game, he said. That could change the stereotype of future fighter pilots.
"I hate to admit it, but the kids who are video gamers will be your best pilots," Mr. Conlin said.
Senior Airman Tim Sikardi of the 82nd Mission Support Squadron said he is into flight simulator games at home, but this simulator was nothing like he has ever encountered.
"It's just a lot more realistic," he said after his turn at the controls. "The graphics are incredible."
Airman Sikardi said, even though people are around you, you focus on the three-paneled screen and do not even notice the others in the hangar.
This was a chance to see one of the newest aircraft that Airmen will be training on in the near future, said Ron Devereaux, the single point manager for F/A-22 avionics at the 365th Training Squadron.
"We're trying to get people here at Sheppard excited about the F/A-22 training here," he said. "That's what this is about."