General Jumper qualifies in F/A-22 Raptor

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. William Powell
  • 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John P. Jumper ended two weeks of training here Jan. 12, flying his qualification flight in the F/A-22 Raptor, the Air Force’s newest fighter aircraft.

“I’ve been involved with the Raptor program for years, in one way or another,” General Jumper said. “Now, to be able to fly it and see all that it does firsthand is quite remarkable. The Raptor does everything we had hoped it would do, plus some.”

To qualify, the general completed more than 50 hours in aircraft systems and avionics academics, received stealth-tactics training emphasizing integrated avionics and super cruise technology, and completed five simulator sessions and three Raptor flights.

“There are no two-seat versions of this airplane, so the instructors couldn’t be kind to me because I’m the chief of staff,” he said. The general learned everything all F/A-22 pilots must learn, including how to deal with emergency situations.

General Jumper said it is necessary for him to be qualified to know firsthand what the aircraft can do and better understand how to use it. Air Force officials said they plan to use the jet as a multirole fighter aircraft to combat anything wherever airspace is contested.

“Every air force in the world is trying to figure out how to beat our Air Force,” General Jumper said. One of the ways to do that is through advanced surface-to-air missile systems.

The Russians have built next-generation surface-to-air missiles that many nations in the world are now adding to their inventory, General Jumper said.

“The Raptor has the ability to dominate that airspace. So, it is not too early to get the Raptor out there,” he said.

The Raptor will also ensure the safety of U.S. pilots against advanced adversary aircraft, General Jumper said.

“The Russians never got out of the fighter-building business. They are delivering aircraft to nations around the world that outperform anything else we have -- except the Raptor,” he said.

Beyond the battles in Iraq and Afghanistan, Air Force officials have to plan for what they might be up against 30 years from now, the general said. Some F-15 Eagles on the ramp today are 25-years-old or older and are becoming outdated.

The Raptor is an air-dominance airplane that has air-to-ground capability, can destroy surface-to-air missile systems that no other airplane can and is able to deal with emerging threats like cruise missiles, General Jumper said.

“We’re trying to replace more than 800 airplanes with the right number of Raptors, which we think is 381,” he said.

The Raptor can do the job not only of the F-15, but also the F-15E Strike Eagle and the F-117 Nighthawk, replacing virtually three types of airplanes with a fleet less than half its former size.

However, smaller numbers do not mean less dominance, he said. Raptor pilots will safely execute each mission behind the controls of the fastest jet in operation.

“Today I flew the Raptor at speeds exceeding (Mach 1.7) without afterburners,” General Jumper said. “To be able to go that fast without afterburners means that nobody can get you in their sights or get a lock-on. The aircraft’s impressive stealth capability, combined with its super cruise (capability), will give any adversary a very hard time.” (Courtesy of Air Education and Training Command News Service)