the article was a nice read
Pilots Say Raptor Provides Advantage (Posted: Tuesday, October 18, 2005)
BY: Jim Hodges, Newport News (Va.) Daily Press
LAYTON, UTAH -- Bill Creeden remembers his first flight in an F-15 Eagle.
"The plane was older than I was," said Creeden, now a 27-year-old Air Force captain from Manassas. "But I thought, 'Hey this is training, so I shouldn't be surprised.' "
Then he got to Langley Air Force Base.
"When I got here, the plane was older than I was, too," Creeden said.
No more. He's flying the F/A-22 Raptor in two weeks of exercises that begin today at Hill Air Force Base. To him, it's like driving an expensive car he just bought.
"It looks, smells, feels new," said Creeden, who picked up 4.7 hours - pilots count their experience in six-minute increments - in the Raptor on Saturday, flying it from Langley to Hill.
That's one reason he's excited about flying the Air Force's new fighter.
Maj. Chuck Corcoran has another, gleaned from sitting in the back seat of a Russian Su-27 on an exchange visit.
"It was eye-opening," he said. "What was really eye-opening was how they go about training their pilots. They're getting more and more experienced."
That means they're getting better, and Corcoran isn't into jousting. With foreign technology catching up to the Air Force's staple, the F-15, he doesn't want to go against a well-trained pilot in equal equipment.
"If I can blow up a threat before he knows I'm there, that's what I want," said Corcoran, who is plainly enamored with the Raptor's stealth capability, both against other planes and surface-to-air missiles that are getting increasingly sophisticated.
"This plane can go places that an aluminum plane just can't. With the F-15, we'll probably both get a shot."
The last thing a pilot wants is to be a flying target in a gun - or missile - fight.
It's why Corcoran is in love with the Raptor.
Jim Hecker's reason is mathematical and goes to an exercise two years ago in which F-15 pilots fought Russian MiG-29s flown by Indian pilots.
"We were trading plane-for-plane," said Hecker, a lieutenant colonel who commands Langley's 27th Fighter Squadron, the first unit to fly the Raptor.
He admitted that it scared him, because the last thing a pilot wants is competition in the sky.
Later, he flew F-15s against Su-27s in an exercise in Malaysia. The American planes made out better that time, but not better enough.
"We want to win every fight 59-0," Hecker said.
He figures he can pitch a shutout every time with a Raptor.
Ask any of them about federal budget cutbacks that reduce the number of F/A-22s the Air Force can buy to 179 and you get the same answer. They admit that it's the company line.
"The Air Force says it needs 381 to perform its mission," Corcoran said. "I've heard it over and over again."
Even though it's getting harder to find the parts necessary to keep the F-15s in the air, their use probably will be extended as long as possible because fewer Raptors are being bought.
Fewer F/A-22s mean "we'll just be busier," Hecker said. "There will be more for us to do."
So how many are enough, without the company line?
"You'll know 40 years from now," said Capt. Shawn, a Raptor instructor who is in town to see if there's anything else he should be teaching the pilots.
He laughed and added, "Everybody will be sitting around the table and asking each other, 'Did we have enough Raptors?' "
the article was a nice read
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