Raptor takes next step in supersonic JDAM capability

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFMCNS) -- The F/A-22 Raptor, traveling faster than the speed of sound, dropped a 1,000-pound guided Joint Directed Attack Munition over the Edwards range Dec. 1. Since July, the Raptor program has performed seven JDAM supersonic separation test missions under a variety of conditions to prove the JDAM could safely separate from the aircraft. However, none of these tests used a JDAM guidance system.

"This was the first Raptor supersonic guided JDAM; the first one to guide to a target," said Maj. John Teichert, the 411th Flight Test Squadron's test pilot for the mission.

This release marks a dramatic increase in the F/A-22 air-to-ground capability by clearing the first phase of the JDAM supersonic envelope, he said.

"The supersonic envelope allows the Raptor to release precision air-to-ground weapons at long stand-off ranges while performing its Global Strike mission," Major Teichert said.

The supersonic JDAM capability allows the Raptor to deliver the weapon from a much greater distance than any other aircraft.

Dropping a JDAM wasn't part of the plan for the Raptor until fairly recently, Major Teichert said.

"Once the subsonic air-to-ground capability became available late last year, the warfighter immediately recognized the need for an expanded envelope to increase tactical options," Major Teichert said. "The test planning and data analysis to make the supersonic test work in a compressed amount of time was an outstanding feat."

Testers here plan to expand the supersonic JDAM envelope even more in the near future by dropping it from increasingly higher altitudes and greater speeds, and they plan to begin small-diameter bomb testing in 2006.

The F/A-22 Raptor has been under developmental test and evaluation at Edwards since 1998, and is scheduled to become fully operational at the end of December.

The 1st Fighter Wing at Langley Air Force Base, Va., is home to the first three operational F/A- 22 Raptor squadrons.