F-22 Raptor Photographed With New Stealthy External Fuel Tanks

F-22 stealth tanks

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F-22 stealth tanks
The F-22 noticed with the doable new Low Drag Tanks and Pylons and the IRST pods. (Picture: @Task_Force23)

The brand new gas tanks are a part of a package deal of upgrades introduced in 2022.

Two years after the upgrades had been introduced, we would have the primary glimpse of the brand new stealthy exterior gas tanks being developed for the F-22 Raptor. The photograph, posted by @Task_Force23 on X, was captured close to the Mojave Air and House Port and exhibits the Raptor with two fuel tanks, whose form is harking back to the one proven in 2022, and the 2 pods which home an InfraRed Search and Monitor (IRST) system.

The brand new tanks are formally referred to as Low Drag Tank and Pylon (LDTP) and designed to be stealthier and extra aerodynamically environment friendly than the present 600-gallon gas tanks. Within the FY2023 finances request, the Air Drive talked about that the F-22 LDTPs are superior technological designs offering elevated persistence and vary whereas sustaining lethality and survivability, crucial to future mission execution and to sustaining Air Superiority.

The low drag tanks are meant to cut back drag, facilitate supersonic flight with exterior tanks and lengthen the vary of the F-22. The pylons are geared up with good rack pneumatic expertise to precisely management ejection efficiency and easy wind swept floor for minimal drag with out retailer.

A Raptor prototype jettisons the usual gas tanks (Picture credit score: Lockheed Martin)

The FY2025 finances re quest paperwork say that wind tunnel and floor testing of the brand new drop tanks was accomplished final yr, with flight testing deliberate in early 2024. The paperwork additionally state that the complete certification is deliberate for 2025 and supply to operational squadrons is predicted the subsequent yr.

The upgrades for the F-22

A few of the upgrades anticipated for the F-22 Raptor had been unveiled within the Fiscal 12 months 23 finances request documentation and in an official paintings shared by Gen. Mark Kelly, then Commander of Air Fight Command. Within the paintings we will see three Raptors loaded with new stealthy exterior gas tanks, two underwing faceted pods and a brand new unknown air-to-air missile, however there are much more novelties within the paperwork, which unveils a beforehand undisclosed relationship between the F-22 and the event of the Subsequent Technology Air Dominance (NGAD).

The 2 pods put in underneath the outer underwing hardpoints have already been noticed throughout flight testing on an F-22 on the Air Drive’s Plant 42 facility in Palmdale, California, in February 2022. The most recent finances paperwork point out an InfraRed Search and Monitor (IRST) sensor being developed for the F-22, which could possibly be the sensor housed inside the 2 pods, though they might host additionally different capabilities along with the IRST.

The paintings displaying the brand new pods, exterior gas tanks and unknown air-to-air missile. (Picture: U.S. Air Drive)

The addition on the F-22 of an IRST system just like the F-35’s Electro Optical Targeting System (EOTS) would require heavy and costly modifications to the airframe, so a podded resolution appears essentially the most affordable chance. The addition of an inner IRST sensor on the Raptor was additionally thought-about not doable by Lockheed Martin some years in the past.

The last upgrade featured within the paintings is a brand new unknown air-to-air missile. Whereas there are a variety of air-to-air missile applications within the works, it’s doable that the one within the picture could possibly be a consultant design, which can or might not correspond to the true deal, for the extremely secretive AIM-260 missile. Thus far, the missile has by no means been depicted in any type of picture and particulars about this system are very scarce.

The development of the AIM-260, additionally known as Joint Superior Tactical Missile, was first unveiled in 2019 and has been within the works at the very least since 2017. The aim of the brand new long-range air-to-air missile is to interchange the AIM-120 AMRAAM (Superior Medium Vary Air-to-Air Missile) and counter the risk posed by the Chinese language PL-15 missile, whereas avoiding any overseas threats with the ability to outrange the AIM-120.

F-22
File photograph of an F-22 firing an AIM-9 Sidewinder missile. (Picture credit score: Darin Russell by way of Lockheed Martin).

Among the many few identified technical particulars, the brand new missile shall be compatible with the AMRAAM  dimensions, however clearly with higher vary, and is deliberate to be carried within the F-22 weapons bay and on the F/A-18 at first, with the F-35 to observe. Flight assessments are already in progress and the missile is predicted to be fielded by subsequent yr. Due to these causes, it could be affordable to suppose that the one proven within the picture could possibly be at the very least a touch on the AIM-260.

Different upgrades talked about within the finances request are a Mode 5 Identification Pal or Foe (IFF), Hyperlink 16 and  Multifunction Info Distribution System Joint Tactical Radio System (MIDS JTRS), a brand new Operational Combat Program, superior radar Digital Safety, Embedded GPS/Inertial Navigation System (INS) Modernization (EGI-M), Open System Structure (OSA), new encrypted radios.

F-22 Poland
File photograph of a U.S. Air Drive F-22 Raptor throughout aerial refueling with the U.S. Air Drive KC-135 Stratotanker (U.S. Air Drive photograph by Workers Sgt. Kevin Lengthy)

Whereas the Air Drive appears targeted on retiring the oldest Raptors, saying their upgrades can be too costly, is working exhausting to improve the remaining ones to be geared up with cutting-edge capabilities and be related in any state of affairs they might fly into till they’re changed by the NGAD.

F-22 new helmet
Maj. Brett Gedman, 301st Fighter Squadron, readies for a mission sporting the Subsequent Technology Fastened Wing Helmet March 24 at Eglin Air Drive Base, Fla. The forty sixth Check Squadron engineers have begun developmental testing on NGFWH with F-22 pilots whereas the plane are stationed at Eglin. These assessments mark the second spherical of developmental testing for the reason that Air Drive introduced the brand new LIFT-manufactured helmet final yr. (U.S. Air Drive photograph/Samuel King Jr.)

Stefano D’Urso is a contract journalist and contributor to TheAviationist based mostly in Lecce, Italy. A graduate in Industral Engineering he is additionally learning to attain a Grasp Diploma in Aerospace Engineering. Digital Warfare, Loitering Munitions and OSINT strategies utilized to the world of army operations and present conflicts are amongst his areas of experience.



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