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Avionics Enhance F-22 Capabilities (Sept. 11)



TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.--- Bullets are not the only things flying at a fighter pilot during the heat of battle. Tons of data from instruments and sensors, plus information from other friendly aircraft, fill the cockpit and bombard the pilot. That was before the F-22 Raptor.

The integrated avionics on an F-22 are designed to gather much of that data and give it to a pilot using concise, consistent methods. Data is prioritized as the battle develops and increases the pilot's situational awareness.

"Three key sensor platforms -- radar, electronic warfare and communications, and navigation and identification -- combine to form the advanced integrated avionics suite that provides the F-22 pilot with unprecedented capabilities," said Bruce Ammerman, a Boeing Co. F-22 avionics director.

Boeing is responsible for integrating the F-22's advanced avionics. The company has been testing software packages in its avionics integration lab since 1998, on its 757 flying test bed since March 1999, and on the F-22 flight-test aircraft since January 2001, according to Boeing officials.

Boeing has conducted more than 21,000 hours of avionics testing in the lab and more than 865 hours on the test bed, officials said.

The integrated avionics concept is designed to increase the pilot's effectiveness by providing as much information as possible without data overload. The process is critical because a pilot could never process all the information flowing into the system, but must be able to make instantaneous decisions about the developing battle that only a human can make.

Conventional fighters require the pilot to analyze data shown on displays from different systems. The F-22 is designed so the systems integrate the data from several sources and provide the pilot with a "battlefield" picture of the current situation.

"A clear advantage over previous generation aircraft is the F-22's ability to gather information from multiple sensors, both onboard and offboard the aircraft, and fuse it to present a comprehensive view of the mission environment," said Ammerman. "Computers process unprecedented amounts of data, so a pilot doesn't have to manage and monitor the system as much -- (there is) less housekeeping."

Each display provides an overall view and all use the same symbols in order to alleviate confusion. Symbols are also color-coded so pilots can quickly distinguish "friend or foe" at a glance.

Even when the pilot is dealing with offensive decisions, the defensive systems continue to give the pilot information about other possible threats in the area. The avionics system even provides the pilot with a "shoot list" prioritized by speed, range and type of threat.

Raptors speak their own language via an intraflight data link that can synchronize the displays of multiple F-22s in formation so that all view the same situation developing.

Integrated avionics means different things to different people, depending on their role in the mission. To a pilot, it means all information is coordinated and available from a single source, and that means more time to concentrate on the business at hand: winning the battle

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Integrated Avionics Give F-22 Unprecedented Capabilities