Update: DIOT&E is now
part of IOT&E
Eight handpicked pilots
and approximately 100 experienced maintainers and engineers of
Detachment 6 at Edwards AFB, California, will put the F/A-22 through its
paces later this year in a progression of tests called Dedicated Initial
Operational Test and Evaluation, or DIOT&E. The tests will ascertain
the operational suitability and effectiveness of the Air Force’s
latest fighter and produce a final report on the Raptor for the US
Secretary of Defense.
Code One editor
Eric Hehs visited with two of the pilots chosen to conduct these tests.
Lt. Col. Art McGettrick and Maj. David Krumm, both veteran F-15C pilots
and Fighter Weapons School graduates, have completed several operational
assignments in the Eagle. McGettrick is the operations officer for the
group. His previous assignments include a stint at Air Combat Command
headquarters where he helped develop F/A-22 requirements and tactics. He
gained operational test experience with the 422nd Test and Evaluation
Squadron at Nellis AFB, Nevada. Krumm is the assistant operations
officer. He previously flew at Kadena and Mountain Home AFB
operationally and acquired operational test experience at the 85th Test
and Evaluation Squadron at Eglin AFB, Florida. Both pilots have more
than 2,000 hours in the F-15.
What were your
initial impressions of the F/A-22?
As of 27 May, I have six hours in the F/A-22. I started flying the
airplane in March 2003. The jet flies wonderfully. The airplane has
tremendous handling qualities. The way the nose moves is amazing. The
airplane rolls and performs great at extremely high angles of attack.
The Raptor’s advantages over an F-15 are remarkable. It flies better
than anything I have ever flown or flown against.
of 27 May, I have forty hours in the F/A-22. I flew it for the first
time in January 2003. I’m impressed by its power. The engines are
unbelievably powerful. I’m also impressed by its stealth, which
provides the jet with an amazing advantage over any adversary. While the
Raptor is a big airplane, it is extremely nimble and powerful. It is
unlike any other fighter.
How were the DIOT&E
An official Air Force board chaired by the commander of Air Combat
Command with all the two-star MAJCOM directors of operations made the
selections. Pilots submitted letters of recommendation, dream sheets,
and all the sorts of things we normally submit for a review board. The
board went through the applications and chose the best ones. All of the
DIOT&E pilots are graduates of the Weapons School. Most are F-15C
pilots, though we have one F-16 and one F-15E pilot. Our detachment
commander is an F-16 pilot. The operational test pilots at Nellis, on
the other hand, are a more balanced mix of F-16, F-15C, and F-15E pilots
because they will be testing the air-to-ground capabilities of the
difference between developmental and operational testing and DIOT&E.
Developmental test takes an airplane or a system in its infancy and
makes sure it works and meets its basic specifications. Developmental
test makes sure a system satisfies its contract requirements. In
operational test, we make sure the system meets the operational specs.
Operational testers release the system to the field and explain to
operators how it works. They also recommend tactics for employing the
For DIOT&E, we employ tactics developed by Air Combat Command for
the F/A-22. We are not developing tactics. The operational test squadron
at Nellis develops tactics. They will also train the initial group of
pilots that form the first training F/A-22 squadron at Tyndall AFB,
Florida. The Nellis squadron also does the follow-on operational testing
and develops tactics. Detachment 6 here at Edwards is taking an early
look at how the airplane performs in an operational environment. We will
evaluate the airplane for about twelve months and write a final report
for the Office of the Secretary of Defense. They will make a high-rate
production decision based on that report.
How are DIOT&E
complete two months of academics and simulators. Then, fourteen training
sorties take the pilots through a graduation mission—a two-versus-two
mission. The first three flights involve aircraft qualification and
instrument check rides. Basically, we make sure a pilot can fly and land
the airplane in these initial flights. We then proceed to an advanced
handling mission, where we perform aggressive maneuvers to experience
how the airplane feels and handles. After that, we perform basic fighter
maneuvers and other missions of increasing difficulty, from
one-versus-one to two-versus-one and two-versus-two. After these initial
fourteen flights, we fly a set of test preparation flights. This
preparation is similar to training required for pilots who are new to
the F-16 or F-15. The rides are a sampling of each of the different
kinds of missions, that is, defensive and offensive missions where we
are either protecting our forces or attacking a simulated enemy.
Overall, DIOT&E pilots fly about thirty times before the actual DIOT&E
The first few pilots who learn to fly the Raptor at Nellis and Tyndall
will use the same pilot training syllabus we used here for DIOT&E.
We’re starting with highly experienced pilots. Tyndall will use a
different syllabus for later pilots. Eventually, Tyndall instructors
will teach young lieutenants—pilots who have never flown a fighter
before. That training requires more rides and more academics. They have
to teach these new pilots not only about the jet but also basic fighter
employment. Transition training, that is training for experienced pilots
transitioning to the Raptor, is closer to the course we have developed
What are the various
functions and responsibilities of the eight DIOT&E pilots?
Krumm: We are
interchangeable in terms of basic flying during the tests. Any pilot can
fly any portion of the tests. Of course, we do more than fly. Each pilot
has specific duties and titles. One is in charge of training and safety.
Another is in charge of standards and evaluation, which pertains to our
check rides. I’m in charge of ensuring that the test runs correctly. I
make sure we adhere to all the requirements for the test.
all will have the same level of training. Each pilot will become an
expert in a specific area. We have assigned people to particular
systems: One to the radar. One to electronic warfare. Another to the
communication, navigation, and identification suite. The system
specialists learn about the systems from the system engineers. They try
to understand their assigned system from a tactical perspective. They
feed what they learn from these experts and from the testing into other
parts of the Air Force, including the Weapons School.
sort of questions are you getting from your fellow fighter pilots?
getting a lot of basic questions. They want to know how the Raptor
flies. Most of my buddies know about the basic aircraft and how it
should work. They want to know if it is working as advertised. I
describe my flight experience and explain that the jet is maturing
rapidly. Its progress in the last two years is amazing.
they ask how the training and tests are going, I try to explain the many
challenges with moving a new major weapons system into operational
Where will the DIOT&E
testing take place?
Krumm: All of
the DIOT&E testing will be done from Edwards. It’s unusual for an
operational test to be located at Edwards. They normally take place at
Nellis or Eglin. It made sense to base the initial test here because
Edwards has the infrastructure needed to support the F/A-22. Operational
testing will migrate to Nellis as they get more airplanes and personnel.
Most likely, some of the DIOT&E pilots here will augment the F/A-22
operations at Nellis, Tyndall, and Langley AFB in Virginia, which will
be the first operational F/A-22 base. DIOT&E pilots will have the
most experience in the combat air forces with the F/A-22 when this
testing is over.
F/A-22 pilots at Nellis and Tyndall are going through their basic F/A-22
training, we will be on the ranges fighting a sky full of bad guys and a
whole bunch of simulated surface-to-air missiles with our planned
tactics. We’re going to come out of this testing with a lot of
experience that other F/A-22 pilots won’t approach for a while.
What is the
relationship between operational and developmental testing at Edwards?
Combat Command personnel have been in the F/A-22 Combined Test Force
almost since the beginning helping with the tests on the engineering
side and the maintenance side. They give the developmental testing
personnel an operational perspective. Personnel associated with
developmental testing at Edwards are helping us with DIOT&E pilot
training. Once DIOT&E starts, however, we will use our pilots, our
maintainers, and our jets on our own out there on the ramp. By law, we
can’t use contractor help during our evaluation unless it is
specifically spelled out by Air Combat Command. Everything must be
Which F/A-22s are
involved in DIOT&E?
are using two developmental test jets, Raptors 08 and 09, and two
operational test airplanes, Raptors 10 and 11. Raptor 07 is a spare for
the four-ship phase. Ships 08 and 09 stay at Edwards at the end of the
testing. Ships 10 and 11 go to Nellis.
Krumm: The jets
have gone through dozens of modifications to ensure they are
operationally representative of what the field will fly. They have some
minor differences, but nothing that affects performance. For example,
the F/A-22s here have some panel and switch placement differences.
Describe the DIOT&E
test plan in terms of adversaries, test locations, and tactics.
Krumm: We used
some assets from Edwards to fly chase early in the training. We bring in
other units to fly as our adversaries as we progress. We use tankers
from other locations as well as a lot of assets from Nellis. We will be
flying on the Nellis ranges.
We plan to use the Aggressor F-16s out of Nellis as our primary
adversaries. They will augment their force with other units. We will
protect B-2, F-117, and F-16 aircraft as part of our own strike
packages. We may have AWACS, if available, and tankers. Other than the
EA-6B Prowler, we don’t plan to use assets from other branches of the
military or from other air forces.
Edwards has excellent
airspace for developmental testing, but the base doesn’t have
simulated threats or the hundred-plus miles of wide-open supersonic
chaff and flare airspace that we really need to perform operational
testing. We’ll use the same ranges Nellis uses for Red Flag exercises.
The testing involves a
number of missions. We will fly against a variety of surface threats. At
first, we’ll fly against a limited number of adversaries and then
multiple adversaries. We’ll protect a B-2 and F-16s. We will defend an
AWACS. We’ll attack high-value assets. We will conduct even more
complex scenarios on the Air Combat Simulator in Marietta. The simulator
reduces costs and provides more realistic threat scenarios. [See related
article in this issue.]
The Chief of Staff of
the Air Force has asked us to work the Global Strike concept of
operations into the test. The concept shapes how the United States will
fight future wars. That is, we kick down the door with stealth and other
support assets. Once the door is down, we flow in legacy aircraft. We
are going to practice that initial strike with the Raptors. We will take
an F/A-22 with a B-2 and simulate going downtown in a hostile
environment against a very high-threat laydown of both air-to-air and
surface-to-air threats. We have to prove that we can take down the
threats, hit the ground targets, and come back out.
How does this
operational testing differ from operational testing of previous USAF
last operational test for a new fighter occurred about thirty years ago
for the F-15 and F-16. Since then, the Air Force has learned a lot of
lessons. The Eagle and Viper were evaluated in terms of effectiveness;
that is, how fast does the airplane fly, how quickly can it turn, and
how many bad guys can it kill. For the F/A-22, we are also evaluating
suitability, which involves how effectively the airplane can be
supported and maintained. We are determining how often an F/A-22 breaks
and how many C-17s are needed to get an F/A-22 squadron to a war. We are
grading suitability in these tests because suitability is just as
important and it was designed into the airplane.
were involved a lot earlier on this program as well. Furthermore, we are
evaluating the aircraft at the mission level. Earlier programs did not
make a concerted effort to fly complex missions with multiple aircraft
and aircraft types and then multiply the complexity by an order of
magnitude in a high-fidelity simulator. We are going to fight a theater
war in the Air Combat Simulator. That is a big difference. On the
maintenance side, we are collecting all of the maintenance data and
rolling it into a computer model to figure out how many people and C-17s
are needed to support the F/A-22. This constructive simulation, as it is
called, can help us calculate life-cycle costs.
characteristics make operational testing more complex. The Raptor is the
first stealthy multirole fighter. No one has built or tested an airplane
like this before. The F/A-22 is a combination of F-15 Eagle with its
air-to-air capability, a Rivet Joint and an AWACS with their advanced
avionics, an F-16 with its air-to-ground capability, and an F-117 with
its stealth. We are testing many aspects new to any fighter.
will DIOT&E testing affect the future of the F/A-22?
Krumm: A lot of
the things we discover will form the foundation of F/A-22 employment.
When we apply tactics developed by ACC to the Raptor, we can tell what
works and what doesn’t work operationally. Our final report may go to
the Secretary of Defense, but we will also write advice for future
pilots. We will explain how to capitalize on stealth, supercruise, and
integrated avionics. Our output becomes the building block for the
initial units. It’s exciting to be a part of that process.
Every aircraft evolves
over its lifespan. Today’s F-16, for example, is nothing like the
original. It is much more capable. The Raptor will improve as it
evolves. The airplane will get better as it incorporates new
technologies. Pilots will fly it differently as it evolves, as it gets
better software, weapons, and sensors. We are doing groundbreaking work,
but operational testing doesn’t end here.
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