The US Air Force’s (USAF) F-22 Raptors and F-35A Lightning II joint strike fighters (JSF) have carried out a joint training mission over the Eglin Training Range, Florida, US.
Involving four F-22 Raptors and F-35A conventional take-off and landing fighters, the trial represented USAF’s first operational integration training mission aimed at improving integrated employment of fifth-generation assets and tactics.
During testing, the aircraft jointly flew offensive counter air, defensive counter air and interdiction missions, exploring ways to maximise their fifth-generation capabilities.
Virginia Air National Guard, 149th Fighter Squadron source and F-22 pilot major Steven Frodsham said: "The missions started with basic air-to-air and surface attacks.
"As the training progressed, the missions developed into more advanced escort and defensive counter air fifth-generation integration missions.
"The lessons learned and tactics developed from this training opportunity will help to form the foundation for future growth in our combined fifth-generation fighter tactics."
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58th Fighter Squadron commander and F-35 pilot lieutenant colonel Matt Renbarger said: "The F-22 was built to be an air-to-air superiority fighter and the F-35 was built to be a strike fighter.
"These airplanes complement each other and we’re trying to learn how to take that from a design perspective into a tactical arena and be the most effective combat team we can be working with the F-22s."
According to the USAF, the training enabled both units to gain operational familiarisation and capture lessons learned to improve future exercises.
The service is planning to team both of the fifth-generation capabilities to efficiently perform missions in future.
In February, Air Combat Command chief general Michael Hostage was quoted by Air Force Times as saying that F-22s will undergo service life extension and modernisation, as they are required to support F-35 fighter.
"If I do not keep that F-22 fleet viable, the F-35 fleet frankly will be irrelevant.
"The F-35 is not built as an air superiority platform. It needs the F-22."
Image: USAF F-22 Raptors and F-35A jets fly in formation after completing an integration training mission over the Eglin Training Range, Florida, US. Photo: courtesy of US Air Force photo / master Sgt Shane A Cuomo.