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Giving F-22 Raptor its senses

U.S. Air Force integrated avionics specialists from the 94th Aircraft Maintenance Unit perform maintenance on an F-22 Raptor at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, July 22, 2019.

U.S. Air Force integrated avionics specialists from the 94th Aircraft Maintenance Unit perform maintenance on an F-22 Raptor at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, July 22, 2019. The components that the specialists are tasked with keeping operational allows the pilot to track, identify, shoot and neutralize threats before being detected. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tristan Biese)

U.S. Air Force integrated avionics specialists from the 94th Aircraft Maintenance Unit perform maintenance on an F-22 Raptor at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, July 22, 2019.

U.S. Air Force integrated avionics specialists from the 94th Aircraft Maintenance Unit perform maintenance on an F-22 Raptor at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, July 22, 2019. If a problem does occur with the F-22 Raptor the specialists first try to solve the problem on the flightline by speaking with the pilot about what the issue may be. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tristan Biese)

U.S. Air Force integrated avionics specialists from the 94th Aircraft Maintenance Unit perform maintenance on an F-22 Raptor at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, July 22, 2019.

U.S. Air Force integrated avionics specialists from the 94th Aircraft Maintenance Unit perform maintenance on an F-22 Raptor at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, July 22, 2019. The specialists take the data transfer cartridge from the aircraft and download the data to a computer to run diagnostics on issues they were unable to fix on the flightline. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tristan Biese)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Zachary Perry, 94th Aircraft Maintenance Unit integrated avionics journeyman, runs checks after performing maintenance on an F-22 Raptor at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, July 16, 2019.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Zachary Perry, 94th Aircraft Maintenance Unit integrated avionics journeyman, runs checks after performing maintenance on an F-22 Raptor at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, July 16, 2019. The F-22 has a combination of sensor capability, integrated avionics and advanced situational awareness technology and it is the duty of the integrated avionics specialists to keep them operational. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tristan Biese)

U.S. Air Force integrated avionics specialists from 94th Aircraft Maintenance Unit perform maintenance on an F-22 Raptor at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, July 16, 2019.

U.S. Air Force integrated avionics specialists from 94th Aircraft Maintenance Unit perform maintenance on an F-22 Raptor at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, July 16, 2019. Due to the simulated deployed environment at Red Flag 19-3, the specialists must know how the aircraft reacts to the different environment and how to correct the issues that come with it. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tristan Biese)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Zachary Perry, 94th Aircraft Maintenance Unit integrated avionics journeyman, performs maintenance on an F-22 Raptor at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, July 16, 2019.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Zachary Perry, 94th Aircraft Maintenance Unit integrated avionics journeyman, performs maintenance on an F-22 Raptor at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, July 16, 2019. Airmen from the 1st Fighter Wing deployed to Red Flag 19-3 to participate in a realistic air-to-air combat exercise with U.S. and allied forces.(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tristan Biese)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Dylan Brown, 94th Aircraft Maintenance Unit integrated avionics journeyman, reattaches a panel after performing maintenance on an F-22 Raptor at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, July 16, 2019.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Dylan Brown, 94th Aircraft Maintenance Unit integrated avionics journeyman, reattaches a panel after performing maintenance on an F-22 Raptor at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, July 16, 2019. It is the job of the integrated avionics specialists to correct the issues with the computer components of the F-22 Raptor and get the aircraft flying as soon as possible. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tristan Biese)

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. --

The F-22 Raptor is one of the U.S. Air Force’s fifth generation fighter aircraft, performing both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions allowing full realization of operational concepts vital to the 21st century fight.

 

With the combination of sensor capability, integrated avionics, and advanced situational awareness technology, the F-22 Raptor airframe allows the pilot to track, identify, shoot and neutralize threats before being detected.

 

“[The F-22] is basically a giant computer,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. David Geller, 94th Aircraft Maintenance Unit integrated avionics craftsmen. “So honestly, think of us as the Geek Squad for the F-22.”

 

If one of the computer components malfunctions, it is the job of the integrated avionics specialists to correct the issue and get the aircraft flying as soon as possible.

 

“Without avionics specialists, we could not fly this aircraft,” said Senior Master Sgt. Brian Hunter, 94th AMU superintendent. “We need their specialty. They take care of everything from communication, radar and radar warning - everything the pilot needs to successfully accomplish the mission.”

 

Due to the simulated deployed environment of Red Flag 19-3, the integrated avionics specialists must know how the aircraft reacts to a different environment. Whether it's the high temperatures, the dry weather, the harsh sun or anything else that may affect the aircraft, the specialists have to adapt to the changes to keep the F-22 operational.  

 

“At the end of the day we ensure that every time our avionics specialists go out and respond to [an issue] that they are giving the most effective and timely fix so we can get that aircraft back into the fight,” Hunter said.

 

If a problem occurs, the specialists first try to solve the problem on the flightline by speaking with the pilot about what the issue may be. 

 

“Here at Red Flag we are simulating a deployed environment,” said Geller. “At the maintenance level, we're supposed to be relying on our teams and not reaching out to anybody.”

 

According to Geller, a problem could usually be resolved just by restarting the systems. However, if the specialists are unable to fix the issue on the flightline, they then take the data transfer cartridge and download the data to a computer to run diagnostics. 

 

Once the specialists pinpoint the issue with the data they’ve collected, they take corrective actions to fix it. They then run another check to ensure the aircraft is ready to complete its mission.

 

“We’re fifth gen so we're top of the food chain for fighters,” Geller said. “So we want to ensure that our jets are ready to go and take the fight to the enemy.”

 

Whether they are at their home station, in a deployed environment or even at a large scale exercise, the integrated avionics specialists of the 94th FS are there to ensure that the computer systems of the F-22 Raptor are functioning properly, allowing the pilot to hit their target when they are called upon.