The Air-Force is going all out in upgrading the F-22 Raptor. These Upgrades will give adversaries nightmares. Alex Hollings of Sandboxx News fills us in on some of these upgrades. He writes (abridged):
Despite the Air Force’s intention to retire the Raptor within the coming decade, the aircraft is expected to remain in service until its replacement — the Next Generation Air Dominance fighter — comes online.
As a result, updates and upgrades are still underway for America’s F-22 fleet — some of which are intended to offer a bridge between the Raptor and the NGAD fighter to come.
In April 2022, we got a glimpse at what some of these upgrades will entail, thanks to social-media posts from US Air Force’s Air Combat Command’s Gen. Mark Kelly, and the branch’s 2023 budget request.
Among them were new stealthy underwing fuel tanks and associated pylons, missiles, and what could be new electronic warfare or infrared search-and-track (IRST) pods. […]
A separate set of underwing pods were also featured in the image shared by Gen. Kelly that many have asserted may house a new electronic warfare suite or perhaps the Raptor’s long-awaited IRST capability.
Infrared Search and Track, or IRST, is a passive means of detecting and targeting enemy aircraft and is among the most effective ways of engaging radar-wicking stealth fighters.
As the name suggests, IRST systems identify heat signatures, which allows a stealth fighter like the Raptor to hunt for enemy jets without broadcasting radar waves that would announce its presence. It also allows a fighter to lock onto stealth targets via the heat of their exhaust.
These pods could also house updated electronic-warfare capabilities meant to improve upon the F-22’s stealth by jamming enemy radar arrays.
Finally, a new missile that could represent the forthcoming (and quite secretive) AIM-260 long-range radar-guided air-to-air missile is also shown, demonstrating the Raptor’s ever-growing suite of Beyond Visual Range (BVR) weapon systems.