The Increment 3.2B upgrade to U.S. Air Force's F-22A Raptor air superiority fighters have further delayed, following software stability issues and and performance shortfalls which were revealed during developmental testing.
Increment 3.2B is a top priority modernization effort intended to integrate the latest AIM-120D BVRAAM and AIM-9X short range air-to-air missile systems, an Enhanced Stores Management System (ESMS) for weapons integration and employment improvements, Intra-Flight Data Link (IFDL) improvements and electronic protection enhancements, improved emitter geolocation capability; and integration of a Common Weapon Employment Zone for air-to-air missiles employed by the F-22A.
Developmental testing revealed flight safety and system performance shortfalls in FY16. The program experienced in-flight cockpit display blanking occurrences for which root cause fault analysis in still ongoing.
Flight testing through September 2016 showed improvement with cockpit display stability. The ESMS functionality as tested through the end of FY16 did not ensure proper internal weapons bay door and missile launcher positions, resulting in uncommanded and uncontrollable weapons bay door positions and cycling in f1ight.
As with the display blanking problem, ESMS door shortfalls led to additional flight safety restrictions.
ESMS deficiencies also persisted in the upgraded Operational Flight Program (OFP) software version flown through the end of September 2016 with a possible need for system hardware design changes.
Due to these problems, modification of the remaining three operational test aircraft was delayed until first quarter of FY17.
The delayed modification of the entire nine-aircraft test fleet hinders the program’s ability to conduct four-ship test missions, which are needed to vet key Increment 3.2B capabilities and complete developmental testing within the scope of the Air Force’s schedule.
Due to the limited development progress achieved in FY16, it is unlikely that associated developmental testing will complete as planned at the end of April 2017, or Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) will begin as planned in August 2017.
The F-22A Raptor is world's most advanced fighter jet that combines low observability to threat radars, sustained high speed, and integrated avionics sensors.