Operational F-22s Fly “Short” Archer

Chalk up another first for the new F-22A—operational pilots launching operational air-to-air missiles in a combat-type employment. Pilots of the first operational Raptor unit, the 27th Fighter Squadron at Langley AFB, Va., fired AIM-9 and AIM-120 missiles at drones flying over the Gulf Mexico for a weapons systems evaluation program, known as Combat Archer. Normally a two-week affair, the Raptors only flew one day to help prepare the WSEP team, the 83rd Fighter Weapons Squadron at Tyndall AFB, Fla., for a full-scale F-22A deployment this summer. A key issue was whether the Florida unit could pick up the missile telemetry after missile launch from the fighter’s internal weapons bay. It worked.