Fifth Gen Aircraft Need Better Training Systems

Taking full advantage of the capabilities that fifth generation aircraft such as the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lightning II will bring to any future fight will require improvements in high-tech training systems and to combat training ranges, two former Raptor pilots said. Improved training also will be important for the maintainers who must sustain the fifth gen aircraft’s radar-evading structural features, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian and Col. Max Marosko said in an AFA Mitchell Institute forum. Harrigian, director of the Air Force’s F-35 Integration office, said pilots “can’t adequately train” with the current training systems to fight in the dense integrated air defenses they could face. They will need “an appropriate mix of live, virtual, and constructive training scenarios and exercises,” he and Marosko said in the paper they presented. In addition to improving the ability to combine the electronic elements and actual flying, “we will have to prove to our young aviators that’s the way to go,” Harrigian said. Marosko, deputy director for air and cyberspace at Pacific Air Forces, said to get adequate training for the high-end fight, “we will need to ensure we have a proper range system.” He cited the large range in Alaska as an example. (See also: Ranges and Readiness from the April issue of Air Force Magazine.) (Read the Mitchell Forum paper.)