New Fighter Jets in Utah for Training

New Fighter Jets in Utah for Training

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HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah (AP) -- The U.S. Air Force's newest fighters, the F/A-22 Raptor, arrived for training in Utah's west desert using inert ordnance.

For two weeks, pilots and ground crews for six of the $120 million aircraft will fly alongside F-16s from Hill Air Force Base.

The F/A-22s are based at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia as part of the 27th Fighter Squadron.

The new aircraft is a generational leap beyond other fighters and "the pilots and maintenance crews are the best," said Staff Sgt. Thomas Doscher. "Without those guys, that plane is just a piece of metal on the tarmac."

The F/A-22 Raptor is slightly larger than an F-16 Falcon and has a chiseled, angular fuselage.

"The entire aircraft was designed with stealth in mind," Doscher said. "Panels hide the guns and missiles so they are not visible on radar."

The Raptor also has the ability to "supercruise" -- fly faster than the speed of sound without using the fuel-hungry afterburner. "No other military aircraft has that capability," Doscher said.

It also has advanced avionics and state-of-the-art weapons.

The Air Force plans to maintain squadrons of F/A-22s at Langley and at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska, he said.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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