An Air Force F-22 Raptor (left) flies with an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter over Florida. USAF Photo by Master Sgt. Jeremy T. Lock
Dave Majumdar, National Interest: The Real Secret to Keeping an F-22 and F-35 Stealth: Their Super Special 'Skin'
While pilots of advanced fifth-generation fighters like the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor or the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter often claim the spotlight, it is the ground crews who maintain those jets’ pristine surfaces that are often the real heroes. Without proper maintenance of their skin, the signature of those advance stealth jets degrade over time—rendering them vulnerable to enemy radar.
“If the pilot’s seen by radar, he can be shot down,” said Senior Airman Joshua Moon, a 192nd Fighter Wing low observables (LO) aircraft structures technician, in an Air Force release issued during the service’s Red Flag exercise in Nevada. “If he isn’t, he can do his mission, go behind enemy lines, and they’ll never even know he was there until it’s too late. Without us, he’s going to get spotted, or shot down, so lives are at risk when it comes to our job.”
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