An F-22, the single most expensive fighter jet in the world, at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida suffered from an unusual and dangerous problem — compromised stealth.
To enemy radars the F-22 doesn’t look like it’s 62 feet long and 44 feet across, it looks like a marble.
The extreme stealth capabilities of the F-22 render it a “very low observable” aircraft, ideal for penetrating heavily defended enemy airspaces. Because of the technological breakthroughs in the F-22, the US Air Force can project power anywhere on earth.
So when a mechanical issue compromised the stealth of one F-22, it was a big problem. Luckily, the airmen present fixed the problem quickly and cheaply.
“During roll call, our expediter (an experienced crew chief responsible for coordinating required maintenance taskings) gave out the tasks for the day. My task was to figure out why we were having this re-occurring problem with one of the jets,” said Senior Airman Samuel Privett, a 23 year-old load crew member of the 43rd Aircraft Maintenance Unit, according to a US Air Force release.
Because the government closely protects the specifics of the F-22 program, the public can’t know the exact issue with the F-22’s stealth.
“It took us about two days and several people overall to finally nail it down,” said Privett, who used the in-house fabrication machine to forge a $250 dollar solution that salvaged the $140 million plane, also saving 200 hours of maintenance and valuable flight time for the jet.
Thanks to Privett and his team, who he says were instrumental in the task, the F-22 now joins only 186 others in service.