We can assume that the F-22’s new integral ladder means that Raptor’s CONOPs have changed and that the aircraft can be now operated out of unprepared locations.

Five Air National Guard wings are conducting agile combat training as part of an exercise called Operation Hoodoo Sea in the coastal southeast of the US. Airmen from multiple job specialties will be tasked to operate as multi-capable Airmen, supporting the F-22, KC-135, C-17 and strategic bomber aircraft active in the exercise.

As told by Staff Sgt. Bryan Myhr, 192nd Wing, in the article Five ANG Wings Train at Operation Hoodoo Sea, each participating unit is testing new innovations in agile secure communications, portable aerospace ground equipment and aircraft concealment and survival kits. Additional support for the exercise is being provided by two Air Force Reserve wings, the US Navy, US Coast Guard and other government agencies.

“Airmen with experience working one subset of tasks will be asked to see how they can integrate on different tasks in austere environments,” said Lt. Col. Lawrence Dietrich, 149th Fighter Squadron commander and exercise commander. “At the end of the exercise, if a KC-135 crew chief is taking a post-mission intelligence report from an F-22 pilot and disseminating threat location to a displaced, over-the-horizon bomber force, while a C-17 loadmaster is helping to execute a combat turn on an F-22, then we are exceeding our expectations for this exercise.”

The F-22 Raptor now has a boarding ladder that can be collapsed and stowed inside the cockpit
Airmen assigned to the 192nd Wing, Virginia Air National Guard, receive and inspect F-22 Raptor Aircraft as part of operation Hoodoo Sea on May 1, 2023, at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida. The exercise, led by the Virginia ANG, seeks to test and validate minimum force elements using multi-capable Airmen, executing functions across job specialties and across multiple platforms.

Another goal of the exercise is to test and validate minimum force element using multi-capable Airmen. This makes it possible to scale down a deployment by over 90% of the typical manpower and equipment footprint.

As reported by Alert 5, according to Dietrich, a new F-22 ladder is a new innovation being tested during the military exercise.

This innovation helps to save space and improve the efficiency of F-22 operations during the exercise.

“We’re testing a new ladder that collapses and stows inside the F-22 cockpit,” said Dietrich, who is also an F-22 instructor pilot. “This reduces forward staging requirement of equipment and people for ingress and egress of the cockpit to zero.”

Noteworthy until now F-22’s did not have an integral ladder. Why? Because its CONOPs (Concept of Operations) did not allow for it to be operated out of unprepared locations. It has special logistical needs that require prepared sites, and the US never had any intention of offering an export version. Basically, it wasn’t considered worth the trades in design given the F-22s CONOPs.

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We can assume that the F-22’s new ladder not only improve the efficiency of the aircraft operations during the exercises but also means that Raptor’s CONOPs have changed and that the aircraft can be now operated out of unprepared locations.

Another innovation introduced during the drill is a prototype portable camouflaged, concealment and deception hangar that is staged on the ramp of Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida.

Multiple agencies are simulating an enemy capable of collecting and exploiting unencrypted digital signatures. Radio frequency countermeasures are being tested and Airmen are being evaluated on their ability to use counter human intelligence techniques.

Hoodoo Sea is one of many terms to describe the western Atlantic, bound by the Bermuda Triangle extending from Florida to Puerto Rico.

Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Bryan Myhr and Staff Sergeant Danielle Sukhlall/ U.S. Air Force

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