back to article 'F-22 Raptor stealth coatings are crap' case goes to court

A former Lockheed stealth-tech engineer has alleged that radar-invisibility coatings on the USA's F-22 "Raptor" ultrasuperfighter are "defective", and that Lockheed supplied them knowing that this was the case. It has now been confirmed that Darrol Olsen's whistleblower lawsuit will be heard in federal court. An F-22 Raptor …


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  1. John G Imrie

    Arms suplyer rips of Government.

    and later in our thread of investigative journalism.

    Arboreal deification secrets of ursids , and religious leanings of Pope.

    I guess my cynicism is showing again.

  2. h4rm0ny

    There's a brave man...

    He'll be found in the woods after an unexpected suicide before the year is out. (probably).

    A well-deserved pint for any legitimate whistleblower, though.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All hogswash

    this coating - even the Brit Rapier missile system gets a decent lock on it as well as most civilian radar sets. It's just black paint will a few bits of iron fillings in it. Cost ot make £5/litre from B & Q, cost to US govt, $300 million. You have to wear special suits when applying it or people would notice it washes off the skin with soap and water and a bit of Persil rids it completely from your overalls.

  4. Glen 1

    in before...

    someone pointing out that story - about eurofighters picking the raptor up on radar, winning the fake engagement,

    followed by the septics pulling the raptor from the exercise, and complaining how they weren't in stealth mode...

  5. Neil 7


    "The Raptor is universally considered to be far and away the most capable air-to-air fighter jet in the world"

    How come the Eurofighter p1ssed all over the F22 when they came head to head?

    Not to mention the Eurofighter during trials in the US got radar lock on the F22 beyond visual range and also far outclassed it when within visual range.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Has anyone seen my coat?

    It was on that peg over there...

  7. Andrew Culpeck

    put up or shut up

    Why not get a Lockheed cometitor to test the radar sig. on an early F-22.

  8. Ysean

    @Neil 7 -- twit

    Next time you make a statement you had better check the source you are using to substantiate your statement. Upon viewing the link to the scostman it was impossible to miss that the article was speaking of F-15E aircraft. These are most definitely NOT F-22s. They are updates of 40+ year old aircraft.

  9. Colin_L

    @Neil 7 -- fail, indeed

    Your link refers to a 1995 encounter between the Eurofighter and two F-15Es. The F-15 was developed in the lates 60s and flew first in 1972. The E variant officially arrived in 1989.

    It's no F-22 for sure. :-P

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Just to point it out, but the link provided by Neil 7 actually refers to F-15, not F-22. The F-15 is a much older aircraft.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    @John G Imrie

    Mr Imrie, would it be pedantic to say ursine deification (Arctolatry, or bear worship, has been widespread amongst circumpolar cultures from the middle Paleolithic) and most probably wouldn't expect to involve getting your holy bears to take a ritual dump in the woods?

    Getting that wrong could be messy .

  12. Chris 86
    Thumb Down

    f15 <> raptor

    @Neil 7 - your link refers to the typhoon besting 2x F15s, not f22 raptors.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    @Neil 7

    Shh, you'll upset Lewis if you point out that British/European kit is more capable than what the Americans have. To learn that would shatter his whole world view. Let's just keep it a secret, shall we?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not the first time

    It wouldn't be the first time that the military had knowingly sent an inferior or defective weapon into combat.

    We all remember the debacle over early M16 (Marines were actually forced to use condoms as dust covers to keep the dirt and damp out of the rifle mechanisms) and it's well known that the survival data on the Bradley was manipulated in order to get it approved for front line service.

    Personally, I'm more concerned that billions of dollars of tax payers money are being spent on a stealth aircraft when most of America's enemies either have no radar at all (Alquida, the Taliban, etc) or have radar that was considered obsolete 30 years ago (Iran, North Korea). The biggest enemy right now is the IED, tax payer's money would be better spent on body armor and conventional helicopters. At the end of the day both can save more American lives (and at a much lower dollar rate) than the F-22 ever could.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Re: Bias?

    That is F15 ya goof.

    In any case, until F22, Eurofighter meet Sukhoi 37 in at least mock air-to-air combat the jury will be out on that one. IMO the Eurofighter is pretty much dead meat in that company. The maneuverability of both Su-37 and F22 is way above it because of the thrust vectoring and the fact that the Eurofighter has superior acceleration and clim rate is going to be of very little help here.

  16. My Alter Ego

    @Neil 7

    While it would be great to see the look on Lewis' face to hear about the Typhoon pissing on an F-22, that article refers to a flight of F-15Es.

  17. Jon999

    @Neil 7

    The link you sent was for how 1 Eurofighter beat two F15, not F22.

    That is a hell of difference.

    F15 had its maiden flight in 1972. Not really comparable, even though F15 generally is regarded as the most successful fighter in history.

    I remember watching a Discovery program about the F22, to fend of any negative comments about the F22 did Lockheed Martin organise a training mission where they had 16 F15s against two F22. The F15s where "shot" down in without ever even seeing the F22s

  18. Anonymous Coward

    @Neil 7

    Read again. "two F-15 aircraft"

    Congratulations! The Typhoon can take on two planes which entered service in the '70s. Indeed a stunning victory!

  19. Joe Cooper

    F-15E == F-22??

    The article linked clearly spells out that the Eurofighter nailed two Strike Eagles -- the fatter, less fighting-oriented version of the 30 year old F-15.

    Where's the confusion coming from?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Change of venue

    "Lockheed has now supplied us with a statement saying that the case was transferred to Georgia at the company's request, and that co'porate lawyers haven't yet filed their response to Olsen's suit."

    Venue changed to the Allan and Malcolm Loughead Memorial Courthouse. Inb4 Chewbacca defense, Olsen is a terr'ist, etc.

    @Andrew, can't do that, proprietary information, national security, and on, and on and on. Besides the competitor clearly has an axe to grind. Nope, you'll just have to trust us on this one.

  21. SkippyBing

    @ Neil 7

    Probably worth reading up on how the F-22 did on its first Red Flag exercise before writing it off...

  22. Martin 6 Silver badge


    Does this leak mean the Taliban will be able to adapt their own air superiority fighters to defeat the F22?

    How many lives could be lost due to this terrible breach of secuity?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just buy a Doppler radar system

    Any half decent Doppler radar system can spot a "Stealth" plane a long way off.

  24. Gannon (J.) Dick
    Thumb Up

    Nashinal Sekurity

    By Anonymous Coward Posted Friday 13th November 2009 20:12 GMT

    Any half decent Doppler radar system can spot a "Stealth" plane a long way off.

    Trust the Weatherman. I had no idea the fate of the Nation depended etc. etc.

  25. thomas newton

    @ AC re the M16

    Slipping a rubber johnnie over the rifle muzzle is a common enough practice with any weapon to keep dirt and water out of the mechanism.

    the *real* problems with the M16 were due to the fact that it was issued with no cleaning kit and an unannounced change in the type of gunpowder used in the ammunition caused excessive fouling - exacerbated by the direct - impingement gas system's sensitivity to dirt.

  26. Neil 7

    @Neil 7 from Neil 7

    U arse! :)

    OK, I was in a rush at work trying to find a link to the Eurofighter getting lock on the F-22 and didn't fully read the Scotsman article which I found linked from a forum discussing the F-22... sighs. Sorry chaps. Anyway, I'm still sceptical that the F-22 is "is universally considered to be far and away the most capable air-to-air fighter jet in the world".

  27. Anonymous Coward

    Party Pooper Here

    It could be that work on a better coating was being conducted in parallel with an eye to retrofitting/updating the planes after they were delivered but before they went on active status.

    Sorry if this possibility does not fit in with conspiracy theories or ideological outbursts caused by UK/European feelings of inferiority stemming from when the US had to save your asses from total annihilation by a state with a fraction of your population and resources.

  28. Adam White

    Expensive paint

    It wouldn't suprise me that the cool looking dark grey paint isn't particularly important to reducing the F/A-22 signatures, but what I'd like to know is how much did LM charge the customer for it?

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    R u som kn O moron ?

    "Sorry if this possibility does not fit in with conspiracy theories or ideological outbursts caused by UK/European feelings of inferiority stemming from when the US had to save your asses from total annihilation by a state with a fraction of your population and resources."

    Huh?? what state would that be?

    ps. At least no European nation needed the French navy to gain independence.

  30. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    @ Gannon (J.) Dick

    "Any half decent Doppler radar system can spot a "Stealth" plane a long way off."

    Aha. So that's why the Met office has such fine equipment.

  31. archie lukas

    The Emporers Vew Clothes scenarion

    If you don't mention it, we won't mention it.

    Job done, here's the bill.

  32. Anonymous Coward

    RE: Party Pooper Here

    Indeed, prehaps you should have left us to it, that way you would have seen the Japs sneak up on you in Pearl Harbour.

    I'll see you after school in the playground for a bitch slap fight, we'll settle it that way.

  33. Anonymous Coward

    War is hell...

    So "...The Raptor is universally considered to be far and away the most capable air-to-air fighter jet in the world..."?

    You forgot to add " the Americans and Lockheed Martin..."

    Like someone else observed our Rapier system can lock it up. It's certainly next-gen but more in terms of manoeuvrability and weapons / platform integration. It has stealthy features also but it's far from invisible. You'll also know about the tactics employed at Red Flag and who took their ball home crying their little eyes out when the Typhoon got various locks at VR and BVR.

    As for it's flippy high-alpha parlour tricks, one former RAF pilot said:

    "I'd love it if I was dogfighting and the enemy stopped right in front of me"

    F22 Raptor - Brought to you by the military who think all you need to fight a war are Coca-Cola and camcorders.

  34. wv9e


    Just an attempt to make public what these materials are and also to make a malcontent seem like a hero. Probably win the nobel prize in physics... if he opens the right box of cracker jacks.

  35. avalon111
    Thumb Down

    Hopeless Raptor

    The F22 requires 100 hours per hour of flight in maintenance, similar to a degree to the AH-64 Apache - another aircraft hopelessly unsuited to intensive battlefield duties beyond having one or two available at any one time in Afghanistan.

    The best the F22 can do is turn up at "Red Flag" exercises.

    No doubt though, the stealth paint does work on an F22. The snag is dogfights can and do occur. Beyond Visual Range engagements are okay in theory, but the fear of shooting your own down, or an airliner packed full of passengers is such that pilots still like to see what they are shooting at.

    And if an F22 is seen by a Eurofighter/EF2000, then it is stuffed. Actually if an F22 is seen by an F16/F15 or Gripen/Rafael/J-10 (that's a US/IAF 'Lavi' in Chinese markings) then it is stuffed; the Raptor depends utterly on not being visually spotted, and in any case the infra-red pod mounted on later Tranche Eurofighters (just in front and to one side of the cockpit) ensures that a Eurofighter can hunt for Raptors with its radar turned off, and anything that broadcasts radar over a modern future battlefield (such as the Taiwan Straits) is dead.

    I'm not entirely sure how the F22 fits in with modern aerial warfare; it can hardly carry any load, not being fitted with non-radar absorbing external strongpoints, it doesn't have vectored thrust (like a modern MIG such as those flown by India) it can't do the "swing-role" for air defence and ground attack like a Eurofighter or F16 can do, and worst, it can't fly more than one sortie a day without skipping maintenance.

    The USAF will get just 137 of them, the Air National Guard none, and the USAF is retiring over 200 F15 & F16's in the near future due to them reaching their airframe limits.

    The USAF desperately needs a proper, easy-to-produce single-seat fighter; something like a modern Mustang, with a good radius, ease of maintenance and no reliance on onboard radar. At present even the North Koreans will overwealm the USAF Pacific forces with just sheer wight of numbers, even if the kill ratio is 10:1.

  36. akryu

    Re: avalon111

    Oh where to begin...

    Eurofighter - no AESA radar, no thrust vectoring, supercruises around 1.3M in a clean config, only 160 total for RAF in 3 tranches, contains exported U.S. technology ( EADS can't sell outside of Europe without U.S. approval), billed as multirole a/c

    F-22 - AESA radar, thrust vectors +/- 20 deg pitch, supercruises above 1.6M, 187 total authorized (not 137), contains U.S. technology that is by law cannot be exported, air superiority a/c

    The F-22 is designed to remove any airborne threats to allow the F-35, F-15E, or F-16 to enter enemy airspace and take out ground targets. In a Nato mission, the F-22 would clear the way for the Rafale, Eurofighter, or Gripen as they are all ground attack a/c.

    The Eurofighter is not stealthy. It may have a reduced front angle radar cross section while flying clean, but as soon as you install external fuel tanks, targeting pod, or missiles/bombs, the RCS increases as does the drag on the a/c.

    If an enemy has a radar, IRST, or any tech that can expose an F-22, then the Eurofighter or any other fighter for that matter wouldn't have a chance in hell.

    I don't know where you get the idea that the North Koreans could take on PacAF. PacAF alone has enough firepower to take on any country's air force in the pacific with the exception of maybe China. One U.S. carrier group has enough firepower to do the same. The J-10 is a poor copy of the F-16 with inferior Russian built engines. I doubt its a match for any fighter we currently operate.

    Besides, Eurofighter, A400M, Galileo, are all proof that Europeans are only good at running their mouths. Why don't you go and turn on your Sky and watch some American tv, or maybe go to the cinema and watch an American movie, or go listen to some American music on your radio. You really need to get over the whole "penis envy" thing. It's pathetic.

  37. akryu

    while I'm here...

    "our Rapier system can lock it up"

    Your telling me that a system designed in the 1960s and upgraded through the years can track an F-22? O.K. Explain something to me then. When and where did your rapier system get a lock on an F-22? Was it the one time the F-22 was over Britain during Farnborough? Because that would be the only time the Raptor would have ever been in a position to be tracked by the rapier system that I can think of.

    I know this was in the early 80s, but the rapier system earned its rep during the Falklands. However, of the aircraft it had supposedly shot down, it was later found that it had shot down only a quarter of its initial claimed kills. So basically, it earned its rep taking credit for something it didn't do.

    So explain something for me since I'm just a fat, dumb American. If your rapier system can take out a stealth aircraft, then why isn't every country in the world beating down your door trying to get the rapier for themselves?

    Who operates this state of the art stealth killer anyways? Lets see... Iran, Libya, Brunei, Zambia, Turkey, Malaysia, Oman, Switzerland, and of course, the U.K. With the exception of the U.K. and Turkey, all I see are countries with 3rd rate militaries. Yet, apparently, they are all impervious to stealth aircraft.

    "when the Typhoon got various locks at VR and BVR."

    So let me get this straight. The typhoon's CAPTOR radar is so good that it can pick up a stealth aircraft, yet in order to secure exports of the typhoon,the Eurofighter consortium is trying to upgrade the typhoon's radar to an AESA radar. American aircraft like the F-18, F-16, F-15, F-22, and future F-35 have AESA radars yet our F-18s, F-16s, and F-15s can't pick up a Raptor on radar. So, our AESA radars can't pick up the Raptor, yet your CAPTOR, which is a downgrade from AESA, can lock on to a Raptor. Huh. So that begs the question, why upgrade to AESA if CAPTOR can pick up a stealth aircraft? Why isn't every Air Force in the world beating your door down to get CAPTOR radars for their aircraft? Why isn't every air force in the world trying to get their hands on the Eurofighter since it so obviously is superior to anything America has?

    "As for it's flippy high-alpha parlour tricks, one former RAF pilot said:

    "I'd love it if I was dogfighting and the enemy stopped right in front of me""

    I'm sure every fighter pilot would too. An air show is just that - a show. No fighter pilot in his right mind would pull a Cobra maneuver during a fight. The Su-30 and F-22 are just showing off their thrust vectoring capabilities during the show. So explain something else to me. If thrust vectoring is so useless, why is the Eurofighter consortium trying to add thrust vectoring to the Typhoon's arsenal? I mean, if thrust vectoring is only good for a parlour trick, then why would EADS be so interested in adding it to the Eurofighter?

    "Indeed, prehaps you should have left us to it, that way you would have seen the Japs sneak up on you in Pearl Harbour."

    Left you to it? To what? Getting bombed every night by the luftwaffe. If it wasn't for the Nazi's declaring war on us after the Pearl Harbor attack, we might have just left you to it. The only reason why we were illegally sending Britain supplies during our so-called neutrality in '39 and '40 and why we sent you military supplies in our lend-lease agreement was because Churchill was constantly trying to get Roosevelt to involve America in your conflict. The U.S. committed 90% of its war material to Europe after Germany declared war on us. The only reason the Japs lasted as long as they did was because we were busy helping you. You are correct though, the Japs snuck (sneaked) up on us, but we got 'em back good didn't we?

    "Shh, you'll upset Lewis if you point out that British/European kit is more capable than what the Americans have."

    If your kit is so much better than ours, then why does the Eurofighter have so much American kit in it that EADS has to get U.S. government approval before selling it to countries outside Europe like when the MoD so Typhoons to Saudi Arabia? If your kit is so much better, then why use our kit in your aircraft?

    "Any half decent Doppler radar system can spot a "Stealth" plane a long way off."

    If that's true, then why is every plane manufacturer from Sukhoi, to EADS, to Saab, to Dassault, building aircraft with reduced radar cross sections and reduced infrared signatures? I mean, if stealth doesn't work, then why are they all trying to build stealthier aircraft?

    So the Eurofighter consortium wants to incorporate thrust vectoring (like F-22 and Su-30) and an AESA radar (like future Russian and current U.S. aircraft) on the Eurofighter even though the commenter's here believe their completely useless and that the typhoon is a superior aircraft. Sounds to me like the Eurofighter consortium is trying to upgrade their plane so it can compete with U.S., French, and Russian aircraft like in the Indian tender. Sad part is, in the Indian tender, the Eurofighter has to be upgraded to compete with late model f-16s and F-18s.

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