Saturday, March 27, 2010

Raptor Heat

It was very interesting watching the F-22s take-off from Nellis AFB during the recent ISAP visit to the base. This, of course, was in the midst of the recent Red Flag exercises. To begin with, we had no restrictions from shooting the airplanes on the ramp, taxi way, last chance or End of Runway (EOR). That meant we could take pictures from the rear quarter, which is unusual. They get very twitchy about that at Edwards AFB.

Secondly, the Edwards take-offs we've seen involves the use of afterburner. This is because it's usually during an Open House and they want to do a maximum performance routine to wow the crowd. Plus, it's a lot more spectacular than a standard, non-afterburner take-off. The two Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 turbofan engines put out 35,000 lbs thrust each in afterburner, but only 23,500 each without, so there is a big difference.

In any event, the Nellis launches were without afterburner. The result was predictably not as impressive (no flame out the nozzles) nor as loud, but it was impressive and loud enough. The angle above did provide a nice visual with the hot exhaust gases blurring the Nellis tower in shimmering ripples of heat. Note also the narrowing of the nozzle lips to constrict the opening to create more thrust. Ah, physics; 'ya gotta love it!

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