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Aircraft Review : Lockheed Martin F22A Raptor by AOA Simulations The USAF's Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) program, was a demonstration and validation program undertaken by the United States Air Force to develop a next-generation air superiority fighter to counter emerging worldwide threats, including Soviet Sukhoi Su-27 and Mikoyan MiG-29 fighters that were under development in the 1980s. Lockheed and Northrop were selected in 1986 to develop the YF-22 and the YF-23 technology demonstrator aircraft. These aircraft were evaluated in 1991 and the Lockheed YF-22 was selected and later developed into the F-22 Raptor. Personally I thought the sensational Northrop YF-23 was the better aircraft (certainly the most arresting visually), the final selection however was the Lockheed Martin YF-22, which looked bland against the YF-23. The aircraft was variously designated F-22 and F/A-22 before it formally entered service in December 2005 as the F-22A. It is a 5th Generation single-seat, twin-engine, all-weather stealth tactical fighter aircraft. The aircraft F22A was designed primarily as an air superiority fighter, but it is also has ground attack, electronic warfare, and signal intelligence capabilities. 195 (8 test and 187 operational aircraft) were built between 1996–2011. The Raptor aircraft produced here for the X-Plane Simulator is by AOA (Angle of Attack) Simulations in conjunction with another, in the T-7A Red Hawk in the same T-X program procurement requirements, I thoroughly liked the AOA T-7A as it was a very clever aircraft and very interesting to fly, and so was excited in the release of the F22A Raptor. The AOA F22A Raptor Package comes with three variants; A2A, A2G and an EFT A2A - MISSILE (A2A) MODE - (6) AIM-120 radar guided missile/(2) AIM-9X short range missiles _____________ A2G - BOMB (A2G) MODE - (2) GBU-32 1000-pound GPS guided bomb/(4) AIM-120 radar guided missile/(2) AIM-9X short range missiles _____________ EFT - EXTERNAL FUEL TANKS (8,000 lbs) - (6) AIM-120 radar guided missile/(2) AIM-9X short range missiles On every variant there is also a M61 20 mm rotary cannon placed high right above the engine intake. _____________ First impression are that AOA has got the look and feel of the stealth fighter very well. There is a nice sheen to the composite panels that makes the aircraft look authentic. The chiselled eagle style beak looks excellent, but on closer inspection the modeling is not as curved or as sharp as it should be, you have to look for the details, but at this level you do expect almost perfect curved lines of where it counts. Worse is that the fuselage and wing detail is quite Lo-Res, the textures are 4096x4096, but not Hi-Res by the poor jaggies that are easily seen not only on the aircraft but also on the texture file. I am quite disappointed here as the early T-7A had the same Lo-Res feel and AOA updated the textures in the v1.1 update, so why do it again in this their most important product to date? That said the modeling is quite creative in areas like the forward engine inlets, and overall fuselage and wing shape is very good. The upper fuselage vanes can also be manually opened and controlled. The movable engine exhaust (vector) vanes are well done as are the twin-engine exhaust outlets... The main undercarriage is also really well modeled and detailed, with nice strut supports with detailed information labels... ... the internal wheel-bay images are very (really) good, but again are quite fuzzy in detail close up, but at a distance do the job. The tyres and wheel hubs are also not super detailed, certainly there is no high detailed realism here in like say a real rubber feel to the tyres. I like the tinted colour of the glass canopy, but the glass itself is quite average. It has no depth or wear detail, and even in the complex curve of the glass there are line peaks that can easily be seen? At this level you can have the quality and the detail, and as an example here is the canopy of the JustFlight Bae T/1A Hawk Do you see the point? Open side missile bays show off the excellent AIM-9X short range missile Menu The Raptor's menu is a dropdown from the X-Plane/Plugins/AOA Simulations F-22 Raptor menu Top is; Previous Livery/Next Livery - Enable/ Disable R2c - Enable/ Disable GCAS - Next Weapon Mode/Previous Weapon Mode - Toggle 2D/3D Cockpit - Toggle Ground Equipment - Toggle Glass Reflections - Open/Close IFR Receptacle - Open/Close Wep(weapon) Bay Doors - Flight Control Test - About Ground Equipment For some strange reason I got both a Red and then a Yellow ladder with the same AOA aircraft? so which one is the default I don't know? The "Remove Before Flight Tags" are all very nice and move around in the wind. Chocks and F22/US Airforce branded engine inlet/outlet covers are also really nice. Quirky is the fact that to have the static elements shown, you also have to have the canopy open, that is fine, but you also then have to have the canopy powered on... turn off the aircraft's power and you can't use the static elements? The ladder needs to be separated from the other static elements to have both (the pilot needs to disappear as well). The IFR Receptacle (In Flight Refueling) is set centre on the top of the fuselage, the menu option opens or closes it. Most of the other important Menu options will be covered later on in the review. Inside the cockpit there is a well modeled pilot, his head is fully animated as well and moves to all your stick movements. Cockpit First of all it is quite tight in there, and the pilot here feels like an option, and not the focus of the aircraft... it is also the Tesla sort of approach to instrumentation, the less you have the better it is, this stark almost empty cockpit is nothing at all like a Cold-War era clockwork environment. There is a note that this cockpit layout is not an authentic F22 cockpit. That aspect is still a Military secret(s), unless you are a Russian or Chinese spy... so AOA has had to a point create a sort of fictional layout of the Raptor. But in seen available (images) areas the duplication is very good. But overall "Minimalistic" would be the word to describe the cockpit. Left side panel has (Top to Bottom)... Hook (UP/DN), Landing Lights and Landing Gear lever. Start Switches (1&2), Fire Extinguishers (1&2), A/B (Afterburner) Generators (1&2) and the APU Panel. The twin throttle levers are short and stubby... and very nice. To their left is the De-Ice switch and the ECS (Environmental Control System) switch. Four switches cover Flaps, LG (Landing Gear), GCAS (Ground Collision Avoidance System) and Speedbrake functions that toggle between their "Manual" and "Automatic" settings. Finally there is the Fuel (Engine Cutoff) switches and the "Fuel Dump" button. Right side panel (Top to Bottom)... Parking Brake, Canopy (Open/Closed), IFR (Open Closed) and Helmet - Noise Cancel. Right of the really nicely modeled Joystick is the NAV/COM panel, with the IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) set behind. Final switches cover the lighting panel for Navigation and Strobe lights and the internal "FLOOD" light adjustment. Overall you should be able to easily adjust to this more simple switchgear layout quite quickly. Instrument Panel The main instrument panel has Four large military style MFD (Multi Function Displays) lower and two smaller MFDs set higher in the eyesight line, centre top is the UFC, or a large "Up Front Control panel". Each MFD has two view options - LP1 /LP2 or RP1/RP2 or lower P1/P2... the centre MFD is the X-Plane G1000 moving MAP and options. (Left) LP1 MFD has; Engine N2 % output, Auto System Options and APU condition. LP2 has NAV and TACAN modes. (Right) RP1 has four modes; Checklist, FCS test, low speed and high speed modes. Shown above is the Low Speed Mode... High Speed Mode only works when the aircraft's speed is TAS 400 knts or more. Shown below is (left) Checklist and right the FCS. RP2 is noted as the "Radar Situation Display" but basically it is your Heading dial. Deep down lower is a third MFD that covers the engine and fuel readouts, again there are two page selections in P1 or P2... ... P2 is the weapons system outline of stores and fuel, this is the same display that is shown also in the right upper MFD as the " High Speed Mode" page. Eyesight level on the instrument panel are two two smaller MFDs set out outward of the centre UFC - "Up Front Control panel". Left MFD of the UFC is the Navigation/Communication Panel, and TACAN X and Y codes are built in. Built in also is the Aircraft System Status (ASS) display that shows the status of 20 Systems.... Now I do actually have a sense of humor, but I certainly hate things like this in a professional cockpit, The ASS will say things like "Dude Wake UP!", "Good To GO" or "WOW" on the brake selection (The WOW actually is correct, as it stands for "Weight On Wheels"). Overall it is only silly, but also not in keeping of the sense of being a serious pilot, and in reality is simply not funny either and down grades the product to a bit of a joke. The MFD to the right of the UFC is the Backup Attitude Display panel, or simply a backup Artificial Horizon, Heading, Altitude and Speed Tapes... You can switch the barometric pressure display from inches to millibars, and with the change the font style also changes in the UFC. The UFC - "Up Front Control panel" is basically the "Autopilot" panel with other functional buttons. The Right side of the UFC is the autopilot selection and readout screens. Top to bottom; HDG (Heading), SPD (Speed), ALT (Altitude), VS (Vertical Speed) and TF or Terrain Following... the opposite knob is the selection tuning knob... ... top row of selection buttons covers; Timer, AP (Autopilot), Servos (activate AP), LOC/VOR, G/S (GlideSlope) and FX. The FX setting is basically like the menu setting of turning on or off the reflection settings. Many of the other selections are simply X-Plane features that pop-up; ATC, CHK LST (Checklist), LOG (Logbook), MAP (Local map) are all default X-Plane. GND Crew is simply the static elements, Bay Doors opens all the armament compartments, AVI Tab opens up the AviTab tablet and the TST (Test) button highlights all the instrument functions... ... Two more buttons are for functions in QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) that does a quick auto start of the auxiliary power unit (APU) and engines. Another is the R2C or "Roll to See". Either side of the UFC are the panel and HUD brightness adjustment wheels... but odd is that the right side MFD (and centre MAP) brightness is controlled from the left lower wheel? HUD The Raptor uses a Head Up Display (HUD) to visually communicate the aircraft's performance and navigation information, the HUD is switched on via the left UFC switch. Magenta letters above the box are compass cardinal headings (N=North, NE=North East and so on), next GPS destination, in nautical miles is also shown. In the center of the HUD is the GPS destination steering "tad pole;" a circle with a pointy stick protruding from it. The stick rotates around the ball and always points toward the GPS destination. Indicated Air Speed (IAS) is displayed in a box on the left of the HUD, altitude in a box on the right. Rate of climb and Rate of Descent (V/S) are also visible. On an ILS approach the outer, middle and inner marked beacon lights will display at the tip of the airspeed box arrow as you pass over the top of each beacon. Angle of attack (AOA, G force (G), AGL terrain elevation (TE) and Engine throttle % is also shown. Flying the F22A Raptor A LOT on this aircraft is simply automatic, but that is not to say in using the manual options is not the best way to fly the machine. The auto settings are fun at first, but if you are like me and want control, then you will usually and very quickly return the settings to manual. There are a few annoyances, one is the APU that seems to have a life of it's own... you can have to have the engines switched on and the canopy even closed before you can turn it on, but it has a habit of switching itself off constantly and running down the batteries... try and restart it and it won't work? If you do get it running, then both the Generator switches have to be off to get the APU power to work? The APU start up sounds however are very good... but it is seriously annoying to use. Problem is you can't start the engines until it is running... so you fighting with the aircraft just to actually start it? There is a method here in the madness, but I won't go there. That done and the APU (finally) running and powering the systems then starting the F22A is a doddle, make sure the Fuel Switches are on and up the engine start switch... but you have to hold the switch until the N2 passes the 60% mark before the engine lights. And again the FMOD engine startup sounds are very good. A fun feature is the FCS or Flight Control System test, that when you activate the FCS switch (engines have to be running) the aircraft will go through a series of checks of all the flying surfaces... and yes it is fun to watch, but you have to turn the FCS switch off again to stop the procedure. The procedures are shown on the right MFD RP1. Second major annoyance is the R2C or "Roll to See" feature... it is a visual control of your view of where you point the controls, nothing new of course as every movement tool (plugin) has one like the XPRealistic "Head Movements"... but here it is just plain visually annoying on the ground or when trying to either taxi or takeoff the aircraft... the problem is not the movement or change of view, but the sudden jerky movements of the R2C, that was switched off very quickly. That is not to say a lot of the punters may love it, but I don't as I want to focus or adjust on the instrument panel. Once in the taxi, the F22A sets itself up for takeoff automatically (unless you turn it off). Flap is set at 100%, which to me seems like a lot of drag? AOA recommends taking the off the aircraft fully fueled, I do to as the operational radius is not very wide. Afterburner logic is set to "Off" as default, so if you want the system to protect the aircraft, then you have to switch it to "Auto". When you push up the throttles below the afterburner threshold and the F22A will now reset the flap 88%, but hold the aircraft on the brakes as the thrust builds up and the pitch vectoring engine nozzles adjust...... then let it go... Yipes! the Raptor simply leaps forward like a bullet coming fast out of a barrel, all at once the speed is already building, then you push the throttles to the full forward and the afterburner mode and you get another large hard push in the back... ... takeoff is only 120 knts + 10, but I am already at 140 knts plus before I can react and pull back the stick, but not to sharply. The F22A will slingshot itself into the air and immediately the gear will go up and the flaps will again readjust. But be careful here... it is a know fact that several F22s have come back to earth, belly gear up by not having enough speed to fly... so make sure the fighter is actually biting the air before rotating the aircraft and it automatically folding in the gear. The F22 is already at m.81 and climbing at 10,000 fpm (yes that is Feet Per Minute) and this is nothing as the Raptor can climb at an astounding 62,000km/min rate of climb or straight up... on full afterburner of course! You are already pulling 1.6g's but 9g's is known, so climbing even to 55,000ft takes only minutes. You can't keep up these theatrics going for very long as your fuel is being gulped down like an Saturn 5 first stage booster as the fuel flow is in overdrive, so it is soon time to level off and throttle back. Full Service ceiling is 65,000 ft (20,000 m) but the F22A feels like it could easily fly all the way up to the moon. Performance as you could expect is astounding; Maximum speed: Mach 2.25 (1,500 mph, 2,414 km/h) at altitude Mach 1.21, 800 knots (921 mph; 1,482 km/h) at sea level Mach 1.82 (1,220 mph, 1,963 km/h) supercruise at altitude Range: 1,600 nmi (1,800 mi, 3,000 km) or more with 2 external fuel tanks To be fair, Angle of Attack Simulations have got a lot of the performance and flying feel of their F22A totally correct, the F22A is a monster of a machine... So what does it sound like? Well brilliant actually, as there is a full pro FMOD sound package by SimAcoustics, with very nice and believable audible high lift wing rumble and pilot anti G strain sounds when pulling high G's, accurate doppler sounds, distance attenuation and flyby effects. And there is also an active Noise Canceling feature for pilot's helmet. ... and up here it is brilliant experience. At this speed m.1.20 if you want to turn then expect a long wide turn, the Raptor takes ages to do even a 90º heading change, but hey, look at that view... There is the need to program a four-way hat switch or 2 two-position toggle switches to cycle through the five available weapon (X-Plane) modes. The available modes are: Navigation (NAV) mode. This is basically the default "no weapons selected" start point shared by every model in the simulator. I just call it "NAV" mode to establish is as our starting point. Gun mode Target Track (TRG TRK) mode Missile (A2A) mode Bomb (A2G) mode It takes a fair while to work out how first select and then to rotate to the next weapon and fire it, the manual does explain, but it does not either? Weapon Bay doors open and the the Raptor is ready for the kill. Chaff and Flares are very good, but distribute forward of the aircraft and not behind? Coming down is a little bit more tricky than going up? For one you are restricted to a negative vertical speed of -5000 fpm in AP mode, so it can take a little time to do so, yes you can do a dive bomb return back to earth, but that is not a reasonable way to fly the aircraft. The Raptor will do it for you anyway, but I wanted to control the speed, first at 250 knts, then down to 160 knts for the approach. I found that the AP would not allow me to drop the speed under 200 knts? (The AOA T-7A did the same annoying thing). So I had to abort the auto ILS landing and go to manual to get the Raptor ready for a 160 knt approach. So using the speedbrakes manually is very effective, looks brilliant on display as well as the flying surfaces all fan out... the normal minimum fuel when arriving back at the airfield is 4,000 lbs. However if you have too much fuel on board the Raptor's fuel jettison system will automatically dump the fuel, then stops dumping fuel when it gets down to 4,000 lbs as the backup displays blue fuel quantity status bar turns yellow with just 4,000 lbs. remaining. The display turns red when the 2,000 landing minimum is finally reached. ... even when I had slowed to my approach speed and closed up the speedbrakes, the F22A now automatically set the aircraft up for landing with flap set at 20% and then at 60%. I now also personally took control of the landing gear as well... did I still not trust the aircraft? It is very, very easy to do a very high angle of attack on approach in this aircraft, still the official AOA angle is still 12 degrees, still very high and the nose can blot out the runway. So you have to use a bit of skill and even some guesswork to get it perfect. But still even after a few practise runs I was still at an 15º nose higher than I should be at the required 12º Note the position of the speedbrakes in the HUD So speed control is critical to get right on landing, my approach speed of 150 knts felt slightly too slow (160 knts to 165 knts should be better) and the touch down speed of 135 knts should be around 140 knts, say even a higher 145 knts to get it right. Once the wheels touched I have finally a 10º pitch and that feels better, there are no reverse thrusters for you to use, so to rub off the speed you use the aerodynamic aids and the brakes, but I found with a first touch of the brakes is that they were not effective, it took a few repeated pulls before they started to work and slowed down the aircraft... ... and by the time your are leaving the runway the Raptor is now already all automatically cleaned up! Lighting The Raptor's internal lighting is pretty basic, instrument lighting on, then the only other adjustment is for the cockpit overall lighting. The side panels are both always illuminated. A note that at full dome brightness I got this red glow around the canopy. Externally the lighting is very basic, with just navigation and strobe lights, but there is some very nice military ‘Slime Lights’ with the green formation markers. There are also twin landing lights on the front nosegear. Liveries There are five liveries in the package (on all aircraft variants); 199 FS Mytai Fighters, 525 FS Bulldogs, Pre-production and Raptor 01 and the FF 094 as default. And they are all pretty similar to each other. ________________ Summary Coming out of the USAF's Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) program. The winner was a 5th generation air superiority fighter, but it is also a ground attack, electronic warfare, and signal intelligence aircraft, and this aircraft is the Lockheed Martin F22A Raptor. There is no doubting the awesome capabilities of the F22A machine. It can climb, turn and out manouvover pretty well anything out there flying, plus it is also a stealth based machine with most armament stores held inside the fuselage. I particularly liked AOA (Angle of Attack) Simulation's earlier T-7A Red Hawk, The aircraft showed a nice forward step of development and here in the F22A Raptor I did expect another step forward of an even more formidable aircraft. There are three versions included in this F22 Raptor package, the A2A - Missile, A2G - Bomb(er) and the EFT - External Fuel Tank variants. As the Raptor is priced above the AOA T-7A (US$35), at US$40, it comes within the same price range as other aircraft including the JustFlight Bae T/1A Hawk (US$44.00) and the X-Trident Panavia Tornado (US$38.95), and both aircraft have considerable more quality and features... so the first question is then, does the AOA F22A Raptor compete at this level, and the honest answer is no. In areas close up the modeling is good, and even in areas very good, but not in this league, canopy glass is average, textures are jaggy Lo-Res, and curves are pointed... at a distance however the well done composite textures does look sensational, as these review images show, with a lovely semi-matt feel about the aircraft. The cockpit is very stark modern, but the six MFD (Multi Function Displays) and a centre UFC (Up Front Control panel), the layouts are all very good, but do not come with the high system depth you would expect on this 5th Gen fighter. There are some nice features; There are great sounds in every area with a FMOD sound package by SimAcoustics, The fun Flight Control System test with excellent unique flight control actions, plenty of built in armaments, great afterburner effects and the aircraft's auto mode for Flaps, Landing Gear, Speedbrakes and landing fuel dump system are interesting and in areas exciting to use. There are still a few early bugs and quirks. The APU has a mind of it's own, Some flying quirks are hard to see around (AP speed limited to 200 knts and so on, and see the above APU), and the aircraft can not be secured with static elements unless you have the power on and the canopy open? and the R2C or "Roll to See" feature is something you can love or hate (I am in the latter). Overall though the one major significant aspect is that this a real something of an aircraft to fly. The Raptor's incredible performance and it is well replicated here is simply phenomenal, and the major automatic aids are also very clever in that meaning simply anyone can fly the F22A like a Pro Pilot, and that means anyone can experience or access the machine. As noted I really loved AOA's T-7A Red Hawk, and looking back at the T-7A's release review I see an awful lot of similarities between the design and quirks of both aircraft, however the Raptor as good as it is, does not feel the next step up of which following the very nice T-7A... however the Raptor can or could easily be, and that is the overall question about the AOA F22A aircraft... taking that next step. _______________________________ Yes! the Lockheed Martin F22A Raptor by AOA Simulations is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : F-22A Raptor Price is US$40.00 Features: High quality 3D model 3 models: Air-to-Air, Air-to-Ground and EFT (External Fuel Tanks) Highly accurate 3D exterior model Every door and control surface animated All F-22 unique flight control actions accurately reproduced Every switch and control in the detailed 3D cockpit works Ground equipment 4K PBR textures Beautiful 4K liveries out of the box Smooth and VR-friendly cockpit control manipulators High quality sounds Professional FMOD sound package by SimAcoustics Audible high lift wing rumble and pilot anti G strain sounds when pulling G's Accurate doppler, distance attenuation and flyby effects Active Noise Canceling feature for pilot's helmet Flight model Extremely maneuverable Pitch vectoring engine nozzles Carefree handling to any AOA (Angle Of Attack) Super cruise to Mach 1.8+ without afterburner AOA Simulations “standard” features SASL plug in controls all cockpit displays and aircraft systems Ground, "virtual" and "AI" in-flight refueling capability without having to use drop down menus, load special situations or interrupt your current flight "Roll-to-see" dynamic pilot head camera plug-in "Target Track" plug-in locks pilot camera on AI planes for easy formation flying Functioning Auto GCAS (Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System) Approach Power Compensation autopilot auto-throttle mode All automatic aircraft systems can be disabled with cockpit switches Basic Helmet Mounted Target displays in addition to the F-22 Raptor HUD Other Audible engine start checklist Automated in-flight engine re-start checklist AviTab tablet compatibility 90+ pages flight manual Requirements X-Plane 11 4 GB VRAM Video Card Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 436 MB Current and Review version: v1.0 (April 10th 2021) ___________________________________ Installation and documents: download for the Raptor is 416Mb and the aircraft is deposited in the "Fighter/Military" X-Plane folder. Full Installation is 466Mb Documents supplied are: F-22A Custom Sliders.xls F-22A Convention Paper.pdf F-22A Flight Manual 1.0.pdf Manual is excellent at 94 pages, with excellent aircraft, instrument and setup details including HOTAS setup and IFF Codes. Custom Slider settings (Excel) and overview of the F-22 Flight Test Program. "AviTab" VR-compatible tablet is required, download is free, and installation is in to your X-Plane/Plugins Folder. Support forum for the F22-Raptor ___________________________________ Aircraft Review by Stephen Dutton 14th April 2021 Copyright©2021 : X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this preview are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All rights reserved Review System Specifications: Computer System: Windows - Intel Core i7 6700K CPU 4.00GHz / 64bit -32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 8Gb - Samsung Evo 1TB SSD Software: - Windows 10 - X-Plane 11.53 Plugins: Traffic Global - JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00 : Environment Engine by xEnviro US$69.90 Scenery or Aircraft - Seattle - Boeing Country 10.5 by Tom Curtis (Sorry not now available)
First Impression Review : T-7A Red Hawk by AOA Simulations The Boeing/Saab T-7 Red Hawk, which was originally known as the Boeing T-X, is an American/Swedish advanced jet trainer and F-7A light fighter that was selected on 27 September 2018 by the United States Air Force (USAF) as the winner of the T-X program to replace the Northrop T-38 Talon, and we all know the T-38 as it has been around for aeons. Angle of Attack (AOA) Simulations have developed for X-Plane (XP) the T-7A Red hawk, and a very nice looking aircraft it is, very interesting as well. The T-7A has that Hawk feel forward and with the wings, but with the rear of the more modern F-35 single large exhaust and twin-tailplane layout and it is by scale a far bigger aircraft than the T-38 Talon it replaces. Overall the aircraft is very well modeled, but you couldn't note it as high-quality or even Hi-Res compared to the JustFlight Hawk T1/A. Glass and the twin-seater canopy however is very good with nice shaping and reflections... The complex landing gear is also very well modeled, but a large amount of the detail is still in the 3D modeling mode that does without textures for that lifelike quality realism. The note that this aircraft as a prototype could be seen as very new and hence very clean, but you are still missing that realism factor in the detail? So it all comes across to me as very skillfully modeled, but not entirely realistic and this feeling is present right through the aircraft. The low Resolution textures are highly noticeable and in reality we have left these X-Plane9 looking aircraft behind a long time ago, a shame because the textures have a good PBR effect that would have given the aircraft very high quality of depth to the modeling if the textures had matched the definition. Yes the textures are mapped on to a 4K background (4096x4096) but the whole aircraft is mapped totally just onto only one texture sheet into then making everything very small and with no detail, were as the JF Hawk T1/A has a full 4K sheet for just the wings and tail alone! The external detailing of the single exhaust is again let down by the average textures, but the internal detail is very good. Ditto the tail detail in again Lo-Res textures and the plain modeled hinge detail that is not up to the grade of this price range. Menu Aircraft menu is situated in the X-Plane/Menu. The menu has four sections: Liveries, Enable/Disable (R2c - GCAS), Weapon Modes, and Options. Liveries: There are three liveries with the aircraft: US Air Force T-7A (Default), TX - Prototype and US Navy Arctic Camo. We will look at R2c and GCAS - Ground Collision Avoidance System later, but you can switch them on or off here in the menu. Weapon modes: In Weapon mode you can cycle though... Nav Mode (off), Target Track Mode, Gun Mode, Missile Mode and Bomb Mode. Options: There are four option selections all toggles in: 2D/3D cockpit, Mirrors, Ground Equipment and Nose Probe. Mirrors, there are three mirrors set out around the frame on the canopy, these can be disabled. Ground Equipment, (Static Elements), selecting ground equipment will give you flags, large side stairs and engine intake covers... ... but overall the elements feel half done? a few at the front but nothing at the rear or no wheel chocks and the pilots don't disappear either? Nose Probe, a test nose probe can be attached or not. Interior The cockpit detail is very good as you have to understand that there would not be a lot of information about the aircraft available, so AOA have made a good fist of it... .... modeling detail is very good, but again we have no textures, just the modeling except for the seat cushions and seatbelts, and again they get away with it because of the nature of the aircraft, but total realism it isn't as it just looks like a highly rendered model. There are not a lot of switches in here either, with just three to set up and power the aircraft. Right side panels give you Lights, Engines and Electrical, and the left side has Doors, IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) or Transponder. Left is the throttle and right is the joystick. Which brings us to our biggest issue as there is no manual? There is a Quick Look (sort of) manual, but there is no real detail in here of what is what and just the (very) basics are listed and another (PDF) on how to set up the Weapons (but not on how to actually use them?)... try that yourself and you will get all sorts of odd things... ... the only two you can set is the "Chaff" and "Flares". So there is no under wing stores, in belly stores or nose cannons. So working yourself around this technical cockpit is not easy, and so it can't be translated to you either in this review. There are two main instrument panels, the selection "Up-Front" Display and the lower wide "Panoramic cockpit" Display. Up-Front The "Up-Front" Display and selection is actually quite clever with HDG (Heading) left top row, and ALT (Altitude) right top row... with ILS, and GS (Glideslope) selections in the middle top row. Second row is SPD (Speed) left and VVI (Vertical Speed) right... with AP (AutoPilot) and SRVO (Servos) centre second row. Third row is mostly information to cover KNTS/MACH (Knots/Mach), TAS, SPD (Speed) Brake, BRG (Background), DST (Distance), ETA, TF and TF number. Fourth row is views, front or rear, 2D/3D, Nose Camera (XP), Tower (XP), Runway (XP), Aircraft (XP) and Circle (XP)... and GCAS (ON/OFF) Timers and Date are set out on the bottom of the panel. "Panoramic cockpit" Display The "Panoramic cockpit" is really three displays with the NAV/MAP central and two switchable screens left and right. NAV/MAP range is selected by pressing the ZOOM-IN and ZOOM-OUT selections, and the Pop-Out is the XP G1000 panel display. Left and Right screen options include: CKL (Aircraft Configuration) and MAP - ADI and RWS (Rose-Right Side) FCS (Flight Controls) and WEP (Weapons) - RWS (Rose- Left side) and CAM (External Camera) Top of the panel are three "Icon Bar" selection displays with left: Afterburner, Gear position, centre: Weather, Radio Frequencies and right: Range, XP Map, Weapon Selection and Chaff/Flares with a circle arrow reset. Aircraft Configuration shows you all your current aircraft data and very good it is, but the ADI selection is a requirement because it gives you an artificial horizon, speed and altitude tapes, bank indicator and a Rose with OBS1 and OBS 2 selections, there is also a backup artificial horizon, heading, speed and altitude tapes to the right of the Up-Front display. MAP has built in APT (Airport), WPT (Waypoint) and WRX (Weather) selections with DME1 and DME2 distances to the bottom of the screen, choice of GPS and MAP are also available. The Engine/Fuel display is positioned right, with both switchable numbers and percentage displays... ... flap position and tailplane position is also shown. DON"T press the "Pull To Arm" lever or the yellow "Eject" handle... as they really work! Note the adjustable AviTab iPad (AviTab Plugin is required). IFF - Transponder is very easy to use and looks nice in the process. NightLighting At night it looks very nice in the cockpit, but there is only a brightness adjustment? Only the HUD - (Head Up Display) can be dimmed or turned off. The HUD itself is very good and easily readable in different lighting conditions... Externally you only have Navigation and Strobe lighting, there are two landing lights on each of the rear landing gear struts so lighting can only be used when the gear is down, there are no IDENT ‘Slime Lights’ lighting on the aircraft. Flying the T-7A Red Hawk The Red Hawk is a trainer aircraft in a sequence of levels to acquire a full Jet Fighter certificate under the JPATS or Joint Primary Aircraft Training System. Entry level is Student on the T-6A Texan ll aircraft (propeller), that then moves to the T-1A Jayhawk in SUPT roles, then the T-38C Talon is used in the advanced pilot training role, but the T-5A category (APT T-X Program) is for the advance training to fourth and fifth generation aircraft (i.e. computer based) and multiple system based technology capability. The first thing you notice in the cockpit of the T-7A is on how very minimalistic everything is, I will note that a lot of this new technology capability is also built into the pilot's helmet that can not be replicated here in X-Plane (well not yet anyway). AOA do show you how to set up your joystick with XP commands that does certain actions, and the XP A.I. (AI Aircraft) is also similarly set up for hostility operations and refueling. The GpsFPLInput plugin by Gtagentman is also recommended to be installed as well. I found without a manual the "Up-Front" Display can be hard to decipher and even use, I also think the KNTS/MACH with the Speed selection is buggy as we shall see... The General Electric F404 after-burning turbofan is very powerful at 17,700 lbf (78.7 kN) and 11,000 lbf with the afterburner disengaged at takeoff and you really feel the kick down the runway, the nose will lift around 170knts... flap setting is at 30º but there isn't any lever action required as it is set automatically for you as the flap position is set to your speed. Climb-out and at 210 knts (non-afterburner) the gear will automatically retract... the flaps will retract to 15º then "Up" at either 250 TAS or 20º pitch Rate of Climb is phenomenal, I selected 4,000fpm and it took that climb rate easily all the way to 20,000ft, but there are currently no formal performance statistics except 600knts a ceiling of 55,000ft and a tested airframe to Mach 1.8. You feel like you are riding a bullet, the aircraft is fast... very fast. Heading changes under the AP are violent as you suddenly bank hard and it certainly does not feel very realistic, under manual control the aircraft however is very nice to fly, but precision in control changes are required at these speeds... or you could lose the aircraft very quickly, so think like Col Chuck Yeager as you fly tight and straight through the sound barrier. Note both AP and SRVO selections are required for auto-flight. Afterburner operation is also automatic (if switched on)... ... a little afterburner icon is illuminated (arrowed) when the burner is in operation, and the exhaust movement animation is well done.... it is a shame about the quality of the textures though. Watch your afterburning though as it uses a lot of fuel each time you power up, it is like a fuel dump in motion. Runway to 20,000ft is a doddle, suddenly you are up there and flying fast at m.90! Chaff and Flares are easy to activate, but again they are used up very quickly... they do look very good though. I never did work out the weapons system (no manual) and so you have to be very careful on using the R2c system? The R2c system is switched on via the left side switch... select your target mode and the system completely takes over your aircraft or your views? First lockout delivers only horizontal movement, second selection will follow the TRK, but also completely lock you out from flying the aircraft and mostly the target is in a viewpoint that is wrong like here through the rear seat? Bombing will give you a aim-sight in the HUD, but overall every mode locks you out from flying the aircraft? The selected mode wouldn't fire either? Overall I didn't like it at all as I lost control and visual communication of the aircraft and the only way to get control back is to "SAFE" the system and thankfully switch it all off. Time to power up and head home... and bejesus this thing can move... above m.1.06 though the afterburner would hunt to keep up the speed... ... at m.1 11 you got the constant afterburner hunting, set lower to m.1 05 and the aircraft settled down nicely. Biggest conflict I had was with the Mach/Speed (Knts) selection? You can adjust your speed right down in Mach numbers, but it won't allow you to switch to Knts? well it did at the correct speed of 302knts will but then correct directly down to 134 knts (and way to slow) and lock it solidly in there? Only by going back to the Mach mode was I able to control the speed? Using the Airbrakes, the aircraft would also override my commands (who is flying this aircraft?) and closed them again... as I needed my airbrakes to control my descent speed? There are a lot of little override commands like this, so you feel you are not actually in control of the aircraft? In the end you disconnect all the auto functions to regain control of the aircraft. Adjust your speed down to 250knts (m.0 34) and the aircraft will automatically set itself for landing, wheels will go down and the flaps will adjust accordingly as you reduce the speed down to a landing speed of 155 knts and full flap... .... but I had to finally take over with manual control as the aircraft kept switching to the default 134knts? and that is basically in being too slow with a nose high pitch? Again I manually selected the airbrakes and again I got over-ruled? so the aircraft has a mind of it's own? Under manual control the T-7A is a joy to fly with instant reply from the controls and perfect thrust power from the throttle, this is a very nice aircraft to fly and enjoy from a pilot's perspective. Approach speed is 145 knts and flare and touch down is around 135 knts? remember that number from before? Then you have to activate the Airbrakes manually? god this aircraft is confusing? However the T-7A is brilliant on approach and landing phases, I can't go wrong in making the perfect landing every time. Speed rubs off quite nicely but you will still need to use the brakes to slow the aircraft to a taxi speed, and don't forget to retract the airbrakes? One thing I will mention is that for a training aircraft the T-7A does a lot of the work for you? It is debatable if learning on this aircraft you would know if moving to a more front line role as a pilot, to control and raise and lower the gear and to actually set your flap position to the correct speeds? You can see a first flight on another aircraft of landing too fast and with the gear up because the trainee pilot would think the aircraft (like on the Red Hawk) would do all the actions for them? But from another perspective it makes the Red Hawk and almost impossibly easy aircraft to fly... but is that too easy? ___________________________________ Summary There are many times in reviewing that you get caught between two worlds. This Boeing/Saab T-7 Red Hawk from Angle of Attack (AOA) Simulations puts you in such a position. It is first notable that the real aircraft is still in it's own development stage, so areas of this X-Plane version may not or even be evident on the real aircraft, so AOA my have taken liberty on many areas in this context. That said they have still created a very credible and sensational flying aircraft to meet the T-X program requirements. There is so much to really like on this trainer. I love flying the aircraft and the performance is simply phenomenal and the sounds are pretty good as well, and in manual mode it is a very nice machine to use and control, It is a very nice aircraft to look at as well and systems are clever and well thought out... but. The modeling is actually very good, the problem is that you see too much of it around the aircraft, textures are so Low-Res (so small on the texture sheet) and the point is that we left this level of detail back in X-Plane9 and the textures in too many areas are not used to cover the said modeling. Although the systems are very good, they are also buggy, but oddly enough they actually may not be. But in this first impression of the aircraft then how would I or really anyone else know because there is no manual, and all that is provided is just a "Quick Look" basic pdf on the aircraft, personally with these sort of experimental aircraft and systems you need to understand how they do actually work? Just a set up guide is simply not good enough and I leave this first impression review slightly confused? Yes comparisons will be matched with the JustFlight Hawk, is that fair? It is certainly a benchmark but the JF Hawk is a full level and price point higher, but still if AOA had reached even halfway to the external quality and catered to the details even down to the finer points, then this would have been an exceptional aircraft as all the right ingredients are already right in here, it is still good and certainly if you are willing to work through the details and even with a couple of updates that will bring it fully up to the mark... personally the T-7A made a big impression on me and far more than I really actually expected, but it deserves more. _______________________________ The T-7A Red Hawk by AOA Simulations is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store: T-7A Red Hawk Priced at US$36.00 Main features T-7A advanced trainer and F-7A light fighter Highly detailed, fully animated 3D model and weapons PBR textures Advanced Features SASL 3.8 based plug-in system “Roll to See” dynamic pilot POV camera option (non-VR mode) points pilot camera based on pitch, roll and G forces "Target Track" points, locks and follows AI planes with pilot camera Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System Fly from forward or aft cockpits as student or instructor "Virtual" ground and In-Flight Refueling capability Track-IR and VR compatible AviTab tablet integration (Download AviTab plugin separately) Cockpit based on preliminary assessment of prototype T-X screen shots Head Up Display Up Front 32 points touch screen control and display panel Large format glass panel with embedded G1000 color moving map Multiple sub panel page options Dedicated engine data display Navigation Fully autopilot control thru Up Front Control panel Dual ADF GPS Nav1 & 2 VOR / ILS Low altitude, all weather Terrain Following Radar Air to air, with radar lock on AI targets Dedicated threat situational awareness cockpit display Terrain mapping radar Weapon system Master jettison switch Weapon display panel 4 x AIM-9X Infrared A2A missiles 8 x Small Diameter Bomb II's GPS aim point bombing mode Gun Pod Miscellaneous FMOD Sounds, aural warnings Particle systems effects Animated ejection sequence Ground support equipment Removable test probe (T-X prototype) Three liveries Additional liveries available free on X-Plane.org download manager Paint kit Download Quick Look PDF from our support page for a preview of the aircraft Requirements X-Plane 11 4Gb VRAM Video Card Minimum - 8GB+ VRAM Recommended Current and Review version: v1.0 (March 5th 2020) Installation and documents: Download for the T-7A Red Hawk is 313mb and the unzipped file is deposited in the aircraft "Fighters" X-Plane Aircraft folder at 412.00 mb. The GpsFPLInput plugin by Gtagentman is also recommended to be installed as well. Documentation: Documentation consist's of a Quick Look overview, Setting up the Weapons System, and the official CRS T-7A report... also provided is a Speed Chart (png), Weapon system switch setup (png), and xyz control sensitivity (png) 1. Quick look.pdf 2. Weapons System.pdf 2019 CRS report T-7A Red Hawk program.pdf ________________________________ First Quick Impression Review by Stephen Dutton 25th March 2020 Copyright©2020 : X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this preview are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) Review System Specifications: Computer System: Windows - Intel Core i7 6700K CPU 4.00GHz / 64bit - 32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 8Gb - Samsung Evo 1TB SSD Software: - Windows 10 - X-Plane 11.41 Addons: Saitek x56 Rhino Pro system Joystick and Throttle : Sound - Bose Soundlink Mini Plugins: Environment Engine by xEnviro US$69.90 v1.07 Scenery or Aircraft - KRSW - Southwest Florida International Airport by Aerosoft (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$24.95