Hunting Hi/Low

Back when I was a kid, ranging from about ages five to seven, I was downright psyched about airplanes. I just loved airplanes and knew their names and specifications and so on, and my parents could feed me any books save for books about airplanes: From single engine propellers to military aircraft from back in WWII.
Like, I was crazy about the C-130 Hercules cargo plane and when President Reagan came to Brazil I think in ’84 or ’85 my parents actually had to take me to the airport not to see the guy, but to see the C-130s lying there on the tarmac like big olive elephants with wings.

As opposed to what you might think, though, I was never really in love with the F-14 Tomcat despite the aircraft being the main star in my favorite movie, which was (and still is) Top Gun. My favorite airplane was Lockheed’s SR-71A Blackbird: This fellow could go at over three times the speed of sound, and that design! I mean, children of the 1980s were sort of used to how cool those airplanes designed by Lockheed’s Skunkworks division looked, but the Blackbird was just sleek beyond all belief!
As a matter of fact, and this is huge trivia here, what really got me into X-Men comic books was the pure, simple, sheer fact that the X-Men used to fly a modified Blackbird. Imagine that? Wolverine and Cyclops flying a Blackbird?
Best thing ever for a six-year-old kid back in ’86…

After the Cold War ended and they mothballed the Blackbird I sort of stayed an orphan, aircraft-wise. I mean, I still love the Flying Fortresses from the 1940s, and the P-38 Lightning will always have a place in my heart. But they’re not the Blackbird, see?
And neither is the A-10 Thunderbolt II, with that big, mean minigun coming out of its nose… remember how the Cobras employed a customized VTOL-enabled A-10 back in the GI Joe cartoons? Still, no Blackbird.
Now the invisible aircraft that took over our imagination back in the 1990s were not nearly as cool either, so don’t bother. I mean the F-117 Nighthawk and stuff? Too angular. Too weird. No charm at all.

What I’m really trying to say, I think, is that I’ve fallen madly in love with the F-22 Raptor.
This high-quality baby is an air superiority fighter that’s been gradually replacing the F-15 Eagle since late ’05. It’s got the latest technology in avionics and well, everything. It flies at over Mach 2 with no need for afterburners, is more invisible to radar than the F-117, and looks absolutely gorgeous!
Starscream in the upcoming Transf*rmers movie changes into a F-22, by the way, so that you know. And Green Lantern’s alter ego Hal Jordan is an Air Force pilot who flies the F-22 in the comics, too.

The US Air Force employs this technique known as the Hi/Lo Mix when it comes to its aircraft. What they do is pretty much base their fighter aircraft on two basic models, a high-quality fighter (means, expensive) and a “low”-quality fighter (for mass production and usage).
Up until this point, the F-15 Eagle was the Air Force “high-end” fighter, a jet plane conceived for sheer air superiority, with the smaller F-16 Fighting Flacon (the one that looks like the F-15 but has got only one tail fin, you know?) being the low-end.
What you got now is, the F-22 gradually replacing the F-15, with the brand new F-35 Lightning II set to replace the F-16 in about five years.
The F-35 made a cameo in the recent Superman Returns movie: Two F-35 follow the space shuttle up close before the accident. They’re really similar to the F-22, by the way, only smaller and a bit chubbier-looking. It’s a joint strike fighter program being developed together between the USA and the United Kingdom, and as opposed to the F-22, this fighter will be marketed internationally.

There’s just one thing that simply isn’t cool at all:
You can’t go on dreaming of ever seeing a sequel to Top Gun featuring the F-22 insteaqd of the F-14, though, because the F-22 is basically an Air Force plane whereas the F-14 is the US Navy’s high-end fighter. It’s since been replaced by the F/A-18E Superhornet, which sadly doesn’t look nearly as cool ad the F-22. But the Navy will use the F-35, anyway, as its low-end fighter, which will replace the F-18 Hornet.
And Top Gun is a Navy school…

I can’t wait… and I kid you not… I can’t wait for the first wave of Transf*mer movie toys to come in, man, if they ever do. I got my blood boiling for an F-22 that changes into a big robot, and…

This is the airplane fanboy in me kicking in, you know? Ranting on and on and on about how cool the F-22 looks, without coming up with a good piece about it…