My understanding is that the BVR window closes fast, and more often than not in BVR training they quickly find themselves in WVR. Of course stealth tactics probably are to avoid that, but there's instances imagineable where the BVR window isn't there at all, normal QRA scenarios for example. But on the SDB integration... isn't deploying F-22s in that role kind of a last resort too?
Yes, on the firing of the -X, I just can't remember if it was just a launch test though, which says nothing about software integration. I think they are interchangable anyway, which is why we've seen countries ordering it before upgrades were done, right? (Switzerland for example). It's just that probably the F-22's software isn't ready for it, so you'd probably be firing it with a AIM-9M like firing solution and range to target, and you can't use lockon after launch yet. If it's carried internally, wouldn't you need to have the lockon before launch through the aircraft's fire control system instead of the seeker? So the improved seeker can't be used until launch and after having a firing solution? I don't know how it exactly works, I guess it also works with the bay open as this launch rail extends outwards giving the seekerhead a picture, although somewhat restricted? That'd be enough for test firings, testing the launch and aircraft clearance. Anyway if used as a Mike, you'd still have the better speed, agility and IRCCM capabilities of the missile improving hit probability, just not the extended off-boresight, lockon after launch and near beyond visual range acquisition capabilities of the thing.
So guess it's not a big deal and they could use the -9X if desired.
It's just that now, they are obviously not equipping it / and I guess that means they are training within the M's capabilities. Which might explain some of the outcomes of WVR training with fourth generation jets we've heard about.
Last resort or not, how's it a big enough deal to have it postponed to FY17? Looks like it's just about funding and software dev. cycle like always and that's just sad as we're discussing the world's best fighter here which has been deployed for quite some years now. Just my two cents.