The F-22A Raptor is a next-generation fighter/attack aircraft that features the latest stealth technology to reduce detection by radar. Using more advanced engines and avionics than the current F-15 Eagle, the F-22A is intended to maintain U.S. Air Force capabilities against more sophisticated enemy aircraft and air defenses in the 21st century.
The Raptor combines stealth, maneuverability and the ability to fly long distances at supersonic speeds — or “super cruise” — in performance of air superiority and air-to-ground missions. Furthermore, it requires less maintenance than older fighters. These capabilities represent an exponential leap in war fighting capabilities.
In 1981 the U.S. Air Force needed a new air superiority fighter that would take advantage of new technologies in fighter design including composite materials, lightweight alloys, advanced flight control systems, higher power propulsion systems and stealth technology. Lockheed Martin’s F-22 won the design competition in April 1991, and the rollout ceremony for the first F-22 Raptor occurred in April 1997.
The Raptor successfully completed its initial operational and test evaluation in 2004, and the program received approval for full rate production. In December 2005 operational aircraft were designated F-22As.
Production of the F-22A is a partnership between Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Pratt & Whitney. Boeing builds the Raptor’s wings and aft-fuselage; the engines come from Pratt & Whitney, and Lockheed Martin builds the forward fuselage and assembles the subsections in Marietta, Ga.
On May 12, 2005, the Raptor program achieved a historic milestone with the delivery of the first combat-capable Raptor to the 27th Fighter Squadron, 1st Fighter Wing, at Langley Air Force Base, Va. In January 2006 the 27th Fighter Squadron flew the first operational mission with the F-22 in support of Operation Noble Eagle (the official name given to the defense of U.S. borders).
A combination of sensor capability, integrated avionics, situational awareness, and weapons provides first-kill opportunity against threats. The F-22A possesses a sophisticated sensor suite allowing the pilot to track, identify, shoot and kill air-to-air threats before being detected. Significant advances in cockpit design and sensor fusion improve the pilot’s situational awareness. In the air-to-air configuration the Raptor carries six AIM-120 AMRAAMs and two AIM-9 Sidewinders.
The F-22A has a significant capability to attack surface targets. In the air-to-ground configuration the aircraft can carry two 1,000-pound GBU-32 Joint Direct Attack Munitions internally and will use on-board avionics for navigation and weapons delivery support. In the future air-to-ground capability will be enhanced with the addition of an upgraded radar and up to eight small diameter bombs. The Raptor will also carry two AIM-120s and two AIM-9s in the air-to-ground configuration.
Advances in low-observable technologies provide significantly improved survivability and lethality against air-to-air and surface-to-air threats. The F-22A brings stealth into the day, enabling it not only to protect itself but other assets.
The F-22A engines produce more thrust than any current fighter engine. The combination of sleek aerodynamic design and increased thrust allows the F-22A to cruise at supersonic airspeeds (greater than 1.5 Mach) without using afterburner — a characteristic known as super cruise. Super cruise greatly expands the F-22A ‘s operating envelope in both speed and range over current fighters, which must use fuel-consuming afterburner to operate at supersonic speeds.
The sophisticated F-22A aero design, advanced flight controls, thrust vectoring, and high thrust-to-weight ratio provide the capability to outmaneuver all current and projected aircraft. The F-22A design has been extensively tested and refined aerodynamically during the development process.
From the very beginning, the F-22A exceeded the USAF’s expectations, and during exercises and deployments, it proved to be more than a match for any fighter opposing it.
During the highly realistic Exercise Northern Edge 2006, the F-22 proved itself against as many as 40 “enemy aircraft” during simulated battles. The Raptor pilots achieved a 108-to-zero “kill” ratio against the best F-15, F-16 and F-18 “adversaries.” The stealthy F-22A also proved that it could avoid and destroy enemy surface to air missiles, and recorded an impressive 97 percent mission capability rate.
Specifically noting the Raptor’s performance at Northern Edge, the National Aeronautic Association (NAA) awarded its 2006 Robert J. Collier Trophy, considered America’s most prestigious award for aeronautical and space development, to the Lockheed Martin Corp.-led F-22 Raptor aircraft team “for designing, testing and operating” the Raptor. Team members included Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Pratt & Whitney, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and BAE Systems. This amazing aircraft was described as “the most efficient and effective fighter in history, through exceptional performance and outstanding safety features.”
The F-22A will have better reliability and maintainability than any fighter aircraft in history. Increased F-22A reliability and maintainability pays off in less manpower required to fix the aircraft and the ability to operate more efficiently.
Primary Function: Air dominance, multi-role fighter
Contractor: Lockheed-Martin, Boeing
Power Plant: Two Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 turbofan engines with afterburners and two-dimensional thrust vectoring nozzles.
Thrust: 35,000-pound class (each engine)
Wingspan: 44 feet, 6 inches (13.6 meters)
Length: 62 feet, 1 inch (18.9 meters)
Height: 16 feet, 8 inches (5.1 meters)
Weight: 43,340 pounds (19,700 kilograms)
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 83,500 pounds (38,000 kilograms)
Fuel Capacity: Internal: 18,000 pounds (8,200 kilograms); with 2 external wing fuel tanks: 26,000 pounds (11,900 kilograms)
Payload: Same as armament air-to-air or air-to-ground load outs; with or without 2 external wing fuel tanks.
Speed: Mach 2 class with super cruise capability
Range: More than 1,850 miles ferry range with 2 external wing fuel tanks (1,600 nautical miles)
Ceiling: Above 50,000 feet (15 kilometers)
Armament: One M61A2 20-millimeter cannon with 480 rounds, internal side weapon bays carriage of two AIM-9 infrared (heat seeking) air-to-air missiles and internal main weapon bays carriage of six AIM-120 radar-guided air-to-air missiles (air-to-air load out) or two 1,000-pound GBU-32 JDAMs and two AIM-120 radar-guided air-to-air missiles (air-to-ground load out)
Unit Cost: $142 million
Initial operating capability: December 2005
Inventory: Total force, 91