The Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor (Also known as Rapier and Super Star) is a stealth fighter aircraft designed to replace the F-15C Eagle. It was designed primarily for combat missions involving air superiority but has secondary capabilities ranging from ground attack and close air support, to electronic warfare and reconnaissance. Its supreme agility and efficient payload have earned it a generally positive reputation. However, its economic footprint has made it a subject of controversy.
The F-22 was first flown as the YF-22 Lightining II in September 29, 1990 as part of the ATF program along with the YF-23 Black Widow II. After a hard-fought fly off, the F-22 was declared the winner on August 1991.
The Main production version of the F-22 Raptor made its first flight on September 7, 1997. This version eventually entered service in December 2005.
The Raptor’s primary role is Air Superiority, meaning its main goal in combat is to effectively take down all enemy aircraft in a defined airspace and establish dominance. For its secondary ground-attack capability, the Raptor had been known as the F/A-22 until 2005, when its designation as F-22 was settled.
A valuable asset to the F-22’s combat efficiency is its advanced AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar.
Added with its stealth, the F-22 possesses an exceptional performance as an aircraft. Its thrust-vectoring nozzles enhance its maneuverability to a spectacular level and the aircraft can supercruise at speeds of over Mach 1.5. Its true top speed remains classified. F-22 Raptor chief test pilot Paul Metz stated that the Raptor has a top speed greater than 1,600 mph (Mach 2.42) if not faster and its climb rate is faster than the F-15 Eagle due to advances in engine technology.
With its performance and technology, the F-22 Raptor is more than a match for any other fighter aircraft, including the exclusive technology demonstrator Su-37 Terminator.
Interestingly, a scenario depicted by RAND described a situation where a Raptor could be splashed by a group of Su-35 when the Sukhoi’s downed the Raptor’s tanker support. This study was later proved to be highly inaccurate, due to the Raptor’s clear performance advantage, and the Raptor solidified itself as one of the deadliest air dominance fighters in the world today. However, its closest match, the Russian Su-50, though is not as stealthy as the Raptor and its radar is less powerful, however it is more economically efficient and requires significantly less maintenance. The F-22 is an expensive super fighter and the number one in air to air role.
The United States Air Force is the sole operator of F-22 Raptors for the ban United States Congress has placed on the aircraft.
F-22 Raptor Basic Features:
- Crew: 1
- Length: 62 ft 1 in (18.90 m)
- Wingspan: 44 ft 6 in (13.56 m)
- Height: 16 ft 8 in (5.08 m)
- Wing area: 840 ft² (78.04 m²)
- Airfoil: NACA 64A?05.92 root, NACA 64A?04.29 tip
- Empty weight:14514 kg
- Loaded weight: 24947 kg
- Max takeoff weight:38,000 kg
- Powerplant: 2× Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 Pitch Thrust vectoring turbofans
- Dry thrust: 23,500 lb[ (116 kN) each
- Thrust with afterburner: Classified estimated 35,000+ lb (156+ kN) each
- Fuel capacity: 18,000 lb (8,200 kg) internally,or 26,000 lb (11,900 kg) with two external fuel tanks
- Maximum speed:1,498 mph (2,410 km/h)
- At altitude: Classified, Greater than Mach 2.42 (1600-1660 mph (1500 mph published but this is understated) )
- Supercruise: Mach 1.82 (1,220 mph, 1,963 km/h)
- Range: 1,600 nmi (1,840 mi, 2,960 km) with 2 external fuel tanks
- Combat radius: 410 nmi (471 mi, 759 km)
- Ferry range: 2,000 mi (1,738 nmi, 3,219 km)
- Service ceiling: 65,000 ft (19,812 m)
- Wing loading: 77 lb/ft² (375 kg/m²)
- Thrust/weight: 1.08 (1.26 with loaded weight & 50% fuel)
- Maximum design g-load: -3.0/+9.0 g
- Guns: 1× 20 mm (0.787 in) M61A2 Vulcan gatling gun in starboard wing root, 480 rounds
- Air to air loadout:
- 6× AIM-120 AMRAAM
- 2× AIM-9 Sidewinder
- Air to ground loadout:
- 2× AIM-120 AMRAAM and
- 2× AIM-9 Sidewinder for self-protection, and one of the following:
- 2× 1,000 lb (450 kg) JDAM or
- 8× 250 lb (110 kg) GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs
- Hardpoints: 4× under-wing pylon stations can be fitted to carry 600 US gallon drop tanks or weapons, each with a capacity of 5,000 lb (2,268 kg).