The Lockheed F-22 Raptor, to be in service the United States Air Force, is undoubtedly the most advanced of all the fighter aircraft in development today. This aircraft is a true air dominance fighter and uses highly advanced technology to insure air superiority. The F-22 will provide first look/first shot/first kill ability in all environments. The F-22's sophisticated sensor suite, cockpit design, and avionics that improve the pilot's situational awareness all make up the supercomputing power of the F-22. The F-22's engines allow the aircraft to "supercruise" to a high threat environment, thus greatly increasing the F-22's speed and range over other fighters. The F-22 will make use of its high thrust to weight ratio and thrust vectoring engines to outmaneuver all current and projected fighters. The F-22 uses the most advanced stealth technologies involving a very stealthy airframe, internal carriage of weapons, RAM, reduced IR signature, and much more to extremely diminish the enemy's ability to see the aircraft on radar or lock onto the aircraft with IR guided missiles. The F-22 also possesses a secondary air to surface role. In addition to the two 2000 lb. GPS guided Joint Direct Attack Munitions carried internally, the F-22 can be modified with under wing pylons to carry air to ground munitions once air superiority has been established. The F-22 will enter service in 2005.
First look/first kill in all environments- A combination of improved sensor capability , improved situational awareness, and improved weapons provides first-kill opportunity against the threat. The F-22 possesses a sophisticated sensor suite that allow the pilot to track, identify, and shoot the threat before it detects the F-22. Significant effort is being placed on cockpit design and avionics fusion to improve the pilot's situational awareness. Advanced avionic technologies allow the F-22 sensors to gather, integrate, and display essential information in the most useful format to the pilot.
Reduced observables- Advances in low-observable technologies provide significantly improve survivability and lethality against air-to-air and surface-to-air threats. The F-22's combination of reduced observability and supercruise accentuate the advantage of surprise in a tactical environment.
Supersonic persistence- The F-22 engines produce more thrust than any current fighter engine, especially in the military (non-afterburner) power. This characteristic allows the F-22 to efficiently cruise at supersonic airspeeds without using afterburner (supercruise). This capability greatly expands the F-22's operating envelope in both speed and range over current fighters which must use afterburner to operate at supersonic speeds.
Increased maneuverability- The F-22 has been extensively designed, tested, and refined aerodynamically during the Demonstration/Validation (DEM/VAL) process and coupled with high-maneuver capability. The sophisticated F-22 aerodesign and high thrust-to-weight provides the capability to outmaneuver all current and projected threat aircraft.
Improved combat radius on internal fuel- To ensure the F-22 provides air superiority for deep-interdiction aircraft, it operates at medium and high altitude at ranges superior to current generation air-superiority aircraft.
Improved reliability and maintainability- To ensure operational flexibility, the F-22 has better reliability and maintainability than any military fighter in history. Increased F-22 reliability and maintainability pays off in less manpower required to fix the aircraft and consequently less aircraft required to support a deployed squadron. Additionally, reduced maintenance support provides the benefit of reduced life cycle cost and the ability to operate more efficiently from prepared of dispersed operating locations. The F-22 exceeds current fighter sortie surge rates with a reduced support structure.
Increased lethality and survivability- The above characteristics provide a synergistic effect that ensures F-22 lethality against an advanced air threat. The combination of reduced observability and supercruise drastically shrinks surface-to-air engagement envelopes and minimizes threat capabilities to engage and shoot the F-22.
Air-to-surface capability- The F-22 has a secondary role to attack surface targets. The aircraft will be capable of carrying 2 x 1,000 pound Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs) internally and will use on-board avionics for navigation and weapons delivery support.
Destined to become the next generation fighter of the USAF. The F-22 is a stealthy air-superiority fighter. Another requirement is the ability to cruise at supersonic speeds without afterburner. The F-22 has a rather conventional appearance, with twin tails and flat fuselage sides; the armament is carried in internal weapons bays. The engines have two-dimensional nozzles. Plans for a naval version, intended to replace the F-14, with extensive changes to make the aircraft suitable for carrier use, have been shelved. Service entry is expected in 2005, and the first F-22A production aircraft flew on 7 September 1997.
The ATF (Advanced Technology Fighter) programme began in September 1983, when design contracts were awarded to seven companies; in October 1986, development contracts were awarded to two consortia, one consisting of Lockheed (prime contractor), Boeing, and General Dynamics, the other of Northrop (prime contractor) and McDonnell Douglas. The first Northrop/MD YF-23A (unofficially "Black Widow II") flew on 27 August 1990, followed by the first Lockheed/Boeing/GD YF-22A (unofficially "Lightning II") on 29 September 1990. In April 1991, the YF-22A was selected for development and eventual service.
Recent budget cuts have slowed down the schedule slightly; the first flight of the production Lockheed/Boeing F-22A (General Dynamics sold its fighter division to Lockheed in December 1992), originally scheduled for June 1996, will now be in September 1997. Service entry is expected to begin in 2005; the USAF is currently fighting an attempt by the General Accounting Office to delay this to 2010. Total production, originally planned to be 648 aircraft, has now been reduced to 339.
Reports differed as to whether the aircraft had an official name yet; for a while the Pentagon was considering "Superstar", and some magazine reports have claimed that the name "Rapier" has been assigned. However, Chris Ridlon of USAF ROTC/Academy reports that all the USAF people he knows (including F-22 acquisition officers) are using Lockheed's name of "Lightning II", so that may be officially approved after all. We now know it's Raptor...
Vital statistics (YF-22A): length 18.90 m, span 13.56 m, empty weight 15422 kg, max weight 28123 kg, max speed 2655 km/h (Mach 2.5), ferry range 3704 km; power plant: two 155.68 kN Pratt & Whitney F119-100 augmented turbofans; armament: 20mm cannon, internal bays for two AIM-9 and four AIM-120A or six AIM-120C air-to-air missiles, or two AIM-9, two AIM-120, and two air-to-surface missiles, external hardpoints for four more AIM-120s or other ordnance; radar: Westinghouse/Texas Instruments APG-77.
Type: F-22 A/C Raptor
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