Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor

The Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor is a fifth-generation, single-seat, twin-engine, all-weather stealth tactical fighter aircraft developed for the United States Air Force (USAF). The result of the USAF's Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) program, the aircraft was designed primarily as an air superiority fighter, but also has ground attack, electronic warfare, and signal intelligence capabilities. The prime contractor, Lockheed Martin, built most of the F-22's airframe and weapons systems and conducted final assembly, while Boeing provided the wings, aft fuselage, avionics integration, and training systems.

F-22 Raptor Fighter JetThe aircraft was variously designated F-22 and F/A-22 before it formally entered service in December 2005 as the F-22A. Despite its protracted development and various operational issues, USAF officials consider the F-22 a critical component of the service's tactical air power. Its combination of stealth, aerodynamic performance, and situational awareness enable unprecedented air combat capabilities.

Service officials had originally planned to buy a total of 750 ATFs. In 2009, the program was cut to 187 operational production aircraft due to high costs, a lack of clear air-to-air missions due to delays in Russian and Chinese fighter programs, a ban on exports, and development of the more versatile F-35. The last F-22 was delivered in 2012.

The F-22 Raptor is a fifth-generation fighter that is considered fourth generation in stealth aircraft technology by the USAF. It is the first operational aircraft to combine supercruise, supermaneuverability, stealth, and sensor fusion in a single weapons platform. The F-22 has four empennage surfaces, retractable tricycle landing gear, and clipped delta wings with reverse trailing edge sweep and leading edge extensions running to the upper outboard corner of the inlets. Flight control surfaces include leading-edge flaps, flaperons, ailerons, rudders on the canted vertical stabilizers, and all-moving horizontal tails (stabilators); for speed brake function, the ailerons deflect up, flaperons down, and rudders outwards to increase drag.

F-22 Raptor Fighter JetThe aircraft's dual Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 augmented turbofan engines are closely spaced and incorporate pitch-axis thrust vectoring nozzles with a range of ±20 degrees; each engine has maximum thrust in the 35,000 lbf (156 kN) class. The F-22's thrust-to-weight ratio at typical combat weight is nearly at unity in maximum military power and 1.25 in full afterburner. Maximum speed without external stores is approximately Mach 1.8 at military power and greater than Mach 2 with afterburners.

The F-22's high cruise speed and operating altitude over prior fighters improve the effectiveness of its sensors and weapon systems, and increase survivability against ground defenses such as surface-to-air missiles. The aircraft is among only a few that can supercruise, or sustain supersonic flight without using fuel-inefficient afterburners; it can intercept targets which subsonic aircraft would lack the speed to pursue and an afterburner-dependent aircraft would lack the fuel to reach. The F-22's thrust and aerodynamics enable regular combat speeds of Mach 1.5 at 50,000 feet (15,000 m). The use of internal weapons bays permits the aircraft to maintain comparatively higher performance over most other combat-configured fighters due to a lack of aerodynamic drag from external stores. The aircraft's structure contains a significant amount of high-strength materials to withstand stress and heat of sustained supersonic flight. Respectively, titanium alloys and composites comprise 39% and 24% of the structural weight.

The F-22's aerodynamics, relaxed stability, and powerful thrust-vectoring engines give it excellent maneuverability and energy potential across its flight envelope. The airplane has excellent high alpha (angle of attack) characteristics, capable of flying at trimmed alpha of over 60° while maintaining roll control and performing maneuvers such as the Herbst maneuver (J-turn) and Pugachev's Cobra. Computerized flight control system and full-authority digital engine control (FADEC) make the aircraft highly departure resistant and controllable, thus giving the pilot carefree handling. More details