Tag Archives: f-22

Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor

7 Sep

The F-22 is an American built, single-seat, twin engine, 5th generation stealth air superiority fighter, and is widely hailed as the most advanced fighter ever created. While originally built for the purpose of dogfighting, the Raptor is also capable of attacking ground targets designated by friendly forces,electronic warfare and signals intelligence. Lockheed Martin Aeronautics is responsible for most of the construction of the aircraft but has teamed up with Boeing Defense, Space and Security who makes the wings, aft fuselage, avionics and training systems. In 1981, the US Air Force began seeking out a future replacement for the F-15 and F-16 in response to new high performance Soviet fighter jets like the Su-27 Flanker and MiG-29 Fulcrum. The Defense Department sent out a request for proposals. Many companies participated in the design competition but ultimately it came down to Lockheed/Boeing/General Dynamics who came out with their YF-22 against Northrup/McDonnell Douglas and their YF-23 after a 50 month demonstration phase. The Secretary of the Air Force selected the YF-22 as the winner, favoring its greater agility over the YF-23’s greater speed and stealth. The F-22 as it’s known today had its first flight in 1997 and officially entered service on December 15, 2005.

The Raptor was two internal weapons bays, one on the bottom and two on each side. It has room for one short range missile in each side bay as well as six medium range missiles in the center. Up to four medium range missiles can be swapped out for two medium sized bombs or four small diameter bombs. It is also capable of carrying some air-to-surface munitions although it is unable to designate targets on its own. It has also been fitted with an M61A2 Vulcan cannon on the right wing with enough ammunition for five seconds of continuous fire. Amazingly, the F-22 has been able to close within Vulcan range during training dogfights without being detected. Also, each wing has two hardpoints able to carry extra fuel tanks or missiles when stealth is not a priority.

The F-22 is constructed using state of the art, heat and stress resistant polymers and metals. However, some of these materials are highly toxic and personnel involved in their handling must wear special protective gear. The aircraft is fitted with an advanced high performance engine of which the  maximum thrust is classified but is estimated at 35,000 lbf. An internal weapons bay is a key design feature which makes stealth and supercruise possible, giving the aircraft a top speed of approximately 1,500 mph. The thrust vectoring nozzles allow the Raptor to come in at extremely high angles of attack which has contributed greatly to kill ratios in war games and is a key strategy of the F-22. The aircraft possesses very little ground attack potential on its own since it has no forward looking infrared, laser designator, laser spot tracker, and no external pods to attach them.

Equipped with the most advanced and top-secret fighter software, radar, and situational awareness programs on the market  and with its stealth, the F-22 is able to operate much closer to the battlefield despite poor air-to-ground performance. Due to it’s unique electronic warfare abilities it’s also able to function as a mini-AWACS or airborne early warning and control platform. The Raptor fleet has already received the first round of upgrades in software since entering service and is on schedule to get the latest updates as they become available. The cockpits are all glass and designed to be used in conjunction with night vision goggles due to the lack of optical or infrared vision devices. In addition, the ICAW (Integrated Caution, Advisory and Warning System) allows the pilot to be a tactician instead of a babysitter.

The F-22’s stealth is due to the overall shape of the aircraft, the use of RAM (radar absorbent materials), and even things as minuscule as specially designed hinges and pilot helmets with minimal radar return. Previous generations of stealth aircraft were high maintenance, often requiring 100+ hours of maintenance per flying hour. The F-1117 Nighthawk required constant maintenance to its radar reflective coating and the B2 Spirit requires a climate controlled hangar which makes combat deployments overseas incredibly difficult. The F-22 however can undergo repairs like any other fighter and has a “Signature Assessment System” which notifies the pilot when wear and tear begins to degrade the aircraft’s performance or stealth capabilities.

Due to the lack of an enemy with an advanced air force, the Raptor has not been tested in actual combat but has participated in numerous training exercises and war games where it consistently outclassed other new fighters, most notably the Eurofighter Typhoon, during most engagements. In November 2007, Raptors were scrambled to intercept Russian bombers over Alaska. An F-22 was the first fighter ever to be aerially refueled with an all synthetic compound.

Because of the incredibly high cost per aircraft and delays in the 6th generation fighter programs of potential adversaries, the ban on exports, and the development of the supposedly cheaper Joint Strike Fighter program, there have been many calls to cease production of the F-22. As of now, the procurement cap for the aircraft stands at 187 aircraft, down from the desired 650.

Number Built: 175 (As of 2011)

Unit Cost: $150,000,000

General characteristics

  • 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: 43,430 lb (19,700 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 64,460 lb (29,300 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 83,500 lb (38,000 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 Pitch Thrust vectoring turbofans
    • Dry thrust: 23,500 lb  (104 kN) each
    • Thrust with afterburner: 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

Performance

  • Maximum speed: **At altitude: Mach 2.25 (1,500 mph, 2,410 km/h)
    • 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
Advertisements