The F/A-22 is destined to replace the F-15 and become the next-generation fighter of the USAF. Together with the competing F-23 it is one of the first fighter designs optimised for stealth. In addition, it was designed to "supercruise", i.e. fly at supersonic speeds without afterburner. The F/A-22 has a relatively conventional appearance, with twin tails and flat fuselage sides. The engines have two-dimensional thrust vectoring nozzles. To conserve a low radar cross-section, the armament is carried in internal weapons bays. First operational F-22 made it's debut in December 2005. 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.
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.
|Constructor||Lockheed Martin / Boeing|
|Unit Cost||360 million USD|
|Wing span||13.56 m|
|Length overall||18.92 m|
|Height overall||5.08 m|
|Wing area||78 m2|
|Powerplant||2× Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 augmented turbofans|
|Intermediate power||116 kN|
|Augmented power||155 kN|
|Operational empty||14,375 kg|
|Internal fuel||11,400 kg|
|Clean take-off||27,200 kg|
|Max take-off||36,288 kg|
|Wing loading||470 kg/m²|
|Maximum speed||Mach 1.9 (some sources claim Mach 2.4)|
|Supercruise speed||Mach 1.6|
|Combat Radius||1400 km|
|Ferry Range||3200 km|
|Thrust/weight||1.3 ~ 1.4|
|Maximum g-load||9.5 g|
|Guns||1× M61A2 Vulcan 20 mm Gatling gun with 480 rounds|
|Air to air||6× AIM-120 AMRAAM, 2× AIM-9 Sidewinder|
|Air to ground||2× 1,000 lb JDAM or |
2× Wind Corrected Munitions Dispensers (WCMDs) or
8× 250 lb GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs
|Remarks||It is estimated that internal bays can carry about 2,000 lb (907 kg) worth of bombs, and/or missiles. Four external hardpoints can be fitted to carry weapons or fuel tanks, each with a capacity of about 5,000 lb (2267 kg), albeit at the expense of stealth.|
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.