The F-22 Raptor is a fifth-generation fighter jet that is considered to be the best fighter jet in the world. It is the first operational aircraft to combine supercruise, supermaneuverability, stealth, and sensor fusion in a single weapons platform. This makes it capable of conducting missions in highly contested environments, with a high probability of success.
F-22 Raptor models and variants
The F-22 Raptor is a fifth-generation, single-seat, twin-engine, all-weather stealth tactical fighter aircraft developed by Lockheed Martin and Boeing for the United States Air Force (USAF). The F-22 Raptor is the first operational aircraft to combine supercruise, supermaneuverability, stealth, and sensor fusion in a single platform.
The F-22 Raptor has three main models: the F-22A, the F-22B, and the F-22C. The F-22A is the initial production variant and the only one currently in service. The F-22A has a maximum takeoff weight of 83,500 lb (37,900 kg) and a maximum speed of Mach 2.25 (1,500 mph, 2,410 km/h) at altitude. The F-22A can carry up to six AIM-120 AMRAAMs and two AIM-9 Sidewinders internally, as well as two 1,000 lb (450 kg) JDAMs or eight 250 lb (110 kg) SDBs externally. The F-22A also has a 20 mm M61A2 Vulcan cannon with 480 rounds of ammunition.
The F-22B is a planned two-seat variant of the F-22A that was canceled in 1996 due to budget cuts and technical challenges. The F-22B would have had a slightly longer fuselage and a larger vertical stabilizer to accommodate the second cockpit and ejection seat. The F-22B would have also had a reduced internal fuel capacity and weapon load compared to the F-22A.
The F-22C is a proposed upgrade of the F-22A that would incorporate new technologies and capabilities to enhance the aircraft’s performance and survivability. The F-22C would have features such as improved radar and electronic warfare systems, increased stealth coating, enhanced thrust vectoring, and additional weapon options. The F-22C would also have the ability to carry up to six air-to-air missiles in each of its main weapon bays, doubling its internal missile capacity. However, the F-22C program has not been funded or approved by the USAF or Congress as of 2023.
F-22 Raptor cost
The F-22 Raptor is one of the most expensive fighter jets in the world, both in terms of acquisition and operation. The F-22 Raptor has a unit cost of about $150 million, which includes research and development, procurement, and military construction costs. The total program cost of the F-22 Raptor is estimated to be around $67 billion, which covers 195 production aircraft and 8 test aircraft.
The F-22 Raptor also has a high operating cost, which includes fuel, maintenance, personnel, and support costs. The F-22 Raptor has an operating cost of about $58,000 per flight hour, which is more than twice the operating cost of the F-15 Eagle. The F-22 Raptor also requires more maintenance hours per flight hour than other fighter jets, due to its complex systems and stealth coating. The F-22 Raptor has a maintenance ratio of 42.5 hours per flight hour, compared to 18.9 hours per flight hour for the F-15 Eagle.
The F-22 Raptor is the best fighter jet in the world despite its high cost, because it provides unmatched capabilities and advantages that outweigh its expenses. The F-22 Raptor is a strategic asset that can deter potential adversaries and ensure air dominance in any conflict. The F-22 Raptor is also a force multiplier that can enhance the effectiveness and survivability of other friendly aircraft and assets. The F-22 Raptor is worth every penny because it is the ultimate weapon for air superiority and national security.
F-22 Raptor deployments and missions
The F-22 Raptor is a versatile fighter jet that can perform various missions and roles, such as air superiority, air interdiction, ground attack, electronic warfare, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR). The F-22 Raptor can also operate in both conventional and nuclear scenarios, as well as in contested and denied environments.
The F-22 Raptor has been deployed and participated in several operations and exercises around the world, such as:
- Operation Noble Eagle: The F-22 Raptor has been providing homeland defense and air sovereignty for the United States since 2007. The F-22 Raptor has intercepted and escorted several aircraft that violated the restricted airspace over Washington D.C. and other sensitive areas.
- Operation Inherent Resolve: The F-22 Raptor has been conducting airstrikes and ISR missions against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) since 2014. The F-22 Raptor has also provided close air support and air cover for friendly forces on the ground.
- Operation Pacific Iron: The F-22 Raptor has been demonstrating its rapid deployment and agile combat employment capabilities in the Indo-Pacific region since 2021. The F-22 Raptor has also participated in joint exercises and training with allied and partner nations, such as Japan, Australia, and India.
F-22 Raptor weapons
The F-22 Raptor is a lethal fighter jet that can carry a variety of weapons for air-to-air and air-to-ground combat. The F-22 Raptor has four internal weapon bays and four external hardpoints that can accommodate up to 18,000 lb (8,200 kg) of ordnance. The F-22 Raptor can also use its stealth, speed, and maneuverability to launch its weapons from beyond visual range and evade enemy detection and countermeasures.
The F-22 Raptor can carry the following weapons:
- AIM-120 AMRAAM: The AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) is a radar-guided missile that can engage multiple targets at ranges of up to 100 miles (160 km). The F-22 Raptor can carry up to six AIM-120 AMRAAMs internally and two more externally.
- AIM-9 Sidewinder: The AIM-9 Sidewinder is an infrared-guided missile that can engage targets at close range and high off-boresight angles. The F-22 Raptor can carry up to two AIM-9 Sidewinders internally and two more externally.
- JDAM: The Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) is a precision-guided bomb that can hit stationary or moving targets with high accuracy. The F-22 Raptor can carry up to two 1,000 lb (450 kg) JDAMs externally.
- SDB: The Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) is a precision-guided bomb that can hit targets with minimal collateral damage. The F-22 Raptor can carry up to eight 250 lb (110 kg) SDBs externally.
- M61A2 Vulcan: The M61A2 Vulcan is a 20 mm rotary cannon that can fire up to 6,000 rounds per minute. The F-22 Raptor has a single M61A2 Vulcan with 480 rounds of ammunition internally.
F-22 Raptor radar and avionics
The F-22 Raptor is a smart fighter jet that has advanced radar and avionics systems that give it superior situational awareness and combat effectiveness. The F-22 Raptor has the following radar and avionics systems:
- AN/APG-77: The AN/APG-77 is an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar that can track multiple targets and perform air-to-air and air-to-ground modes simultaneously. The AN/APG-77 can also jam enemy radars and communications, as well as provide high-resolution synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery. The AN/APG-77 has a range of over 200 miles (320 km) and can scan a 120-degree field of view in less than a second.
- AN/ALR-94: The AN/ALR-94 is a passive radar warning receiver (RWR) that can detect and identify enemy radars and missiles. The AN/ALR-94 has over 30 antennas distributed around the aircraft that can provide 360-degree coverage. The AN/ALR-94 can also classify and prioritize threats, as well as provide countermeasure suggestions to the pilot.
- AN/AAR-56: The AN/AAR-56 is an infrared search and track (IRST) system that can detect and track heat sources, such as aircraft, missiles, and ground vehicles. The AN/AAR-56 has six sensors mounted on the aircraft that can provide hemispherical coverage. The AN/AAR-56 can also operate in conjunction with the AN/APG-77 to enhance target identification and tracking.
- AN/ALQ-211: The AN/ALQ-211 is an integrated defensive electronic countermeasures (IDECM) system that can protect the aircraft from enemy radars and missiles. The AN/ALQ-211 consists of a towed decoy, a radar jammer, and a missile warning system. The AN/ALQ-211 can also coordinate with the AN/ALR-94 to provide optimal countermeasures against threats.
- Common Integrated Processor (CIP): The CIP is the central computer system that integrates and manages all the radar and avionics systems of the F-22 Raptor. The CIP has two identical channels that can process up to 10.5 billion instructions per second each. The CIP can also fuse data from multiple sources and present it to the pilot in a user-friendly format.
F-22 Raptor stealth technology
The F-22 Raptor is a stealthy fighter jet that can evade enemy detection and engagement by reducing its radar cross-section (RCS) and infrared signature. The F-22 Raptor has the following stealth features:
- Shape: The F-22 Raptor has a smooth and angular shape that deflects radar waves away from the source. The F-22 Raptor also has canted vertical stabilizers and aligned edges that reduce its RCS from all angles.
- Coating: The F-22 Raptor has a special paint and skin that absorb and scatter radar waves. The F-22 Raptor also has a radar-absorbent material (RAM) that covers its engine inlets and exhausts, as well as other critical areas.
- Weapons: The F-22 Raptor has internal weapon bays that conceal its weapons from radar. The F-22 Raptor also has doors that open and close quickly to minimize its RCS when launching its weapons.
- Infrared: The F-22 Raptor has a variable nozzle that reduces its exhaust temperature and plume. The F-22 Raptor also has a cooling system that lowers its surface temperature and infrared signature.
- Supercruise: Supercruise is the ability to fly at supersonic speeds without using afterburners, which consume a lot of fuel and increase the infrared signature. The F-22 Raptor can supercruise at speeds of up to Mach 1.8 (1,200 mph, 1,930 km/h) for long distances, giving it an advantage over other fighter jets that have to use afterburners to reach similar speeds. The F-22 Raptor can also accelerate and decelerate quickly, as well as perform high-G maneuvers at supersonic speeds.
- Supermaneuverability: Supermaneuverability is the ability to perform extreme aerobatic maneuvers that exceed the normal limits of flight. The F-22 Raptor can perform supermaneuverability maneuvers such as the Pugachev’s Cobra, the Kulbit, and the J-turn, which allow it to change its direction and orientation rapidly and unpredictably. The F-22 Raptor can also use its thrust vectoring nozzles to control its pitch, yaw, and roll independently of its wings and tail surfaces.
F-22 Raptor pilot training
The F-22 Raptor is a sophisticated fighter jet that requires highly skilled and trained pilots to operate it. The F-22 Raptor pilot training program is one of the most rigorous and selective in the world, as it involves both academic and practical aspects. The F-22 Raptor pilot training program consists of the following stages:
- Basic Training: The basic training stage is the initial phase of the F-22 Raptor pilot training program, where the candidates learn the fundamentals of flying and aerodynamics, as well as the history and mission of the F-22 Raptor. The basic training stage lasts for about six months and includes classroom instruction, simulator sessions, and flight tests.
- Advanced Training: The advanced training stage is the intermediate phase of the F-22 Raptor pilot training program, where the candidates learn the advanced skills and techniques of flying and fighting with the F-22 Raptor. The advanced training stage lasts for about 12 months and includes more simulator sessions, flight tests, and combat exercises.
- Operational Training: The operational training stage is the final phase of the F-22 Raptor pilot training program, where the candidates learn how to operate and integrate with other F-22 Raptors and friendly aircraft and assets in real-world scenarios. The operational training stage lasts for about 18 months and includes more combat exercises, mission planning, and debriefing.
F-22 Raptor maintenance
The F-22 Raptor is a complex fighter jet that requires intensive and frequent maintenance to keep it operational and combat-ready. The F-22 Raptor maintenance program is one of the most challenging and costly in the world, as it involves both preventive and corrective aspects. The F-22 Raptor maintenance program consists of the following elements:
- Preventive Maintenance: The preventive maintenance element is the proactive part of the F-22 Raptor maintenance program, where the maintenance personnel perform regular inspections, checks, and services on the aircraft and its components. The preventive maintenance element aims to prevent or reduce the occurrence of failures and malfunctions, as well as to extend the lifespan and reliability of the aircraft and its components. The preventive maintenance element includes tasks such as:
- Cleaning and lubricating the aircraft and its parts
- Checking and adjusting the aircraft’s systems and settings
- Replacing or repairing worn or damaged parts
- Testing and calibrating the aircraft’s instruments and sensors
- Applying and restoring the aircraft’s stealth coating and RAM
- Corrective Maintenance: The corrective maintenance element is the reactive part of the F-22 Raptor maintenance program, where the maintenance personnel diagnose and fix the problems and issues that arise on the aircraft and its components. The corrective maintenance element aims to restore or improve the functionality and performance of the aircraft and its components, as well as to ensure the safety and readiness of the aircraft and its crew. The corrective maintenance element includes tasks such as:
- Troubleshooting and identifying the causes and effects of failures and malfunctions
- Isolating and removing faulty or defective parts
- Installing or replacing new or refurbished parts
- Verifying and validating the repairs and modifications
- Documenting and reporting the maintenance actions and results
F-22 Raptor future programs
The F-22 Raptor is a futuristic fighter jet that has been constantly evolving and improving since its inception. The F-22 Raptor has several future programs and initiatives that aim to enhance its capabilities and performance, as well as to address its challenges and limitations. The F-22 Raptor future programs and initiatives include the following:
- Increment 3.2B: The Increment 3.2B is a software upgrade that will enable the F-22 Raptor to use the AIM-9X Sidewinder and the AIM-120D AMRAAM, which are the latest versions of the air-to-air missiles. The Increment 3.2B will also improve the F-22 Raptor’s electronic warfare, communication, and navigation systems, as well as its interoperability with other friendly aircraft and assets.
- Tactical Mandates: The Tactical Mandates are a series of hardware upgrades that will enhance the F-22 Raptor’s survivability and lethality. The Tactical Mandates include adding a helmet-mounted display (HMD), a missile launch detector (MLD), a radar modernization program (RMP), and an automatic ground collision avoidance system (Auto-GCAS).
- Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD): The NGAD is a program that will develop a new family of advanced aircraft that will complement and eventually replace the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lightning II. The NGAD will leverage new technologies and concepts, such as artificial intelligence, digital engineering, and open architecture, to create a networked and adaptable system that can operate in any domain and environment.