The F-22 Raptor: The World’s Most Advanced Stealth Fighter

The F-22 is a stealthy, penetrating, air dominance, and multirole attack fighter built for day, night, and adverse weather, full-spectrum operations. The world’s most advanced fighter, it combines stealth, supercruise, and high maneuverability. Its integrated avionics and data links permit simultaneous multitarget engagement.

Advanced flight controls and thrust-vectoring, high-performance engines enable high maneuverability. Features include six LCD color cockpit displays, APG-77 AESA radar, EW system with RWR and missile launch detection, JTIDS, IFF, and INS/GPS navigation.

The F-22 Raptor: The World

The prototype YF-22 first flew as part of USAF’s Advanced Tactical Fighter competition on Sept. 29, 1990, followed by the flight of the first F-22 test aircraft in 1997. The Raptor flew its first operational sortie during Noble Eagle in 2006 and debuted in combat striking Islamic State ground targets during Inherent Resolve in 2014.

The F-22 program uses an “agile” modernization strategy to rapidly and continuously develop, test, and field incremental improvements. Significant efforts include the Reliability, Availability, and Maintainability Program (RAMP), Software Increment 3.2B, and tactical capability improvements. RAMP is adding AIM-9X-capable launch rails, more durable LO, as well as structural and wiring fixes.

3.2B software is the highest priority update, adding high-resolution ground mapping SAR, threat geolocation, EA capability, and integration of SDB I, AIM-120D, and AIM-9X. Link-16 (previously TACLink-16) will bundle transmit and receive capability with legacy aircraft via Multifunctional Information Distribution System/Joint Tactical Radio System (MIDS/JTRS) with initial fielding in FY22.

Five 3.2B-modified aircraft began operational testing in 2018, and fleetwide rollout is planned through FY23. A fielding decision on sensor upgrades to preserve “first-shot, first-kill” advantage against advanced threats will follow a flight demo, now planned for late FY21. Additional efforts include engine safety, performance, and maintainability mods, crypto mods, Mode 5 IFF tactical improvements, and GPS-denied navigation capability.

USAF completed structural life-extension mods in 2020, pushing the fleet’s projected service life to 8,000 hours. The service is now evaluating the possibility of a Mid-Life Upgrade Program to increase survivability and lethality. An F-22 was destroyed in a crash at the Eglin Test and Training Range on May 15, 2020.

Contractors: Lockheed Martin; Boeing (production partner).
First Flight: Sept. 7, 1997.
Delivered: Oct. 23, 2002-May 2, 2012.
IOC: Dec. 15, 2005.
Production: 195.
Inventory: 186.
Operator: ACC, AFMC, AFRC (associate), PACAF, ANG.
Aircraft Location: Edwards AFB, Calif.; Eglin AFB, Fla.; JB ElmendorfRichardson, Alaska; JB Langley-Eustis, Va.; JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii; Nellis AFB, Nev.
Active Variant: •F-22A. Fifth-generation air dominance fighter.
Dimensions: Span 44.5 ft, length 62 ft, height 16.6 ft.
Weight: Max T-O 83,500 lb.
Power Plant: Two Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 turbofans, each 35,000 lb thrust.
Performance: Speed Mach 2 with supercruise capability, ferry range 1,850+ miles with two external wing fuel tanks (further with air refueling).
Ceiling: Above 50,000 ft.
Armament: One internal M61A2 20 mm gun (480 rds); two AIM-9 Sidewinders inside internal weapons bays; six AIM-120 AMRAAMs (air-to-air loadout) or two AIM-120s and two GBU-32 JDAMs or eight SDBs (air-toground loadout) in main internal weapons bay.
Accommodation: Pilot on ACES II zero/zero ejection seat.

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