Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor

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F-22 Raptor
1 FW F-22 Raptor participates in Red Flag.jpg
A USAF F-22A Raptor flies in a training mission during Red Flag 2012 over Nevada.
RoleStealth air superiority fighter
National originUnited States
ManufacturerLockheed Martin Aeronautics
Boeing Defense, Space & Security
First flight7 September 1997[1]
Introduction15 December 2005
StatusIn service
Primary userUnited States Air Force
ProducedF-22: 1996–2011[2]
Number built195 (eight test and 187 operational) aircraft[2]
Program costUS$66.7 billion[3]
Unit cost
US$150 million (flyaway cost for FY2009)[4]
Developed fromLockheed YF-22
Developed intoLockheed Martin X-44 MANTA
Lockheed Martin FB-22
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F-22 Raptor
1 FW F-22 Raptor participates in Red Flag.jpg
A USAF F-22A Raptor flies in a training mission during Red Flag 2012 over Nevada.
RoleStealth air superiority fighter
National originUnited States
ManufacturerLockheed Martin Aeronautics
Boeing Defense, Space & Security
First flight7 September 1997[1]
Introduction15 December 2005
StatusIn service
Primary userUnited States Air Force
ProducedF-22: 1996–2011[2]
Number built195 (eight test and 187 operational) aircraft[2]
Program costUS$66.7 billion[3]
Unit cost
US$150 million (flyaway cost for FY2009)[4]
Developed fromLockheed YF-22
Developed intoLockheed Martin X-44 MANTA
Lockheed Martin FB-22

The Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor is a single-seat, twin-engine fifth-generation supersonic supermaneuverable fighter aircraft that uses stealth technology. It was designed primarily as an air superiority fighter, but has additional capabilities that include ground attack, electronic warfare, and signals intelligence roles.[5] Lockheed Martin Aeronautics is the prime contractor and is responsible for the majority of the airframe, weapon systems and final assembly of the F-22. Program partner Boeing Defense, Space & Security provides the wings, aft fuselage, avionics integration, and training systems.

The aircraft was variously designated F-22 and F/A-22 prior to formally entering service in December 2005 as the F-22A. Despite a protracted development, the United States Air Force considers the F-22 a critical component of their tactical air power, and claims that the aircraft is unmatched by any known or projected fighter.[6] Lockheed Martin claims that the Raptor's combination of stealth, speed, agility, precision and situational awareness, combined with air-to-air and air-to-ground combat capabilities, makes it the best overall fighter in the world today.[7] Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, former Chief of the Australian Defence Force, said in 2004 that the "F-22 will be the most outstanding fighter plane ever built."[8]

The high cost of the aircraft, a lack of clear air-to-air missions because of delays in Russian and Chinese fighter programs, a ban on exports, and development of the cheaper and more versatile F-35 led to the end of F-22 production.[N 1] A final procurement tally of 187 operational aircraft was established in 2009;[10] the final F-22 rolled off the assembly line on 13 December 2011 during a ceremony at Dobbins Air Reserve Base.[11]

Starting in 2010, the F-22 was plagued by oxygen system problems which contributed to one crash and death of a pilot. In 2011 the fleet was grounded for four months before resuming flight, reports of oxygen issues persisted.[12] In July 2012, the Air Force announced that the hypoxia-like symptoms experienced were caused by a faulty valve in the pilots' pressure vest; the valve was replaced and the filtration system also changed.



In 1981 the U.S. Air Force developed a requirement for an Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) as a new air superiority fighter to replace the F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon. This was influenced by the emerging worldwide threats, including development and proliferation of Soviet Su-27 "Flanker"- and MiG-29 "Fulcrum"-class fighter aircraft. It would take advantage of the new technologies in fighter design on the horizon, including composite materials, lightweight alloys, advanced flight-control systems, more powerful propulsion systems, and stealth technology. A request for proposals (RFP) was issued in July 1986 and two contractor teams, Lockheed/Boeing/General Dynamics and Northrop/McDonnell Douglas, were selected on 31 October 1986 to undertake a 50-month demonstration phase, culminating in the flight test of two prototypes, the YF-22 and the YF-23.[13][14][15]

Each design team produced two prototypes, one for each of the two engine options. The Lockheed-led team chose to employ thrust vectoring for enhanced pitch performance, a useful capability in dogfights. The ATF's increasing weight and cost drove out some features during development. A dedicated infra-red search and track (IRST) system was downgraded from multi-color to single color and then deleted, the side-looking radars were deleted and the ejection seat requirement was downgraded from a fresh design to the existing McDonnell Douglas ACES II.[16]

After a 90-day flight test validation of the prototype air vehicles, on 23 April 1991, Secretary of the U.S. Air Force Donald Rice announced the YF-22 was the winner of the ATF competition.[17] The YF-23 design was more stealthy and faster, but the YF-22 was more agile.[18] The aviation press speculated that the YF-22 was also more adaptable to the Navy's Navalized Advanced Tactical Fighter (NATF), but by 1992, the U.S. Navy had abandoned NATF.[19] In 1991, the USAF planned to buy 650 aircraft.[20]

Production and procurement[edit]

F-22 being painted. Workers wearing white apparel standing on the aircraft's top applying a gray and black coat over the F-22. Temporary construction equipment surrounds its leading edges and nose sections.
The first operational F-22 Raptor is painted at the Lockheed Martin assembly plant at Marietta, Georgia

On 9 April 1997, the production F-22 model was unveiled at Lockheed Georgia Co., Marietta, Georgia. It first flew on 7 September 1997. The first production F-22 was delivered to Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, on 7 January 2003.[21] In 2006, the Raptor's development team, composed of Lockheed Martin and over 1,000 other companies, plus the United States Air Force, won the Collier Trophy, American aviation's most prestigious award.[22] In 2006, the USAF sought to acquire 381 F-22s, to be divided among seven active duty combat squadrons and three integrated Air Force Reserve Command and Air National Guard squadrons.[23]

A diagram of the various manufacturers of the F-22

Several design changes were made from the YF-22 for production. The swept-back angle on the wing's leading edge was decreased from 48° to 42°, while the vertical stabilizer area was decreased by 20%. To improve pilot visibility, the canopy was moved forward 7 inches (178 mm), and the engine intakes moved rearward 14 inches (356 mm). The shapes of the wing and stabilator trailing edges were refined to improve aerodynamics, strength, and stealth characteristics.[24][25] Also, the vertical stabilizer was shifted rearward.[26] During development, the aircraft increased considerably in weight, reducing its range and aerodynamic performance, despite several systems being removed from the design.[27]

F-22 production was split up over many subcontractors across 46 states, in a strategy to increase Congressional support;[28][29] this production split, along with several technologies employed, was likely responsible for increased costs and delays.[30] Many capabilities were deferred to post-service upgrades, reducing the initial cost but increasing total cost.[31] Each aircraft built required "1,000 subcontractors and suppliers and 95,000 workers".[32] The F-22 was in production for 15 years, at a rate of roughly two per month.[33]

Two F-22s overflying snow-capped mountains.
Two F-22s during flight testing, the upper one being the first EMD F-22, "Raptor 01"

The United States Air Force originally planned to order 750 ATFs at a cost of $26.2 billion,[34] with production beginning in 1994; however, the 1990 Major Aircraft Review led by Defense Secretary Dick Cheney altered the plan to 648 aircraft beginning in 1996. In 1994, the number was cut to 438 aircraft to enter service in 2003-2004; a 1997 Department of Defense report put the purchase at 339.[34] In 2003, the Air Force state the existing congressional cost cap limited the purchase to 277. In December 2004, the Department of Defense reduced funding so only 183 aircraft could be bought.[35] The Pentagon stated the reduction to 183 fighters would save $15 billion but raise the cost of each aircraft; this was implemented in the form of a multi-year procurement plan, which allowed for further orders later. The total cost of the program by 2006 was $62 billion.[23]

In April 2006, the cost of the F-22 was assessed by the Government Accountability Office to be $361 million per aircraft. By April 2006, $28 billion had been invested in F-22 development and testing; while the Unit Procurement Cost was estimated at $177.6 million in 2006, based on a production run of 181 aircraft.[36][37] It was estimated by the end of production, $34 billion will have been spent on procurement, resulting in a total program cost of $62 billion, around $339 million per aircraft. The incremental cost for an additional F-22 was estimated at about $138 million.[23][38] In March 2012, the GAO increased the estimated cost to $412 million per aircraft.[39][40] On 31 July 2007, Lockheed Martin received a $7.3 billion contract for 60 F-22s.[41][42] The contract brought the number of F-22s on order to 183 and extended production through 2011.[41]

Ban on exports[edit]

The F-22 cannot be exported under American federal law.[43] Customers for U.S. fighters are either acquiring earlier designs such as the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle, General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon, and Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, or shall acquire the upcoming Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II (Joint Strike Fighter), which contains technology from the F-22 but is designed to be cheaper, more flexible, and available for export.[44] On 27 September 2006, Congress upheld the ban on foreign F-22 sales.[45] However, the 2010 defense authorization bill included provisions requiring the DoD to prepare a report on the costs and feasibility for an F-22 export variant, and another report on the impact of F-22 export sales on the U.S. aerospace industry.[46][47]

Some Australian politicians and defense commentators proposed that Australia should purchase F-22s instead of the F-35.[48][49] In 2006, Kim Beazley, leader of the Australian Labor Party supported this proposal on the grounds that the F-22 is a proven, highly capable aircraft, while the F-35 is still under development.[50] However, Australia's Howard government ruled out purchase of the F-22, as its release for export is unlikely, and lacks sufficient ground/maritime strike capacity.[51] The following year, the newly elected Rudd government ordered a review of plans to procure the F-35 and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, including an evaluation of the F-22's suitability. The then Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon stated: "I intend to pursue American politicians for access to the Raptor".[52] In February 2008, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he had no objection to F-22 sales to Australia.[53] However, the RAAF found that the "F-22 Raptor cannot perform the strike or close air support roles planned for the JSF."[54]

"The IAF would be happy to equip itself with 24 F-22s, but the problem at this time is the U.S. refusal to sell the aircraft, and its $200 million price tag."

Israeli Air Force (IAF) chief procurement officer Brigadier-General Ze'ev Snir.[55]

The Japanese government showed interest in the F-22 for its Replacement-Fighter program.[56] However, a sale would need approval from the Pentagon, State Department and Congress. It was stated that the F-22 would decrease the number of fighters needed by the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF), reducing engineering and staffing costs. In August 2009, it was reported that the F-22 would require increases to the military budget beyond the historical 1 percent of GDP.[57] In June 2009, Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said Japan still sought the F-22.[58]

Thomas Crimmins of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy speculated in 2009 that the F-22 could be a strong diplomatic tool for Israel, strengthening the capability to strike Iranian nuclear facilities.[59] Crimmins also claimed that the F-22 may be the only aircraft able to evade the Russian S-300 air defense system, which may be sold to Iran;[60] Lockheed Martin has stated that the F-35 can handle the S-300.[61]

Production termination[edit]

In 2006, David M. Walker, Comptroller General of the United States at the time, found that "the DoD has not demonstrated the need or value for making further investments in the F-22A program."[62] In 2007, several U.S. Senators demanded Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon R. England release three government reports supporting additional F-22s beyond the planned 183 jets.[63] In January 2008, the Pentagon announced that it would ask Congress to fund additional F-22s to replace other aircraft lost in combat, and proposed that $497 million that would have been used to shut down the F-22 line be instead used to buy four extra F-22s;[64] the funds earmarked for line shutdown were later redirected to repair work on the F-15 fleet.[65]

Two F-22As in close trail formation

On 24 September 2008, Congress passed a defense spending bill funding continued production of the F-22.[66] On 12 November 2008, the Pentagon released $50 million of the $140 million approved by Congress to buy parts for an additional four aircraft, thus leaving the Raptor program in the hands of the incoming Obama Administration.[67] On 6 April 2009, Secretary of Defense Gates called for the phasing out of F-22 production in fiscal year 2011, leaving the USAF with a production run of 187 fighters, minus losses.[10] On 17 June 2009 the House Armed Services Committee inserted $368.8 million in the budget towards a further 12 F-22s in FY 2011.[68]

On 9 July 2009, General James Cartwright, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, explained to the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services his reasons for supporting termination of F-22 production. He stated that fifth-generation fighters need to be proliferated to all three services by shifting resources to the multirole F-35. He noted that commanders had concerns regarding electronic warfare (EW) capabilities, and that keeping the F/A-18 production line "hot" offered a fallback option to the F-35 in the EA-18G Growler.[69] By mid-2009, leaked reports from the Pentagon to The Washington Post stated that the F-22 had suffered from poor reliability and availability, specifically an average of one critical failure for every 1.7 flying hours and 30 hours of maintenance per flight hour;[44] the USAF disputed the accuracy of this figure.[70]

On 21 July 2009, President Obama threatened to veto further production.[71][72] On 21 July 2009, the Senate voted in favor of ending F-22 production. Secretary Gates said that the decision was taken in light of the F-35's capabilities.[73] On 29 July 2009, the Air National Guard's director asked for "60 to 70" F-22s for air sovereignty missions, noting that these could lack capabilities such as ground attack.[74] On 30 July 2009, the House agreed to remove funds for an additional 12 aircraft and abide by the 187 cap.[75] In mid-2010, Gates reduced the F-22 requirement from 243 to 187 aircraft, by lowering the preparations for two major regional conflicts to one.[76]

"The Pentagon cannot continue with business as usual when it comes to the F-22 or any other program in excess of our needs."

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, speaking on the cancellation.[77][78]

In 2010, RAND estimated that to restart production and build an additional 75 F-22s would cost a total of $17 billion or $227 million per aircraft; shutting down and restarting production two years later would add $54 million to the average cost.[79] Lockheed Martin stated that restarting the production line itself would cost about $200 million.[80] The RAND paper was produced as part of a USAF study to determine the costs of retaining F-22 tooling for a future Service Life Extension Program (SLEP).[81] Production tooling will be documented in illustrated electronic manuals stored at the Sierra Army Depot.[82] Retained tooling will produce additional components; due to the limited production run there are no reserve aircraft, leading to considerable care during maintenance.[83]

Russian and Chinese fighter developments have fueled concern; in 2009, General John Corley, head of Air Combat Command, stated in a letter written to a senator that a fleet of 187 F-22s would be inadequate, but Gates dismissed this concern.[84] On 8 January 2011, Gates clarified that Chinese fifth-generation fighter developments had been accounted when the number of F-22s was set, and that the United States would have a considerable advantage in stealth aircraft in 2025, even with F-35 delays.[85] In December 2011, the 195th and final F-22 was completed (out of 8 test and 187 combat aircraft produced).[86]


The first combat-capable Block 3.0 aircraft was first flown on 5 January 2001.[87] In 2009, Increment 3.1 began testing, providing a basic ground-attack capability through synthetic-aperture radar mapping and radio emitter direction finding, electronic attack and the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb.[88] The Increment 3.1 Modification Team with the 412th Test Wing received the Chief of Staff Team Excellence Award for upgrading 149 Raptors.[89][90] The first upgraded aircraft was delivered in 2012.[91]

F-22 Raptor, Andrews Air Force Base

Increment 3.2 was to add an improved SDB capability, an automatic ground collision avoidance system and enable use of the AIM-9X Sidewinder and AIM-120D AMRAAM missiles.[92] In 2009, three business jets were equipped with the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) for communicating between the F-22 and other platforms prior to the Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL).[93] In March 2010, the USAF accelerated software portions of Increment 3.2 to be completed in FY 2013.[94] Applying the 3.2 upgrade to 183 aircraft was estimated to cost $8 billion, officials stated that this to be funded via the early retirement of legacy fighters.[95][96]

In January 2011, the USAF opened the Raptor enhancement, development and integration (REDI) contract to bidders, with a $16 billion budget.[97] In November 2011, Lockheed Martin's upgrade contract was increased by $1.4 billion to a maximum value of $7.4 billion.[98][99] Of the $11.7 billion allocated for upgrades, almost $2 billion was for structural repairs and to increase the fleet's availability rate from 55.5% to 70.6% by 2015.[100] In 2010, Lockheed Martin proposed adding F-35 technologies,[101] such as durable stealth coatings.[102] Elements such as MADL are delayed until the F-35 program is completed.[103]

Increment 3.2A in 2014 focuses on electronic warfare, communications and identification; Increment 3.2B in 2017 involves the AIM-9X and AIM-120D missiles.[104] Lockheed Martin is developing the AN/AAR-56 Missile Launch Detector (MLD) to provide Infrared Search and Track functionality, similar to the F-35's SAIRST.[105] The F-22 is unable to utilize off-boresight and lock-on after launch missile functions;[106] a planned evaluation of the Visionix Scorpion helmet-mounted cueing system (HMCS), capable of off-boresight missile launches,[107] was canceled due to sequestration in 2013.[108] By 2012, the update schedule had slipped seven years because of "requirements and funding instability".[109]

In February 2013, Lockheed's upgrade contract was modified to include the 3.2B features, bringing the total upgrade cost to $6.9 billion; work is expected to be completed by 2023. Increment 3.2C, which may include the adoption of an open avionics platform and air traffic control updates, was redesignated as Increment 3.3.[110][111] In 2016, the F-22 fleet shall be upgraded to 36 Block 20 training aircraft and 149 Block 30/35 operational aircraft.

While no definitive, single cause was found for the frequent oxygen deprivation issues responsible for several incidents, including a fatal crash, the F-22 will be upgraded with a backup oxygen system, software upgrades and oxygen sensors to normal operatons in spite of the problem.[112] In 2013, the faulty flight vest valves were replaced and altitude restrictions lifted; distance restrictions will be lifted once a backup oxygen system is installed.[113]

The F-22 was designed for a lifespan of 30 years and 8000 flight hours, with a $100 million "structures retrofit program".[114] Investigations are being made for upgrades to extend their useful lives further.[115] In the long term, the F-22 is expected to eventually be replaced by the Next Generation Air Dominance program.[116]



Rear view of jet aircraft in-flight at dawn/dusk above mountains. Its engines are in full afterburner, evident through the presence of shock diamonds.
F-22 Raptor flying with its F119-PW-100 engines on full afterburner

The F-22 Raptor is a fifth generation fighter that is considered a fourth-generation stealth aircraft by the USAF.[117] Its dual afterburning Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 turbofans incorporate pitch axis thrust vectoring, with a range of ±20 degrees. The maximum thrust is classified, though most sources place it at about 35,000 lbf (156 kN) per engine.[118] Maximum speed, without external weapons, is estimated to be Mach 1.82 in supercruise mode,[119] as demonstrated by General John P. Jumper, former U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff, when his F-22 exceeded Mach 1.7 without afterburners on 13 January 2005.[120] With afterburners, it is "greater than Mach 2.0" (greater than 1,327 mph, 2,135 km/h). Former Lockheed chief test pilot Paul Metz stated that the Raptor has a fixed inlet, as opposed to variable intake ramps, and that the F-22 has a greater climb rate than the F-15.[121] The Air Force claims that the Raptor cannot be matched by any known or projected fighter types,[6] and Lockheed Martin claims: "the F-22 is the only aircraft that blends supercruise speed, super-agility, stealth and sensor fusion into a single air dominance platform."[122]

To withstand both stress and heat factors, the F-22 makes extensive use of materials such as high-strength titanium and composites to a greater degree than previous fighters, at 39% and 24% respectively.[123] The use of internal weapons bays allows the aircraft to maintain a comparatively higher performance while carrying a heavy payload over most aircraft due to a lack of drag from external stores. It is one of only a few aircraft that can supercruise or sustain supersonic flight without the use of afterburners, which consume vastly more fuel; targets can be intercepted which subsonic aircraft would lack the speed to pursuit and an afterburner-dependent aircraft lack the fuel to reach.[124]

F-22 Raptor flight demonstration video

The F-22 is highly maneuverable, at both supersonic and subsonic speeds. It is extremely departure-resistant,[125] enabling it to remain controllable at extreme pilot inputs. The Raptor's thrust vectoring nozzles allow the aircraft to turn tightly, and perform extremely high alpha (angle of attack) maneuvers such as the Herbst maneuver (or J-turn), Pugachev's Cobra,[121] and the Kulbit.[121] The F-22 is also capable of maintaining a constant angle of attack of over 60° while maintaining some control of roll.[121][126] During June 2006 exercises in Alaska, F-22 pilots demonstrated the significant effect of cruise altitude on combat performance, attributing the altitude advantage as a major factor in achieving an unblemished kill ratio against other fighters.[127]The F-22's design did introduce some limitations, however, as aircraft designers at Sukhoi noted when they designed the T-50. The F-22's engines are very close together, so thrust vectoring is not available to assist roll or yaw (see Aircraft principal axes), and there is no room for weapons bays on the same plane as the engines; they had to be placed around and below inlet ducts. The inlets' twisting design adds extra weight and recovery from stalls is complicated if thrust vectoring fails.[128]

The F-22 has a unique combination of speed, altitude, agility, sensor fusion and stealth that work together for increased effectiveness. Altitude and advanced active and passive sensors allows targets to be spotted at considerable ranges; altitude and speed increases weapons reach. Altitude increases range from ground defenses, which increases stealth's effectiveness, combined with speed, defensive systems have less time to react to an F-22.[129][130][131][132]


Key avionics include BAE Systems E&IS radar warning receiver (RWR) AN/ALR-94,[133] AN/AAR-56 Infra-Red and Ultra-Violet MAWS (Missile Approach Warning System) and the Northrop Grumman AN/APG-77 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar. The RWR is a passive radar detector, more than 30 antennas are blended into the wings and fuselage for all-round coverage. Tom Burbage, former F-22 program head at Lockheed Martin, described it as "the most technically complex piece of equipment on the aircraft." The range of the RWR (250+ nmi) exceeds the radar's, allowing radar emissions to be limited for maximized stealth. The RWR can cue the radar to track approaching targets with a narrow beam ( down to 2° by 2° in azimuth and elevation).[134]

Two personnel in white apparel handing a radar
The AN/APG-77 AESA radar

The AN/APG-77 radar, designed for air superiority and strike operations, features a low-observable, active-aperture, electronically-scanned array that can track multiple targets in any weather. Additionally, the radar emissions can be focused in an electronic-attack capability to overload enemy sensors.[135][136] The AN/APG-77 changes frequencies more than 1,000 times per second to lower interception probability. The radar has an estimated range of 125–150 miles, though planned upgrades will allow a range of 250 miles (400 km) or more in narrow beams.[127]

Radar information is processed by two Raytheon Common Integrated Processor (CIP)s; each CIP can process up to 10.5 billion instructions per second. Information from the radar, other sensors, and external systems is filtered by the CIP in a process known as sensor fusion; combining and processing data from multiple systems into a common view to prevent the pilot from being overwhelmed.[137] The F-22's software has some 1.7 million lines of code, the majority involving processing radar data.[138] In 2007, tests by Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, and L-3 Communications used the F-22's radar as a wireless data transceiver, able to transmit data at 548 megabits per second and receive at gigabit speed, far faster than the Link 16 system.[139]

The F-22 has a threat detection and identification capability comparative with the RC-135 Rivet Joint.[127] The F-22's stealth allows it to safely operate far closer to the battlefield, compensating for the reduced capability.[127] The F-22 is capable of functioning as a "mini-AWACS", however the radar is less powerful than those of dedicated platforms such as the E-3 Sentry.[121] The F-22 allows its pilot to designate targets for cooperating F-15s and F-16s, and determine whether two friendly aircraft are targeting the same aircraft.[121][127] This radar system can sometimes identify targets "many times quicker than the AWACS".[127] The radar is capable of high-bandwidth data transmission; conventional radio "chatter" can be reduced via these alternative means.[127] The IEEE-1394B data bus developed for the F-22 was derived from the commercial IEEE-1394 "FireWire" bus system.[140]

In 2009 former Navy Secretary John Lehman stated that "[the F-22s] are safe from cyberattack. No one in China knows how to program the '83 vintage IBM software that runs them."[141] Former Secretary of the USAF Michael Wynne blamed the use of the DoD's Ada for cost overruns and delays on many military projects, including the F-22.[142] Cyberattacks on Lockheed Martin's subcontractors have reportedly raised doubts about the security of the F-22's systems and combat-effectiveness.[143]


Cockpit of the F-22, showing instruments, head up display and throttle top (lower left)

The F-22 features a glass cockpit with all-digital flight instruments.[144] The primary flight controls are a force-sensitive side-stick controller and a pair of throttles. The USAF initially wanted to implement direct voice input (DVI) controls; however this was judged to be too technically risky and abandoned.[145] The monochrome head-up display offers a wide field of view and serves as a primary flight instrument; information is also displayed upon six color liquid crystal display (LCD) panels.[144] The canopy's dimensions are approximately 140 inches long, 45 inches wide, and 27 inches tall (355 cm x 115 cm x 69 cm) and weighs 360 pounds.[146]

The F-22 has integrated radio functionality, the signal processing systems are virtualized rather than as a separate hardware module.[147] There has been several reports on the F-22's inability to communicate with other aircraft, and funding cuts have affected the development of the MADL data link.[148][149] Voice communication is possible, but not data transfer.[150]

The integrated control panel (ICP) is a keypad system for entering communications, navigation, and autopilot data. Two 3 in × 4 in (7.6 cm × 10.2 cm) up-front displays located around the ICP are used to display integrated caution advisory/warning data, communications, navigation and identification (CNI) data[151] and also serve as the stand-by flight instrumentation group and fuel quantity indicator.[152] The stand-by flight group displays an artificial horizon, for basic instrument meteorological conditions. The 8 in × 8 in (20 cm × 20 cm) primary multi-function display (PMFD) is located under the ICP, and is used for navigation and situation assessment.[152] Three 6.25 in × 6.25 in (15.9 cm × 15.9 cm) secondary multi-function displays are located around the PMFD for tactical information and stores management.[152]

The ejection seat is a version of the ACES II (Advanced Concept Ejection Seat) commonly used in USAF aircraft, with a center-mounted ejection control.[153] The F-22 has a complex life support system. Components include the on-board oxygen generation system (OBOGS), protective pilot garments, and a breathing regulator/anti-g valve controlling flow and pressure to the pilot's mask and garments. The protective garments are designed to protect against chemical/biological hazards and cold-water immersion, to counter g-forces and low pressure at high altitudes, and to provide thermal relief. It was developed under the Advanced Technology Anti-G Suit (ATAGS) project.[154] Suspicions regarding the performance of the OBOGS and life support equipment have been raised by several mishaps, including a fatal crash.[155]


AIM-120 AMRAAM (right) fitted in a weapons bay of an F-22 Raptor

The Raptor has three internal weapons bays: a large bay on the bottom of the fuselage, and two smaller bays on the sides of the fuselage, aft of the engine intakes.[156] It can carry six medium range missiles in the center bay and one short range missile in each side bay;[157] Four of the medium range missiles can be replaced with two bomb racks that can each carry one medium-size or four smaller bombs.[130] Carrying armaments internally maintains its stealth capability and lowers drag for higher top speeds and longer range. Missile launches require the bay doors to be open for less than a second, hydraulic arms push missiles clear of the aircraft; this is to reduce vulnerability to detection and to deploy missiles during high speed flight.[158]

For stealth, the F-22 carries weapons in internal bays. The doors for the center bay and smaller side bays are open showing the six LAU-142/A AMRAAM Vertical Ejection Launchers (AVEL).

The F-22 can also carry air-to-surface weapons such as bombs with Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) guidance and the Small-Diameter Bomb, but cannot self-designate for laser-guided weapons.[159] Air-to-surface ordnance is limited to 2,000 lb (compared to 17,000 lb of F/A-18).[160] An internally-mounted M61A2 Vulcan 20 mm cannon is embedded the right wing root, the cannon is also covered by a door to maximize stealth.[161] During training, the F-22 has been able to close to cannon range in dogfights while avoiding detection.[121] The aircraft's radar can track cannon fire and display it on the pilot's heads up display.[162]

The Raptor's very high cruise speed and altitude increase the effective ranges of its munitions, the F-22 has a 40% greater employment range for air to air missiles than the F-35.[163] The USAF plans to procure the AIM-120D AMRAAM, reported to have a 50% increase in range compared to the AIM-120C. While specifics are classified, it is expected that JDAMs employed by F-22s will have twice or more the effective range of legacy platforms.[164] In testing, a Raptor dropped a 1,000 lb (450 kg) free-fall JDAM from 50,000 feet (15,000 m), while cruising at Mach 1.5, striking a moving target 24 miles (39 km) away.[165] This reach advantage was cited by Robert Gottliebsen as reason for Australia to favor an updated F-22 over the F-35.[166]

While the F-22 typically carries its weapons internally, the wings include four hardpoints, each rated to handle 5,000 lb (2,300 kg). Each hardpoint has a pylon that can carry a detachable 600 gallon fuel tank or a launcher holding two air-air missiles. However, the use of external stores has a detrimental effect on the F-22's stealth, maneuverability and speed. The two inner hardpoints are "plumbed" for external fuel tanks; the hardpoints can be jettisoned in flight so the fighter can maximize its stealth after exhausting external stores.[167] A stealth ordnance pod and pylon is being developed to carry additional weapons internally.[168]


The stealth of the F-22 is due to a combination of factors, including the overall shape of the aircraft, the use of radar absorbent material, and attention to detail such as hinges and pilot helmets that could provide a radar return.[169] However, reduced radar cross section is one of five facets of presence reduction addressed in the designing of the F-22. The F-22 was designed to disguise its infrared emissions, reducing the threat of infrared homing ("heat seeking") surface-to-air or air-to-air missiles, including its flat thrust vectoring nozzles.[170] The aircraft was designed to be less visible to the naked eye; radio, heat and noise emissions are equally controlled.[169]

F-22 with external weapons pylons

The F-22 reportedly relies less on maintenance-intensive radar absorbent coatings than previous stealth designs like the F-117. These materials are susceptible to adverse weather conditions.[171] Unlike the B-2, which requires climate-controlled hangars, the F-22 can undergo repairs on the flight line or in a normal hangar.[171] The F-22 features a Signature Assessment System which delivers warnings when the radar signature is degraded and has necessitated repair.[171] The exact radar cross section (RCS) remains classified; however, in 2009 Lockheed Martin released information indicating it to have a RCS (from certain angles) of −40 dBsm – the equivalent radar reflection of a "steel marble".[172] Effectively maintaining the stealth features can decrease the F-22's mission capable rate to 62–70%.[N 2]

The effectiveness of the stealth characteristics is difficult to gauge. The RCS value is a restrictive measurement of the aircraft's frontal or side area from the perspective of a static radar. When an aircraft maneuvers it exposes a completely different set of angles and surface area, potentially increasing visibility. Furthermore, stealth contouring and radar absorbent materials are chiefly effective against high-frequency radars, usually found on other aircraft. Low-frequency radars, employed by weather radars and ground warning stations, are alleged to be less affected by stealth technologies and are thus more capable as detection platforms.[174][175] Rebecca Grant states that while faint or fleeting radar contacts make defenders aware that a stealth aircraft is present, interception cannot be reliably vectored to attack the aircraft.[176]

The F-22 also includes measures designed to minimize its detection by infrared, including special paint and active cooling of leading edges to deal with the heat buildup encountered during supercruise flight.[177]

Operational history[edit]

Designation and testing[edit]

Rear/starboard view of aerial refueling tanker transferring fuel to a jet fighter via a long boom. The two aircraft are slightly banking left.
An F-22 refuels from a KC-135 during testing; the attachment on the back top is for a spin recovery chute

The YF-22 was originally given the unofficial name "Lightning II", after the World War II fighter P-38, by Lockheed, which persisted until the mid-1990s when the USAF officially named the aircraft "Raptor". The aircraft was also briefly dubbed "SuperStar" and "Rapier".[178] In September 2002, Air Force leaders changed the Raptor's designation to F/A-22, mimicking the Navy's McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet and intended to highlight a planned ground-attack capability amid debate over the aircraft's role and relevance. The F-22 designation was reinstated in December 2005, when the aircraft entered service.[6][179]

Flight testing began with Raptor 4001, the first engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) jet, in 1997. Nine F-22s would participate in the EMD and flight testing program.[180] Raptor 4001 was retired from flight testing in 2000 and subsequently sent to Wright-Patterson AFB for survivability testing, including live fire testing and battle damage repair training.[181] Several EMD F-22s have been used for testing upgrades, and also as maintenance trainers.[182]

In May 2006, a released report documented a problem with the F-22's forward titanium boom, caused by defective heat-treating. This made the boom on roughly the first 80 F-22s less ductile than specified and potentially shortened the part's life. Modifications and inspections were implemented to the booms to restore life expectancy.[183][184]

Entering service[edit]

On 15 December 2005, the USAF announced that the F-22 had achieved Initial Operational Capability (IOC).[185] During Exercise Northern Edge in Alaska in June 2006, in simulated combat exercises 12 F-22s of the 94th FS downed 108 adversaries with no losses.[23] In the exercises, the Raptor-led Blue Force amassed 241 kills against two losses in air-to-air combat; neither Blue Force loss was an F-22. During Red Flag 07-1 in February 2007, 14 F-22s of the 94th FS supported Blue Force strikes and undertook close air support sorties. Against superior numbers of Red Force Aggressor F-15s and F-16s, 6–8 F-22s maintained air dominance throughout. No sorties were missed because of maintenance or other failures, a single one F-22 was judged lost against the defeated opposing force.[N 3] F-22s also provided airborne electronic surveillance.[186]

Aerial port view of two aircraft in flight, one on top of the other. The bottom aircraft is a four-engined propeller-driven aircraft, which is escorted by a jet fighter. The Moon is visible as a tiny spot in the sky.
An F-22 from Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, intercepting a Russian Tupolev Tu-95 near American airspace


On 11 February 2007, while attempting its first overseas deployment to the Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, six F-22s of 27th Fighter Squadron flying from Hickam AFB, Hawaii, experienced multiple software-related system failures while crossing the International Date Line (or 180th meridian of longitude). The aircraft returned to Hawaii by following tanker aircraft. Within 48 hours, the error was resolved and the journey resumed.[187][188] On 22 November 2007, 90th Fighter Squadron performed the first F-22 NORAD interception of two Russian Tu-95MS 'Bear-H' bombers over Alaska.[189] Since then, F-22s have also escorted probing Tu-160 "Blackjack" strategic bombers.[190]

On 12 December 2007, General John D.W. Corley, USAF, Commander of Air Combat Command, officially declared the F-22s of the integrated active duty 1st Fighter Wing and Virginia Air National Guard 192d Fighter Wing fully operational, three years after the first aircraft arrived at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia.[191] This was followed by an Operational Readiness Inspection (ORI) of the integrated wing from 13 to 19 April 2008; it was rated "excellent" in all categories, with a simulated kill-ratio of 221–0.[192] The first pair of F-22s assigned to the 49th Fighter Wing became operational at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, on 2 June 2008.[193]

An F-22 observes as an F-15 Eagle banks left. The F-22 is intended to replace the F-15C/D.

In December 2007, Secretary of the Air Force Michael Wynne requested that the F-22 be deployed to the Middle East; Secretary of Defense Gates rejected this option.[194] Time suggested part of the reason for it not being used in the 2011 military intervention in Libya may have been its high unit cost.[195]

In 2008, prior to the USMC's Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force for Crisis Response, two F-22 pilots proposed that USAF form a rapid response airborne package of one C-17 to support four F-22s, able to set up and engage in combat within 24 hours.[196][197]

On 28 August 2008, an unmodified F-22 of the 411th Flight Test Squadron performed in the first ever air-to-air refueling of an aircraft using synthetic jet fuel as part of a wider USAF effort to qualify aircraft to use the fuel, a 50/50 mix of JP-8 and a Fischer-Tropsch process-produced, natural gas-based fuel.[198] In 2011, an F-22 made a supersonic flight on a 50% mixture of biofuel derived from camelina.[199]

In April 2012, F-22s were deployed to a base in the UAE, less than 200 miles from Iran;[200] the Iranian defense minister referred to the deployment as a security threat.[201] The F-22s returned to the U.S. in January 2013 after a nine-month deployment.[202] On 17 September 2013, the Air Force revealed that an F-22 had chased off an Iranian fighter over the Persian Gulf in March 2013. An Iranian F-4 Phantom II had flown within 16 miles of an MQ-1 Predator flying off the Iranian coastline; the Raptor used its stealth to approach close to the underside of the Phantom before flying alongside. The confrontation is the first publicized engagement involving the F-22 and Iranian military forces.[203]

On 14 January 2013, 12 F-22s arrived at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa in the type's seventh deployment since 2007.[204] In early 2013, F-22s were involved in U.S.-South Korean military drills.[205]

Maintenance and training[edit]

Jet fighter flying above a streaking missile, which had moments earlier been released by the former.
An F-22 fires an AIM-120 AMRAAM

In 2004, the F-22 had a mission ready rate of 62%, this rose to 70% in 2009 and was predicted to reach 85% as the fleet reached 100,000 flight hours.[206] Early on, the F-22 required more than 30 hours of maintenance per flight hour and a total cost per flight hour of $44,000; by 2008 it was reduced to 18.1, and 10.5 by 2009;[206] lower than the Pentagon's requirement of 12 maintenance hours per flight hour.[207] When introduced, the F-22 had a Mean Time Between Maintenance (MTBM) of 1.7 hours; by 2012 the figure was 3.2 hours, exceeding the requirement of 3.0 hours by 2010.[206] By 2013, the cost per flight hour had grown to $68,362, over three times as much as the F-16.[208]

Each aircraft requires a month-long packaged maintenance plan (PMP) every 300 flight hours.[209] The stealth system, including its radar absorbing metallic skin, account for almost one third of maintenance.[206] Many components require custom hand-fitting and are not interchangeable.[44] Against a required life expectancy of 800 hours, the original canopy only averaged 331 hours;[44] thus the canopy was redesigned to successfully meet the 800 hour target.[206]

In January 2007, it was reported that the F-22 maintained a 97% sortie rate (flying 102 out of 105 tasked sorties) while amassing a 144-to-zero kill ratio during "Northern Edge" air-to-air exercises in Alaska. Lieutenant Colonel Wade Tolliver, squadron commander of the 27th Fighter Squadron, commented: "the stealth coatings are not as fragile as they were in earlier stealth aircraft. It isn't damaged by a rain storm and it can stand the wear and tear of combat without degradation."[171] However, rain caused "shorts and failures in sophisticated electrical components" when F-22s were posted to Guam.[210]

In its 2012 budget request, the USAF cut F-22 flight training hours by one-third to reduce operating costs;[211] however F-22 was to continue to operate as the only USAF solo aircraft demonstrator.[212] DoD budget cuts led to F-22 demonstration flights being halted in 2013 to release funds for combat aircraft.[213] In 2012, it was reported that the F-22's maintenance demands have increased as the fleet aged, maintaining the stealth coatings is particularly demanding.[214][215]

Operational issues[edit]

Operational issues have been experienced, some have caused fleet-wide groundings. Critically, pilots have experienced a decreased mental status, including losing consciousness. There were reports of instances of pilots found to have a decreased level of alertness and/or memory loss after landing.[216] F-22 pilots have experienced lingering respiratory problems and a chronic cough; other symptoms include irritability, emotional lability and neurologic changes.[216] A number of possible causative factors were investigated, including possible exposure to noxious chemical agents from the respiratory tubing, pressure suit malfunction, side effects from oxygen delivery at greater-than-atmospheric concentrations, and oxygen supply disruptions. Other issues include minor mechanical problems and navigational software failures.[217]

In 2005, the Raptor Aeromedical Working Group, a USAF expert panel, recommended several changes to deal with the oxygen supply issues.[218] In October 2011, Lockheed Martin was awarded a $24M contract to investigate the breathing difficulties.[219] In July 2012, the Pentagon concluded that a pressure valve on flight vests worn during high-altitude flights and a carbon air filter were likely sources of at least some hypoxia-like symptoms. Long-distance flights were resumed, but were limited to lower altitudes until corrections had been made. The carbon filters were changed to a different model to reduce lung exposure to carbon particulates.[220][221] The breathing regulator/anti-G (BRAG) valve, used to inflate the pilot's vest during high G maneuvers, was found to be defective, inflating the vest at unintended intervals, causing the pilot to shallow-breath.[222] The on-board oxygen generating system (OBOGS) also unexpectedly reduced oxygen levels during high-G maneuvers.[223] In late 2012, Lockheed was awarded contracts to install a supplemental automatic oxygen backup system, in addition to the primary and manual backup.[224] Changes recommended by the Raptor Aeromedical Working Group in 2005 received further consideration in 2012;[225] the USAF reportedly considered installing EEG brain wave monitors on the pilot's helmets for inflight monitoring.[226][227]

New backup oxygen generators and filters have been installed on the aircraft. The coughing symptoms have been attributed to acceleration atelectasis, which may be exacerbated by the F-22's high performance, there is no present solution to the condition. The presence of toxins and particles in some ground crew was been deemed to be unrelated.[228] On 4 April 2013, the distance and altitude flight restrictions were lifted after the F-22 Combined Test Force and 412th Aerospace Medicine Squadron determined that breathing restrictions on the pilot were responsible as opposed to an issue with the oxygen provided.[229][230][231]



The FB-22 was a proposed medium-range bomber for the USAF.[234] The FB-22 was projected to carry up to 30 Small Diameter Bombs to about twice the range of the F-22A, while maintaining the F-22's stealth and supersonic speed.[235] However, the FB-22 in its planned form appears to have been canceled with the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review and subsequent developments, in lieu of a larger subsonic bomber with a much greater range.[236][237]

The X-44 MANTA, or multi-axis, no-tail aircraft, was a planned experimental aircraft based on the F-22 with enhanced thrust vectoring controls and no aerodynamic surface backup.[238] The aircraft was to be solely controlled by thrust vectoring, without featuring any rudders, ailerons, or elevators. Funding for this program was halted in 2000.[239]


F-22A Raptor from Tyndall AFB, Florida cruising over the Florida Panhandle
An F-22 landing at Holloman AFB, New Mexico
An F-22, based at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, over mountain terrain
F-22 Raptor at Houston's Ellington Field from Tyndall AFB

The United States Air Force is the only operator of the F-22. It ordered 8 test and 187 production aircraft. In November 2012, it had 184 production aircraft in inventory.[240]


In April 1992, the second YF-22 crashed while landing at Edwards Air Force Base, California. The test pilot, Tom Morgenfeld, escaped without injury. The cause of the crash was found to be a flight control software error that failed to prevent a pilot-induced oscillation.[250]

The first crash of a production F-22 occurred during takeoff at Nellis Air Force Base on 20 December 2004, in which the pilot ejected safely before impact.[251][252] The crash investigation revealed that a brief interruption in power during an engine shutdown prior to flight caused a malfunction in the flight-control system;[253] consequently the aircraft design was corrected to avoid the problem. All F-22s were grounded after the crash; operations resumed following a review.[254]

On 25 March 2009, an EMD F-22 crashed 35 miles (56 km) northeast of Edwards Air Force Base during a test flight,[255] resulting in the death of Lockheed test pilot David P. Cooley.[44][256] An Air Force Materiel Command investigation found that Cooley momentarily lost consciousness during a high-G maneuver, then ejected when he found himself too low to recover. Cooley was killed during ejection by blunt-force trauma from the aircraft's speed and the windblast. The investigation found no issues with the F-22's design.[257][258]

Wreckage of the F-22 that crashed in November 2012

On 16 November 2010, an F-22, based at Elmendorf, Alaska, crashed, killing the pilot, Captain Jeffrey Haney.[259] The F-22 fleet was restricted to flying below 25,000 feet, before being grounded while the accident was investigated.[260] The accident was attributed to a bleed air system malfunction following the detection of an engine overheat condition, this shut down the Environmental Control System (ECS) and On-Board Oxygen Generating System (OBOGS).[261][262] The accident review board ruled the pilot was to blame, as he did not react properly and did not engage the emergency oxygen system.[262][263] General Schwartz called the Pentagon Office of the Inspector General investigation of the report "routine",[264][265] and rejected pilot blame.[266] The pilot's widow sued, claiming the aircraft has defective equipment;[267] the manufacturers later reached a settlement.[268] In response to the investigation results, the engagement handle for the emergency oxygen system was redesigned; the emergency oxygen system should engage automatically when OBOGS is shut down due to engine failure.[269] On 11 February 2013, the DoD's Inspector General released its report, which found that the USAF had erred in assigning blame to Haney for the crash, stating that conclusions were contradictory, incomplete, or "not supported by facts"; the USAF stated that it stood by its conclusions.[270][271]

During a training mission, an F-22 crashed to the east of Tyndall Air Force Base, on 15 November 2012. The pilot ejected safely and no injuries were reported on the ground.[272][273] The investigation determined that a "chafed" electrical wire ignited the fluid in a hydraulic line, causing a fire that damaged the flight controls.[274]

Aircraft on display[edit]

EMD F-22A 91-4003 is on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force.[275]


Orthographically projected diagram of the F-22A
F-22 with drop tanks in transit to Kadena Air Base, Japan, from Langley Air Force Base, Virginia
USAF poster of key F-22 features and armament

Data from USAF,[6] F-22 Raptor Team web site,[276] Manufacturers' data,[277][278] Aviation Week,[127] and Journal of Electronic Defense,[134]

General characteristics




Notable appearances in media[edit]

See also[edit]

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Related lists



  1. ^ Referring to statements made by the Secretary of Defense Robert Gates: "The secretary once again highlighted his ambitious next-year request for the more-versatile F-35s."[9]
  2. ^ "... noting that Raptors are ready for a mission around 62 percent of the time, if its low-observable requirements are met (DAILY, 20 November). Reliability goes up above 70 percent for missions with lower stealth demands."[173]
  3. ^ The F-22 was "lost" when a victim exited the area, regenerated and immediately re-engaged; the pilot had erroneously assumed it was still "dead".
  4. ^ Previous planning, as noted in 2006 Air Force news releases, appears to have seen the 531st Fighter Squadron take the active associate role, but this has now changed.[248]
  5. ^ empty weight+ 8,200 kg(fuel) + 1,142 kg (6 AMRAAM + 2 AIM-9X) + 292 kg (munition for the cannon)[279]


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External links[edit]