F-22 Raptor Fighter Jet

F-22 Raptor
F-22 Raptor. Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force

The F-22 Raptor is America’s premier air-to-air combat fighter jet that can also perform air-to-ground operations. It is built by Lockheed Martin. The U.S. Air Force has 137 F-22 Raptors in use. The Raptor is the top air combat fighter jet in the world and is designed to dominate the air. Development of the F-22 began in the mid-1980’s at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Production of the F-22 began in 2001 with full production starting in 2005.

The last F-22 was delivered in 2012. Each Raptor has a life span of 40 years.

Unique Features of the F-22 Raptor

Lockheed’s development partners include Boeing and Pratt & Whitney. Pratt & Whitney builds the engine for the fighter. Boeing builds the F-22 airframe.

The Raptor has advanced stealth capability to elude enemy aircraft and missiles. The stealth capability means the Raptor’s radar image is as small as a bumblebee. The sensor system gives the F-22 pilot a 360-degree view of the battlefield around the plane. It also has very advanced sensor, radar and electronics allowing it to locate, track and shoot down enemy aircraft. The two engines have 35,000 pounds of thrust each allowing it to cruise above 50,000 feet at Mach 2 speeds. The engines have afterburners for increased speed and directional nozzles for maneuverability. A sophisticated information and diagnostic system allows for paperless maintenance and faster turnaround.

Capabilities

The F-22 Raptor gives the U.S. air superiority world-wide as there is no other fighter aircraft that can match its capabilities. The F-22 has the ability to fly at over 50,000 feet at Mach 2 speeds and for 1600 nautical miles. Carrying an impressive arsenal of weapons the F-22 can take out enemy aircraft quickly and control the skies.

It can then be converted by changing the weapons carried to perform ground attacks. The Raptor has secure communications capability from one F-22 to another F-22.

A single pilot controls the aircraft as he has a 360 view of the battlefield around the plane and a wide array of sensors tracking other aircraft in the area. This allows the aircraft to know where enemy aircraft are in the area before they can see the Raptor. When carrying ground mode weapons the Raptor has two 1,000 JDAM’s that can be deployed. It can also carry up to eight smaller diameter bombs. Maintenance on the Raptor is paperless and has a predictive maintenance system to repair parts before they break.

Weapons on Board

The F-22 Raptor can be configured for either air combat or ground combat. Weapons carried for air combat:

  • one 20mm M61A-2 six barrel rotary cannon and 480 rounds with ammunition feed system capable of 100 rounds per second
  • six AIM-120C air-to-air missiles
  • two AIM-9 Sidewinder heat seeking missiles

Ground combat weapon configuration:

  • two 1,000 pound JDAM Joint Direct Attack Munitions
  • two AIM-120C air-to-air missiles
  • two AIM-9T Sidewinder missiles

Specifications

  • Engines = two Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 engines with 35,000 pounds maximum thrust (similar engine as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter)
  • Range = 1600 nautical miles using just internal fuel
  • Fuel = carries 18,000 pounds of fuel and can be refueled while in flight. Wing mounted fuel tanks can be added to carry an additional 8,000 pounds of fuel
  • Length = 62.1 feet
  • Height = 16.7 feet
  • Wingspan = 44 feet 6 inches
  • Crew size = one
  • Weight = over 43,000 pounds empty and 83,500 pounds fully loaded
  • Maximum speed = Mach 2
  • Ceiling = over 50,000 feet
  • Approximate cost = $143 million each

Deployed Units

Squadrons of F-22’s are deployed at:

  • three squadrons in Virginia
  • three squadrons in Alaska
  • two squadrons in New Mexico
  • F-22’s are also based in Hawaii and the Middle East
  • training, maintenance and tactical work are performed in Florida, Nevada and California
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Bame, Michael. "F-22 Raptor Fighter Jet." ThoughtCo, Sep. 3, 2017, thoughtco.com/f22-raptor-fighter-jet-1052228. Bame, Michael. (2017, September 3). F-22 Raptor Fighter Jet. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/f22-raptor-fighter-jet-1052228 Bame, Michael. "F-22 Raptor Fighter Jet." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/f22-raptor-fighter-jet-1052228 (accessed November 23, 2017).