Type Stealth Air Superiority Fighter
The F-22 Raptor is a stealth fighter aircraft. It was originally envisioned as an air superiority fighter for use against the air force of the Soviet Union, but is equipped for ground attack, electronic attack and signals intelligence roles as well. Long in development, the aircraft was also known as the prototype YF-22 and as the F/A-22 for three years before formally entering United States Air Force service in December 2005 as the F-22A. Lockheed Martin’s Aeronautics division is the prime contractor and is responsible for the majority of the airframe, weapon systems and final assembly of the F-22. Boeing’s Integrated Defense Systems division provides the wings, aft fuselage and avionics integration.
Intended to be the leading American advanced tactical fighter in the early part of the 21st century, the Raptor is the world’s most expensive fighter to date costing about US$120 million per unit, or US$361 million per unit when development costs are added. Part of the reason for the decrease in the requirement is that the F-35 Lightning II uses much of the technology used on the F-22, but at a much more affordable price. To a large extent the cost of these technologies is only lower for the F-35 because they have already been developed for the F-22. Had the F-22 not been developed, the costs of these technologies for the F-35 would have been significantly higher.
YF-22 ‘Lightning II’
The YF-22 was a developmental aircraft that led to the to F-22; however, there are significant differences between the YF-22 and the F-22. Relocation of cockpit, structural changes, and many other smaller changes exist between the two types (see comparison image). The two are sometimes confused in pictures, often at angles where it is difficult see certain features. For example, there are some F-22 with pitot booms which some think are only found on the YF-22 (such as pictured at end of article). The YF-22 was originally given the unofficial name “Lightning II” by Lockheed, which persisted until the mid-1990s. For a short while, the plane was also dubbed “Rapier”. The F-35 later received the Lightning II name on 7 July 2006.
The prototype YF-22 won a fly-off competition against the Northrop/McDonnell-Douglas YF-23 for the Advanced Tactical Fighter contract. In April 1992, during flight testing after contract award, the first YF-22A prototype crashed while landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California. The test pilot, Tom Morgenfeld, was not injured and the cause of the crash was found to be a flight control software error that allowed and created a pilot-induced oscillation.
The 27th Fighter Squadron at Langley Air Force Base is the first squadron to receive the F-22A.
The YF-22 was renamed to F-22 and formally became the “Raptor” when the first production-representative plane was unveiled on 9 April 1997 at Lockheed-Georgia Co., Marietta, Georgia. First flight occurred on 7 September 1997.
F-22 to F/A-22 to F-22 again
In September 2002, Air Force leaders changed the Raptor’s designation to F/A-22. The new designation, which mimicked that of the Navy’s F/A-18 Hornet, was intended to highlight plans to give the Raptor a ground-attack capability amid intense debate over the relevance of the expensive air-superiority jet. This was later changed back to simply F-22 on December 12, 2005. On December 15, 2005, the F-22A entered service.
The first production F-22 was delivered to Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, on 14 January 2003. F-22 Dedicated Initial Operational Test and Evaluation occurred on 27 October 2004. As of late 2004, 51 Raptors were in service, with 22 more ordered under fiscal year 2004 funding. The first crash of a production F-22 occurred at Nellis Air Force Base on 20 December 2004, during takeoff. The pilot ejected safely moments before impact. 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. The technical data for the aircraft has been amended to avoid this problem in the future. USAF officials were planning to rebuild the remains into a new jet.
F-22 Raptor displaying its F119 engines
Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 turbofans with afterburners incorporate thrust vectoring. Thrust vectoring is in the pitch axis only, with a range of