Elusive F22 Raptor

In Aviationby Patrick

The F-22 Raptor is the Air Force’s newest fighter aircraft. Its combination of stealth, super cruise, maneuverability, and integrated avionics, coupled with improved support ability, represents an exponential leap in war fighting capabilities. The Raptor performs both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions allowing full realization of operational concepts vital to the 21st century Air Force.

The F-22, a critical component of the Global Strike Task Force, is designed to project air dominance, rapidly and at great distances and defeat threats attempting to deny access to our nation’s Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps. The F-22 cannot be matched by any known or projected fighter aircraft. The title of the post comes from the fact that this tactical aircraft only makes about 23 appearances nationwide at airshows during the season. I have been wanting to see this fighters capabilities at an airshow for some time and most of the airshows are not close by adding cost to the equation for travel.

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Seeing one in person did not disappoint. This is an impressive fighter with capabilities that no other aircraft has. Here are the specs for this aircraft.

Primary function: air dominance, multi-role fighter
Contractor: Lockheed-Martin, Boeing
Power plant: two Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 turbofan engines with afterburners and two-dimensional thrust vectoring nozzles.
Thrust: 35,000-pound class (each engine)
Wingspan: 44 feet, 6 inches (13.6 meters)
Length: 62 feet, 1 inch (18.9 meters)
Height: 16 feet, 8 inches (5.1 meters)
Weight: 43,340 pounds (19,700 kilograms)
Maximum takeoff weight: 83,500 pounds (38,000 kilograms)
Fuel capacity: internal: 18,000 pounds (8,200 kilograms); with 2 external wing fuel tanks: 26,000 pounds (11,900 kilograms)
Payload: same as armament air-to-air or air-to-ground loadouts; with or without two external wing fuel tanks.
Speed: mach two class with supercruise capability
Range: more than 1,850 miles ferry range with two external wing fuel tanks (1,600 nautical miles)
Ceiling: above 50,000 feet (15 kilometers)
Armament: one M61A2 20-millimeter cannon with 480 rounds, internal side weapon bays carriage of two AIM-9 infrared (heat seeking) air-to-air missiles and internal main weapon bays carriage of six AIM-120 radar-guided air-to-air missiles (air-to-air loadout) or two 1,000-pound GBU-32 JDAMs and two AIM-120 radar-guided air-to-air missiles (air-to-ground loadout)
Crew: one
Unit cost: $143 million
Initial operating capability: December 2005
Inventory: total force, 183

The F-22 engines produce more thrust than any current fighter engine. The combination of sleek aerodynamic design and increased thrust allows the F-22 to cruise at supersonic airspeeds (greater than 1.5 Mach) without using afterburner — a characteristic known as super cruise. Super cruise greatly expands the F-22 ‘s operating envelope in both speed and range over current fighters, which must use fuel-consuming afterburner to operate at supersonic speeds.

The sophisticated F-22 aerodesign, advanced flight controls, thrust vectoring, and high thrust-to-weight ratio provide the capability to outmaneuver all current and projected aircraft. The F-22 design has been extensively tested and refined aerodynamically. Love seeing the contrails on this during the tight turns. Hopefully one will becoming to an airshow near you. Worth the price of admission.

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