An F-22 Raptor soars through the air July 1, 2010, on its way home to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. The first two F-22s, the U.S. Air Force's most advanced fighter jet, were dedicated July 9, 2010, at a ceremony here. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Gustavo Gonzalez)

Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor

The Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor is a fifth-generation single-seat, twin-engine, all-weather stealth tactical fighter aircraft developed for the United States Air Force (USAF). The result of the USAF’s Advanced Tactical Fighter program, the aircraft was designed primarily as an air superiority fighter, but has additional capabilities including ground attack, electronic warfare, and signals intelligence roles. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor and was responsible for the majority of the airframe, weapon systems, and final assembly of the F-22, while program partner Boeing provided 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. After a protracted development and despite operational issues, the USAF considers the F-22 a critical component of its tactical air power, and states that the aircraft is unmatched by any known or projected fighter. The Raptor’s combination of stealth, aerodynamic performance, and situational awareness gives the aircraft unprecedented air combat capabilities.

The high cost of the aircraft, a lack of clear air-to-air missions due to delays in Russian and Chinese fighter programs, a ban on exports, and development of the more versatile and comparatively lower cost F-35 led to the end of F-22 production. A final procurement tally of 187 operational production aircraft was established in 2009 and the last F-22 was delivered to the USAF in 2012.



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. Code named “Senior Sky“, this program 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. The 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 technology demonstrator prototypes, the YF-22 and the YF-23.


Each design team produced two prototype air vehicles, one for each of the two engine options. The Lockheed-led team employed thrust vectoring nozzles on YF-22 for enhanced maneuverability in dogfights. The ATF’s increasing weight and cost drove out certain requirements during development. Side-looking radars were deleted, and the dedicated infra-red search and track (IRST) system was downgraded from multi-color to single color and then deleted as well. However, space and cooling provisions were retained to allow for future addition of these components. The ejection seat requirement was downgraded from a fresh design to the existing McDonnell Douglas ACES II.

After the flight test demonstration and validation of the prototypes, on 23 April 1991, Secretary of the USAF Donald Rice announced the YF-22 as the winner of the ATF competition. The YF-23 design was considered stealthier and faster while the YF-22 was more maneuverable. The aviation press speculated that the YF-22 was also more adaptable to the U.S. Navy’s Navalized Advanced Tactical Fighter (NATF), but by 1992, the Navy had abandoned NATF.

Production and procurement

Prime contractor Lockheed Martin Aeronautics manufactured the majority of the airframe and performed final assembly at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Georgia; program partner Boeing Defense, Space & Security provided additional airframe components as well as avionics integration and training systems. F-22 production was split up over many subcontractors across 46 states to increase Congressional support, though this production split may have contributed to increased costs and delays.
Many capabilities were deferred to post-service upgrades, reducing the initial cost but increasing total program cost.Production supported over 1,000 subcontractors and suppliers and up to 95,000 jobs.

The F-22 had several design changes from the YF-22. The swept-back angle of the leading edge was decreased from 48° to 42°, while the vertical stabilizers were shifted rearward and decreased in area by 20%. To improve pilot visibility, the canopy was moved forward 7 inches (18 cm), and the engine intakes moved rearward 14 inches (36 cm). The shapes of the wing and stabilator trailing edges were refined to improve aerodynamics, strength, and stealth characteristics. Increasing weight during development caused slight reductions in range and aerodynamic performance.

The first F-22, an engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) aircraft named Raptor 4001, was unveiled at Marietta, Georgia, on 9 April 1997, and first flew on 7 September 1997. In 2006, the Raptor’s development team, composed of over 1,000 contractors and the USAF, won the Collier Trophy, American aviation’s most prestigious award. The F-22 was in production for 15 years, at a rate of roughly two per month during peak production.
Raptor 4001
The USAF originally envisioned ordering 750 ATFs at a cost of $26.2 billion, with production beginning in 1994. The 1990 Major Aircraft Review led by Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney reduced this to 648 aircraft beginning in 1996. By 1997, funding instability had further cut the total to 339, which was again reduced to 277 F-22s by 2003. In 2004, the Department of Defense (DoD) further reduced this to 183 operational aircraft, despite the USAF’s preference for 381. In 2006, a multi-year procurement plan was implemented to save $15 billion but raise each aircraft’s cost. That year the program’s total cost was projected to be $62 billion for 183 F-22s distributed to seven combat squadrons. In 2007, Lockheed Martin received a $7.3 billion contract to increase the order to 183 production F-22s and extend manufacturing through 2011.

In April 2006, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) assessed the F-22’s cost to be $361 million per aircraft, with $28 billion invested in development and testing; the Unit Procurement Cost was estimated at $178 million in 2006, based on a production run of 181 aircraft. 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 in 2009. The GAO stated the estimated cost was $412 million per aircraft in 2012.

Ban on exports

The F-22 cannot be exported under American federal law to protect the stealth technology and other high-tech features. Customers for U.S. fighters are acquiring earlier designs such as the F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon or the newer F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, which contains technology from the F-22 but was designed to be cheaper, more flexible, and available for export. In September 2006, Congress upheld the ban on foreign F-22 sales. Despite the ban, 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 effect of F-22 export sales on U.S. aerospace industry.

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.

Some Australian politicians and defense commentators proposed that Australia should attempt to purchase F-22s instead of the planned F-35s, citing the F-22’s known capabilities and F-35’s delays and developmental uncertainties. However, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) determined that the F-22 was unable to perform the F-35’s strike and close air support roles. The Japanese government also showed interest in the F-22 for its Replacement-Fighter program. The Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) would reportedly require fewer fighters for its mission if it obtained the F-22, thus reducing engineering and staffing costs. However, in 2009 it was reported that acquiring the F-22 would require increases to the defense budget beyond the historical 1 percent of GDP. With the end of F-22 production, Japan chose the F-35 in December 2011. Israel also expressed interest, but eventually chose the F-35 because of the F-22’s price and unavailability.

Production termination

Throughout the 2000s, the need for F-22s was debated due to rising costs and the lack of relevant adversaries. In 2006, Comptroller General of the United States David Walker found that “the DoD has not demonstrated the need” for more investment in the F-22, and further opposition to the program was expressed by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon R. England, Senator John McCain, and Chairman of U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services Senator John Warner. The F-22 program lost influential supporters in 2008 after resignation of Secretary of the USAF Michael Wynne and General T. Michael Moseley. Nevertheless, in 2008, Congress passed a defense spending bill funding the F-22’s continued production and the Pentagon released $50 million of the $140 million for four additional aircraft, raising the total orders for production aircraft to 187 and leaving the program in the hands of the next administration.

In November 2008, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates stated that the Raptor was not relevant in post-Cold War conflicts such as in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in April 2009, under the new Obama Administration, he called for ending F-22 production in fiscal year (FY) 2011, leaving the USAF with 187 production aircraft. In July, General James Cartwright, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated to the Senate Committee on Armed Services his reasons for supporting termination of F-22 production. They included shifting resources to the multirole F-35 to allow proliferation of fifth-generation fighters for three service branches and preserving the F/A-18 production line to maintain the military’s electronic warfare (EW) capabilities in the Boeing EA-18G Growler.

See details of F35: HERE

1145207739Multirole F-35

See details of EA-18G Growler: HERE

2227951Boeing EA-18G Growler

Issues with the F-22’s reliability and availability also raised concerns. After President Obama threatened to veto further production, the Senate voted in July 2009 in favor of ending production and the House subsequently agreed to abide by the 187 production aircraft cap. Gates stated that the decision was taken in light of the F-35’s capabilities, and in 2010, he set the F-22 requirement to 187 aircraft by lowering the number of major regional conflict preparations from two to one.

In 2010, USAF initiated a study to determine the costs of retaining F-22 tooling for a future Service Life Extension Program (SLEP). A RAND Corporation paper from this study estimated that restarting production and building an additional 75 F-22s would cost $17 billion, resulting in $227 million per aircraft or 54 million higher than the flyaway cost. Lockheed Martin stated that restarting the production line itself would cost about $200 million. Production tooling will be documented in illustrated electronic manuals stored at the Sierra Army Depot. Retained tooling will produce additional components; due to the limited production run there are no reserve aircraft, leading to considerable care during maintenance. Later attempts to retrieve this tooling found that the containers were empty. 

F-22 with drop tanks

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.

Russian and Chinese fighter developments have fueled concern, and in 2009, General John Corley, head of Air Combat Command, stated that a fleet of 187 F-22s would be inadequate, but Secretary Gates dismissed this concern.

See details of Chinese J-31: HERE

Chinese stealth J-31

In 2011, Gates explained that Chinese fifth-generation fighter developments had been accounted for when the number of F-22s was set, and that the U.S. would have a considerable advantage in stealth aircraft in 2025, even with F-35 delays. In December 2011, the 195th and final F-22 was completed out of 8 test and 187 operational aircraft produced, the aircraft was delivered to the USAF on 2 May 2012.


The first combat-capable Block 3.0 aircraft first flew in 2001. Increment 2, the first F-22 upgrade program, was implemented in 2005 and enables the aircraft to employ Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM).

An F-22A Raptor of USAF 27th Fighter Squadron, 1st Fighter Wing, Langley, Virginia releases a GBU-32 JDAM bomb (Photo Source: USAF via Air Power Australia)July 17, 2008 (by SrA Julius Delos Reyes) – On July 11, the 411th Flight Test Squadron passed a milestone as an F-22 Raptor travelling at supersonic speed dropped a GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb for the first time. (

Increment 3.1 provides improved ground-attack capability through synthetic aperture radar mapping and radio emitter direction finding, electronic attack and the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb (SDB); testing began in 2009 and the first upgraded aircraft was delivered in 2012. Increment 3.2 is a two-part upgrade process; 3.2A focuses on electronic warfare, communications and identification, while 3.2B will allow the F-22 to fully exploit the AIM-9X and AIM-120D missiles.

Second EMD prototype F-22A 91-4002 fires an AIM-9 Sidewinder. (photo, Lockheed Martin)Internal weapon bay carriage of the JDAM and AMRAAM (USAF Photo).

The subsequent Increment 3.3 may include the adoption of an open avionics platform and air traffic control updates. Upgrades due in 2015 will allow the F-22 to employ the AIM-9X and have full Link 16 reception and transmission capability, and an upgrade scheduled in 2018 will integrate the AIM-120D into the weapons suite. The F-22 fleet is planned to have 36 Block 20 training and 149 Block 30/35 combat aircraft by 2016.

The first guided launch of the AIM-9X from an F-22 Raptor took place on 26 February Source: David Henry/Lockheed MartinThis F-22A Raptor from the 27th FS at Langley AFB fires an AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile at an aerial target drone over the Gulf of Mexico during a Combat Archer mission February 14. 2006. This missile is one of the first fired from an F-22A
Scorpion HMCSScorpion HMCS from what I understand this is still not yet in operation

To enable two-way communication with other platforms, the F-22 can use the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) as a gateway. The originally planned MADL integration was cut due to the lack of system maturity. Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman are currently competing to connect the F-22 with other platforms while maintaining stealth. (see below)

cvpuparuuqug1apnobkqF-15 fitted with Talon HATE pod for communication with F-22

This will allow American F-15C/D and other so-called “legacy” fighters, allied aircraft, ships, and ground and command-and-control assets that use MIDS/JTIDS Link 16 data links common to NATO countries to see what the F-22 sees. It does this by receiving and translating the F-22’s proprietary and stealthy Intra-flight data link (FIDL) transmissions into data the MIDS/Link 16 data link terminals can display. (See details HERE)

Other upgrades being developed include infra-red search and track functionality for the AN/AAR-56 Missile Launch Detector (MLD) and integration of a helmet-mounted cuing system (HMCS) to enable off-boresight missile launches by 2020. Until the F-22 gains a helmet mounted system it will use the AIM-9X’s helmetless high off-boresight (HHOBS) capabilities. In March 2010, the USAF accelerated software portions of 3.2 to be completed in FY 2013.

In January 2011, the USAF opened the Raptor enhancement, development and integration (REDI) contract to bidders, with a $16 billion budget. In November 2011, Lockheed Martin’s upgrade contract ceiling was raised to $7.4 billion. Nearly $2 billion was allocated for structural repairs and to achieve fleet availability rate of 70.6% by 2015. However, only 63% was achieved. Some F-35 technology, such as more durable stealth coatings, have been applied to the F-22. By 2012, the update schedule had slipped seven years due to instability in requirements and funding. In 2014 the USAF moved to cut upgrade funding.

The F-22 is currently being upgraded with a backup oxygen system, software upgrades and oxygen sensors to address the frequent oxygen deprivation issues and normalize operations. 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. In April 2014 the USAF stated in Congressional testimony that installation of automatic backup oxygen systems on the F-22 fleet would be completed within twelve months.

The F-22 was designed for a lifespan of 30 years and 8,000 flight hours, with a $100 million “structures retrofit program”. Investigations are being made for upgrades to extend their useful lives further. In the long term, the F-22 is expected to be superseded by a sixth-generation jet fighter to be fielded in the 2030s.



The F-22 Raptor is a fifth-generation fighter that is considered fourth generation in stealth aircraft technology by the USAF. It is the first operational aircraft to combine supercruise, supermaneuverability, stealth, and sensor fusion in a single weapons platform. The Raptor has clipped delta wings with a reverse sweep on the rear, four empennage surfaces, and a retractable tricycle landing gear. Flight control surfaces include leading and trailing-edge flaps, ailerons, rudders on the canted vertical stabilizers, and all-moving horizontal tails; these surfaces also serve as speed brakes.
The aircraft’s dual Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 afterburning  turbofan engines are closely spaced and incorporate pitch-axis thrust vectoring nozzles with a range of ±20 degrees; each engine has maximum thrust in the 35,000 lbf (156 kN) class. The F-22’s thrust to weight ratio in typical combat configuration is nearly at unity in maximum military power and 1.25 in full afterburner. Maximum speed without external stores is estimated to be Mach 1.82 during supercruise and greater than Mach 2 with afterburners.The F-22 is among only a few aircraft that can supercruise, or sustain supersonic flight without using fuel-inefficient afterburners; it can intercept targets which subsonic aircraft would lack the speed to pursue and an afterburner-dependent aircraft would lack the fuel to reach. The Raptor’s high operating altitude is also a significant tactical advantage over prior fighters. The use of internal weapons bays permits the aircraft to maintain comparatively higher performance over most other combat-configured fighters due to a lack of aerodynamic drag from external stores. The F-22’s structure contains extensive amounts of high-strength materials to withstand stress and heat of sustained supersonic flight. Respectively, titanium alloys and composites comprise 39% and 24% of the aircraft’s structural weight.
The F-22 is highly maneuverable at both supersonic and subsonic speeds. Computerized flight control system and full authority digital engine control (FADEC) make the aircraft highly departure resistant and controllable at aggressive pilot inputs.

The Raptor’s relaxed stability and powerful thrust vectoring powerplants enable the aircraft to turn tightly and perform very high alpha (angle of attack) maneuvers such as the Herbst maneuver (J-turn) and Pugachev’s Cobra. The aircraft is also capable of maintaining over 60° alpha while having some roll control.

Comparison of control surfaces of F-22 and T-50

The Raptor’s aerodynamic performance, sensor fusion, and stealth work together for increased effectiveness. Altitude, speed, and advanced active and passive sensors allow the aircraft to spot targets at considerable ranges and increase weapons range; altitude and speed also complement stealth’s ability to increase the aircraft’s survivability against ground defenses such as surface-to-air missiles.


Key avionics include BAE Systems EI&S AN/ALR-94 radar warning receiver (RWR), Lockheed Martin AN/AAR-56 infrared and ultraviolet Missile Launch Detector (MLD) and Northrop Grumman AN/APG-77 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar. The MLD features six sensors to provide full spherical infrared coverage.

Missile Launch Detector (MLD)Lockheed Martin AN/AAR-56 infrared and ultraviolet Missile Launch Detector (MLD) (See 2 pics below)

The RWR is a passive radar detector with 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, and can cue radar emissions to be confined to a narrow beam (down to 2° by 2° in azimuth and elevation) to increase stealth.

Depending on the detected threat, the defensive systems can prompt the pilot to release countermeasures such as flares or chaff. According to Bill Sweetman, experts had said the ALR-94 can be used as a passive detection system capable of searching targets and providing enough information for a radar lock on.

Stealth changes the tactical environment in fundamental ways. The first result of stealth is that the opponent cannot see the stealthy fighter on radar, or detect its radar on a warning receiver. Therefore, the stealthy fighter can locate, identify and stalk its opponent without being detected. A stealthy fighter can therefore exploit von Richtoven’s fundamental axiom, approach its victim undetected and shoot from six o’clock before the opposing fighter even knows it is there.

To fully exploit its technological advantage, the stealthy fighter will therefore need to adopt hit-and-run ambush tactics and avoid being drawn into a “turn-and-burn” knife-fight-in-a-phone-booth. At ranges inside 3 miles, a stealthy fighter loses its basic advantage of undetectability, as it may be tracked visually, and an opposing fighter’s radar and missiles can detect it and track it.

Therefore a stealthy fighter will maximise its survivability and lethality by staying outside its opponent’s visual engagement envelope, positioning itself for a shot and then shooting a fire-and-forget missile.

The AN/APG-77 AESA radar
The AN/APG-77 radar features a low-observable, active-aperture, electronically scanned array that can track multiple targets under any weather conditions. Radar emissions can also be focused to overload enemy sensors as an electronic-attack capability. The radar changes frequencies more than 1,000 times per second to lower interception probability and 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. Radar information is processed by two Raytheon Common Integrated Processor (CIP)s, each capable of processing up to 10.5 billion instructions per second. In a process known as sensor fusion, data from the radar, other sensors, and external systems is filtered and combined by the CIP into a common view, reducing pilot workload. However, upgrading the aircraft’s avionics was reportedly very challenging due to their highly integrated nature.
The F-22’s ability to operate close to the battlefield gives the aircraft threat detection and identification capability comparative with the RC-135 Rivet Joint, and the ability to function as a “mini-AWACS”, though the radar is less powerful than those of dedicated platforms. The F-22 can designate targets for allies, and determine whether two friendly aircraft are targeting the same aircraft. This radar system can sometimes identify targets “many times quicker than the AWACS”. The IEEE 1394B bus developed for the F-22 was derived from the commercial IEEE 1394 “FireWire” bus system. In 2007, the F-22’s radar was tested as a wireless data transceiver, transmitting data at 548 megabits per second and receiving at gigabit speed, far faster than the Link 16 system.

The F-22’s software has some 1.7 million lines of code, the majority involving processing radar data. 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. Cyberattacks on subcontractors have reportedly raised doubts about the security of the F-22’s systems and combat-effectiveness. In 2009, former Navy Secretary John Lehman considered the F-22 to be safe from cyberattack, citing the age of its IBM software.


Cockpit of the F-22, showing instruments, head up display and throttle top (lower left)
The F-22 has a glass cockpit with all-digital flight instruments. 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.
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, but this was judged to be too technically risky and was abandoned. 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.
The F-22 has integrated radio functionality, the signal processing systems are virtualized rather than as a separate hardware module. There have been several reports on the F-22’s inability to communicate with other aircraft, and funding cuts have affected the integration of the Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL). Voice communication is possible, but not data transfer.
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 and also serve as the stand-by flight instrumentation group and fuel quantity indicator. 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. 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.

ACES II (Advanced Concept Ejection Seat)
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. The F-22 has a complex life support system, which includes the on-board oxygen generation system (OBOGS), protective pilot garments, and a breathing regulator/anti-g (BRAG) valve controlling flow and pressure to the pilot’s mask and garments.

F-22 Raptor pilots wear a new anti-g suit which incorporates an upper body counterpressure garmet along with the traditional lower body “speed jeans” G suit

The pilot garments were developed under the Advanced Technology Anti-G Suit (ATAGS) project and are to protect against chemical/biological hazards and cold-water immersion, counter g-forces and low pressure at high altitudes, and provide thermal relief. Suspicions regarding the performance of the OBOGS and life support equipment have been raised by several mishaps, including a fatal crash.


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. The main bay can accommodate six LAU-142/A launchers for beyond-visual-range missiles and each side bay has an LAU-141/A launcher for short-range missiles.
The main bay can accommodate six LAU-142/A launchers for beyond-visual-range missiles  (See below how it works)
Four of the launchers in the main bay can be replaced with two bomb racks that can each carry one 1,000 lb (450 kg) or four 250 lb (110 kg) bombs. Carrying armaments internally maintains the aircraft’s stealth and minimizes additional drag. Missile launches require the bay doors to be open for less than a second, during which hydraulic arms push missiles clear of the aircraft; this is to reduce vulnerability to detection and to deploy missiles during high speed flight.

Each side bay has an LAU-141/A launcher for short-range missiles (See below for details)

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. Internal air-to-surface ordnance is limited to 2,000 lb.

1e4bf2dfd71bfdc370d8ea96775526b3An internally mounted M61A2 Vulcan 20 mm cannon is embedded in the right wing

An internally mounted M61A2 Vulcan 20 mm cannon is embedded in the right wing root with the muzzle covered by a retractable door to maintain stealth. The radar projection of the cannon fire’s path is displayed on the pilot’s head-up display.

F-22 with external weapons pylonsF-22 with external weapons pylons @ausairpower.netf-22_0774a

The F-22’s high cruise speed and altitude increase the effective ranges of its munitions, it has 50% greater employment range for the AIM-120 AMRAAM than prior platforms, and range will be further extended with the introduction of the AIM-120D. While specifics are classified, it is expected that JDAMs employed by F-22s will have twice or more the effective range of legacy platforms. In testing, an F-22 dropped a GBU-32 JDAM from 50,000 feet (15,000 m) while cruising at Mach 1.5, striking a moving target 24 miles (39 km) away.


While the F-22 typically carries weapons internally, the wings include four hardpoints, each rated to handle 5,000 lb (2,300 kg). Each hardpoint can accommodate a pylon that can carry a detachable 600 gallon external fuel tank or a launcher holding two air-to-air missiles; the two inboard hardpoints are “plumbed” for external fuel tanks. The use of external stores degrades the aircraft’s stealth and kinematic performance; after releasing stores the external attachments can be jettisoned to restore those characteristics. A stealthy ordnance pod and pylon was being developed to carry additional weapons in the mid-2000s.


The F-22 was designed to be highly difficult to detect and track by radar. Measures to reduce radar cross-section include airframe shaping such as alignment of edges, fixed-geometry serpentine inlets that prevent line-of-sight of the engine faces from any exterior view, use of radar-absorbent material (RAM), and attention to detail such as hinges and pilot helmets that could provide a radar return.
The F-22 was also designed to have decreased radio emissions, infrared signature and acoustic signature as well as reduced visibility to the naked eye. The aircraft’s flat thrust vectoring nozzle reduces infrared emissions to mitigate the threat of infrared homing (“heat seeking”) surface-to-air or air-to-air missiles. Additional measures to reduce the infrared signature include special paint and active cooling of leading edges to manage the heat buildup from supersonic flight.
Compared to previous stealth designs like the F-117, the F-22 is less reliant on RAM, which are maintenance-intensive and susceptible to adverse weather conditions. Unlike the B-2, which requires climate-controlled hangars, the F-22 can undergo repairs on the flight line or in a normal hangar. The F-22 features a Signature Assessment System which delivers warnings when the radar signature is degraded and necessitates repair. The F-22’s exact radar cross-section (RCS) is classified; however, in 2009 Lockheed Martin released information indicating it has an RCS (from certain angles) of −40 dBsm – equivalent to the radar reflection of a “steel marble”. Effectively maintaining the stealth features can decrease the F-22’s mission capable rate to 62–70%.
Port tail boom rear view @aircraftresourcecenter.comEngine exhaust @aircraftresourcecenter.comPort tail boom @aircraftresourcecenter.com2014_f22_86Arrestor hook. If you look at the fly-by picture, you won’t see the hook. It’s faired in when it’s retracted (see below). @eaa42.orgDetails of arrestor hook housing

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 radar observability. Furthermore, the F-22’s stealth contouring and radar absorbent materials are chiefly effective against high-frequency radars, usually found on other aircraft. The effects of Rayleigh scattering and resonance mean that low-frequency radars such as weather radars and early-warning radars are more likely to detect the F-22 due to its physical size. However, such radars are also conspicuous, susceptible to clutter, and have low precision. Additionally, while faint or fleeting radar contacts make defenders aware that a stealth aircraft is present, reliably vectoring interception to attack the aircraft is much more challenging. According to the USAF an F-22 surprised an Iranian F-4 Phantom II that was attempting to intercept an American UAV, despite Iran’s claim of having military VHF radar coverage over the Persian Gulf.

Thrust Vectoring – uses the powerful Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 engines with built-in single dimension thrust vectoring that enables the Raptor to make tight maneuvers
From my research and readings it seems the Russians and Chinese are extensively deploying L-band radars :-
Very little attention was paid to Tikhomirov NIIP’s new L-band AESA design, developed for embedding in the inboard leading edge flaps of the T-10 / Su-27/30/35 Flanker fighter family. This is unfortunate, but also not surprising, since Tikhomirov NIIP have disclosed very little about the intended uses of this radar, and its intended performance and capabilities. The development of this radar has been discussed publicly in the Russian technical press for some time now, but it has attracted very little attention in the global defence debate.

The L-band, which in Russian usage typically refers to frequencies between 1.0 GHz and 2.0 GHz, with wavelengths between 0.3 metres and 0.15 metres, is heavily populated with common services as well as being a favoured band for long range search radars.

Services operating in the L-band include JTIDS/MIDS/Link-16, military IFF and civil SSR transponders, Navstar GPS, Galileo and Glonass satellite navigation, and a range of guided weapons datalinks. The band is also used for some satellite communications uplinks and downlinks. The NG MESA active array AEW&C/AWACS radar developed for the E-737 / Wedgetail, the Israeli Elta EL/M-2075 Phalcon AESA radar used in the Indian A-50I AEW&C/AWACS and the EL/W-2085 used in the G550 hosted AEW&C aircraft, as well as the Chinese KJ-2000 and KJ-200 AEW&C/AWACS radars, all operate in the L-band. Russia’s 59N6 Protivnik GE series and 67N6 Gamma DE AESA series long range mobile search radars also operate in the L-band.

Why has the L-band been so popular? With operating wavelengths of the order of 6 to 12 inches, it permits good long range search performance with modestly sized antennas, while providing excellent weather penetration, and reasonably well behaved ground clutter environments compared to shorter wavelength bands. In airborne radar applications, L-band offers an additional economy, as a single L-band design can combine conventional primary radar functions with secondary IFF/SSR functions, thus saving considerable antenna and transmitter/receiver hardware weight, cooling and volume. The latter are alone sufficient reasons to employ this otherwise heavily congested band.

Another less frequently discussed consideration is that L-band frequencies typically sit below the design operating frequencies of stealth shaping features in many fighter aircraft and UAV designs. Shaping features such as engine inlet edges, exhaust nozzles, and other details become ineffective at controlled scattering once their size is comparable to that of the impinging radar waves. This problem is exacerbated by the skin effect in resistive and magnetic materials, which at these wavelengths often results in penetration depths incompatible with thin coatings or shallow

Chinese KJ-2000 and KJ-200 AEW&C/AWACS radars, all operate in the L-band

See details of Chinese KJ-2000 AWACS: HERE

Chinese KJ-2000 AWACS


  • YF-22A – pre-production technology demonstrator for ATF demonstration/validation phase; two were built.
  • F-22A – single-seat production version, was designated F/A-22A in early 2000s.
  • F-22B – planned two-seat variant, but was canceled in 1996 to save development costs.
  • Naval F-22 variant – a carrier-borne variant of the F-22 with variable-sweep wings for the U.S. Navy’s Navy Advanced Tactical Fighter (NATF) program to replace the F-14 Tomcat. Program was canceled in 1993. Former SoAF Donald Rice has called the possibility of the naval variant the deciding factor for his choice of the YF-22 over the YF-23.


FB-22 “Strike Raptor”

The FB-22 was a proposed medium-range bomber for the USAF. 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. 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.


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. 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.


The U.S. Air Force is the only operator of the F-22. It ordered 8 test and 187 operational production aircraft. In November 2012, it had 184 production aircraft in inventory.

Air Combat Command

27th Fighter Squadron – The first combat F-22 squadron. Began conversion in December 2005.
94th Fighter Squadron
422d Test and Evaluation Squadron(Nellis AFB, Nevada)
433d Weapons Squadron
43d Fighter Squadron – The first squadron to operate the F-22 and continues to serve as the Formal Training Unit. Known as the “Hornets”, the 43d was re-activated at Tyndall in 2002.
95th Fighter Squadron

Air Force Materiel Command

411th Flight Test Squadron – Conducted competition between YF-22 and YF-23 from 1989 to 1991. Continues to conduct flight test on F-22 armaments and upgrades.

Pacific Air Forces

90th Fighter Squadron
525th Fighter Squadron
19th Fighter Squadron – Active Associate squadron to the 199th Fighter Squadron (Hawaii Air National Guard).

Air National Guard

149th Fighter Squadron, Virginia Air National Guard – Associate ANG squadron to the 1st Fighter Wing (Air Combat Command).
199th Fighter Squadron, Hawaii Air National Guard

Air Force Reserve Command

301st Fighter Squadron – Associate AFRC squadron to the 325th Fighter Wing (Air Combat Command).
302d Fighter Squadron – Associate AFRC squadron to the 3d Wing (Pacific Air Forces).

Specifications (F-22A)

File:F22 Raptor info.jpgUSAF poster of key F-22 features and armament
Data from USAF, F-22 Raptor Team web site,manufacturers’ data, Aviation Week, and Journal of Electronic Defense

General characteristics





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