The F-22A Raptor is an advanced tactical fighter aircraft developed for the US Air Force (USAF). It entered service with the USAF in December 2005 to replace the F-15, with emphasis on agility, stealth and range.
Developed at Aeronautical Systems Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, the F-22A Raptor is a supersonic, dual-engine fighter jet, which has won the 2006 Robert J Collier Trophy from the American National Aeronautic Association (NAA).
In April 2009, production of the F-22 fighter jet was officially terminated when Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced that the Pentagon would end the Lockheed-run F-22 programme and increase the production of the F-35 joint strike fighter. The last produced F-22 was delivered in 2012 and 183 F-22 aircraft are currently in service with the USAF.
Lockheed Martin received a $7bn five-year contract to maintain the USAF fleet of F-22 Raptor stealth fighters, in December 2019.
F-22A Raptor development
By 1990 Lockheed Martin, teamed with Boeing and General Dynamics, had built and flown the demonstration prototype aircraft, designated YF-22. The first F-22 fighter aircraft was unveiled in April 1997 and was given the name Raptor.
In September 2002, the USAF decided to redesignate the aircraft F/A-22 to reflect its multi-mission capability in ground attack as well as air-to-air roles. The aircraft’s designation was changed again to F-22A when it achieved initial operating capability (IOC) in December 2005.
The decision to proceed to low-rate initial production (LRIP) was authorised in August 2001 and Lockheed Martin delivered 49 aircraft under LRIP contracts.
Initial operational test and evaluation began in April 2004 and was successfully completed in February 2005. The F-22 achieved full operational capability in December 2007.
A further 60 Raptors were ordered in July 2007, bringing the total ordered to 183, with production to 2011. In November 2008, $40m of funding for four additional raptors was approved by the Pentagon, increasing the total ordered jets to 187, with the buying scheduled in the second half of the fiscal year 2009.
In May 2019, the USAF’s F-22 fleet received an upgrade to modernise the application development process.
F-22 deployment and bases
The first operational wing of F-22A Raptors was Langley AFB in Virginia with a fleet of 40 aircraft. Elmendorff AFB, Alaska, became the second in August 2007 and Holloman AFB, New Mexico the third in June 2008. Operational Raptors are also based at Hickam AFB Hawaii.
In February 2007, 12 F-22 aircraft began the first overseas deployment of the fighter at Kadena Air Base in Japan. The aircraft returned in May 2007. In January 2009, 12 F-22 jets were deployed at the Kadena Air Base from Langley Air Force Base in Japan for three months as a part of the 27th Fighter Squadron.
During flight tests, the F-22A has demonstrated the ability to ‘supercruise’, flying at sustained speeds of over Mach 1.5 without the use of afterburner.
Lockheed Martin has put forward proposals for a fighter-bomber version of the F-22, the FB-22, which will have larger delta wings, longer range and the ability to carry an external weapons payload of 4,500kg and total weapons payload of 15,000kg.
F-22 Raptor design and features
The aircraft has a length of 18.9m, height of 5.1m and wingspan of 13.6m. It has a range of more than 1,600nm.
The F-22 construction is 39% titanium, 24% composite, 16% aluminium and 1% thermoplastic by weight. Titanium is used for its high strength-to-weight ratio in critical stress areas, including some of the bulkheads, and also for its heat-resistant qualities in the hot sections of the aircraft.
Carbon-fibre composites have been used for the fuselage frame, the doors, intermediate spars on the wings, and for the honeycomb sandwich construction skin panels.
The cockpit is fitted with hands-on throttle and stick control (HOTAS). The cockpit has six color liquid crystal displays. The Kaiser Electronics projection primary multifunction display provides a plan view of the air and ground tactical situation including threat identity, threat priority and tracking information.
Two displays provide communication, navigation, identification and flight information. Three secondary displays show air and ground threats, stores management and air threat information.
A BAE Systems head-up display (HUD) shows target status, weapon status, weapon envelopes and shoot cues. A video camera records data on the HUD for post-mission analysis.
BAE Systems’ Digital Light Engine Technology to Illuminate F-22 Head-up Display: Details
Digital Light Engine Head-Up Display (HUD)
BAE Systems has been a leader in HUD development and production for more than 50 years, a position gained through continuous investment in technology and innovation. BAE Systems:
- has produced over 14,000 head-up displays
- that are in service on over 50 different aircraft types
- and for more than 50 countries
- Better situational awareness for the military aviator
- Allows some freedom of head movement, reducing pilot fatigue
- Backward compatible to any existing aircraft interface which offers minimal impact on display performance
Designed for mission effectiveness, the DLE HUD has addressed obsolescence issues by:
- removing the conventional cathode ray tube (CRT) technology powering the display and
- introducing a more advanced digital display solution
With more military aircraft upgrade advancements to digital display solutions, the DLE HUD offers easy integration into existing HUD space. Offering more than 20 percent life cycle cost reduction and at least four times greater Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF), the DLE HUD is a future proof investment in the advanced display technology segment.
Typical performance specification
|Specification Display Source||Analogue Symbol Generator, EU, AEU, MLU, IMDC|
|Display Surface Resolution||1280 x 1024 pixels|
|Field of View||25° x 22°|
|Display Luminance||0 to > 2000 ftL|
|Luminance Uniformity||< 20% within a 10° diameter area|
|< 30% over the TFoV|
|Secondary Images||< 2% of primary|
|Display Contrast||> 1.2:1 against an ambient of 10,000 ftL|
|> 1200:1 Sequential|
|Outside World Transmission||> 75%|
|Image Positional Accuracy||< 0.8mR error within 5° of CFoV < 1mR elsewhere within FoV|
|Mass||< 20.1 Kilograms (ballast may be applied to maintain C of G position if required)|
|Operating Temperature||-40°C to +75°C|
|Storage Temperature||-40°C to +85°C|
|Operating Altitude||0 to 70,000 ft|
|Dimensions||Form Fit Function|
Thales Scorpion Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems (HMCS)
- This is the first helmet mounted display that features colour symbology and video imaging for both daytime and nighttime missions.
- Thales will be responsible for the viability study, testing phase, integration with test aircraft, qualification support and integration in the fleet.
Scorpion® is a ‘force multiplier’ system offering full colour symbology (navigation, intelligence, combat, etc.) for both nighttime and daytime missions, in addition to target cueing in potentially degraded visual environments, therefore easily allowing target designation and allocation of points of interest with the aircraft’s sensors. Scorpion® is fully interchangeable between helmets/pilots as it is installed directly over standard helmets, allowing the total amount of equipment necessary for the fleet to be reduced, thus favouring maintenance and reducing life-cycle costs. Source thalesgroup.com
ACES II Ejection Seat
A variant of the M61A2 Vulcan cannon is installed internally above the right air intake. The General Dynamics linkless ammunition handling system holds 480 rounds of 20mm ammunition and feeds the gun at a rate of 100 rounds a second.
M61A2 Vulcan cannon
The M61A1 and M61A2 Gatlin guns are externally powered six-barrel 20mm Gatling gun systems that offer lightweight, highly lethal combat support for a variety of air, land and sea platforms.
The M61A1 and M61A2 increases multiple-hit probabilities when compared to single barrel guns operating at lower rates of fire. The M61A1 and M61A2 weapons provide reliability up to 10 times greater than single-barrel guns.
248 pounds (112.5 kg)
Rate of fire
4,000/6,000 shots per minute
8 milliradians diameter, 80 percent circle
3,380 feet (1,030m) per second
Average recoil force
Hydraulic, electric, pneumatic
Linked or linkless
The F-22 has four hardpoints on the wings, each rated to carry 2,270kg, which can carry AIM-120A AMRAAM or external fuel tanks. The Raptor has three internal weapon bays. The main weapons bay can carry six AMRAAM AIM-120C missiles or two AMRAAM and two 1,000lb GBU-32 joint direct attack munition (JDAM).
Air Force F-22 Conducts Operational Testing of New Weapons Tech: Details
“Another part of the weapons upgrade includes engineering the F-22 to fire the AIM-120D, a beyond visual range Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM), designed for all weather day-and-night attacks; it is a “fire and forget” missile with active transmit radar guidance, Raytheon data states.” Source nationalinterest.org
The AIM-120 AMRAAM is a medium-range, air-to-air missile designed to meet the requirements of the United States and allied nations. The AIM-120 missile is faster, smaller and lighter than its predecessor the AIM-7 Sparrow medium-range missile and also has improved capabilities against low-altitude targets. AMRAAM incorporates active radar seeker with mid-course inertial navigation making it less dependent on aircraft’s fire control radar. That capability enables simultaneous AMRAAM launching against different targets. For better performance AMRAAM can receive target location updates from the radar system of the launch aircraft. It has a blast fragmentation warhead detonated by a proximity fuse.
The combat proven AIM-120 AMRAAM missile was employed during military campaigns over Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. The Air Forces of 18 nations operate the AMRAAM missile. The AMRAAM missile is operational on the F-15, F-16, F/A-18, F-4F, JAS-39, Sea-Harrier and Tornado aircraft. Raytheon is integrating the AIM-120 on the Eurofighter-Typhoon, F/A-22A and Harrier II+. AIM-120’s flexibility concept allows it to be integrated on ground systems becoming a surface-to-air missile. It is being integrated on Norway’s NASAMS, Hawk-AMRAAM and HMMWV Surface-to-Air Systems.
The AIM-120D, formerly known as the AIM-120C8, is the latest development of the AMRAAM missile family designed and build by Raytheon and developed under P3I Phase 4 initiative. AIM-120D features a new navigation system and hardened design for internal weapons bay carriage. The United States Air Force (USAF) assessment of the AIM-120C variant on the F/A-22 Raptor aircraft determined that vibration levels in certain frequencies are harmful to the missile’s electronics. AIM-120D AMRAAM missile variant tries to fix it. In April 2006 the USAF released that the AIM-120D was undergoing testing on the F-22 aircraft monitored by Raytheon at Edwards Air Force Base, California. AIM-120 new features encompass: an enhanced data link, improved kinematics and GPS Inertial Measurement Unit. Source deagel.com
1,000lb GBU-32 joint direct attack munition (JDAM)
JDAM is a guided air-to-surface weapon that uses either the 2,000-pound BLU-109/MK 84, the 1,000-pound BLU-110/MK 83 or the 500-pound BLU-111/MK 82 warhead as the payload. JDAM enables employment of accurate air-to-surface weapons against high priority fixed and relocatable targets from fighter and bomber aircraft. Guidance is facilitated through a tail control system and a GPS-aided INS. The navigation system is initialized by transfer alignment from the aircraft that provides position and velocity vectors from the aircraft systems.
Once released from the aircraft, the JDAM autonomously navigates to the designated target coordinates. Target coordinates can be loaded into the aircraft before takeoff, manually altered by the aircrew before weapon release, or automatically entered through target designation with onboard aircraft sensors. In its most accurate mode, the JDAM system will provide a weapon circular error probable of 5 meters or less during free flight when GPS data is available. If GPS data is denied, the JDAM will achieve a 30-meter CEP or less for free flight times up to 100 seconds with a GPS quality handoff from the aircraft.
JDAM can be launched from very low to very high altitudes in a dive, toss or loft and in straight and level flight with an on-axis or off-axis delivery. JDAM enables multiple weapons to be directed against single or multiple targets on a single pass.
JDAM is currently compatible with B-1B, B-2A, B-52H, AV-8B, F-15E, F/A-18C/D/E/F, F-16C/D and F-22 aircraft. Follow-on integration efforts are currently underway or planned to evaluate compatibility with the A-10, F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle.
Primary Function: Guided air-to-surface weapon
Contractor: Boeing Company
Length: (JDAM and warhead) GBU-31 (v) 1/B: 152.7 inches (387.9 centimeters); GBU-31 (v) 3/B: 148.6 inches (377.4 centimeters); GBU-32 (v) 1/B: 119.5 inches (303.5 centimeters); GBU-38: 92.6 inches (235.2 centimeters)
Launch Weight: (JDAM and warhead) GBU-31 (v) 1/B: 2,036 pounds (925.4 kilograms); GBU-31 (v) 3/B: 2,115 pounds (961.4 kilograms); GBU-32 (v) 1/B: 1,013 pounds (460.5 kilograms); GBU-38: 558 pounds (253.6 kilograms)
Wingspan: GBU-31: 25 inches (63.5 centimeters); GBU-32: 19.6 inches (49.8 centimeters); GBU-38: 14 inches (35.6 centimeters)
Range: Up to 15 miles
Ceiling: 45,000-plus feet (13,677 meters)
Guidance System: GPS/INS
Unit cost: Approximately $22,000 per tailkit (fiscal 2007 dollars)
Date Deployed: 1999
GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb
The SDB system employs a smart carriage capable of carrying four 250-lb class guided air-to-surface munitions. It is capable of destroying high-priority fixed and stationary targets from Air Force fighters and bombers in internal bays or on external hard-points. SDB increases aircraft loadout, decreases the logistical footprint, decreases collateral damage, and improves aircraft sortie generation times.
The SDB provides a transformational capability to the warfighter increasing smart weapon carriage by placing up to four smart weapons per 1760 store location.
The weapon system is capable of standoff ranges in excess of 40 nautical miles. The system can be targeted and released against single or multiple targets. SDB target coordinates are loaded into the weapon before release either on the ground or in the air by the aircrew. Once the weapon is released, it relies on GPS/INS to self-navigate to the desired impact point.
Primary Function: Guided air-to-surface weapon
Contractor: Boeing Co.
Range: More than 40 nautical miles (46 miles)
Guidance System: Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation System
Unit cost: Approximately $40,000
Initial operational capability: October 2006
Projected Inventory: Total force, 24,000 munitions and 2,000 carriages
The bay is fitted with the EDO Corp. LAU-142/A AVEL AMRAAM vertical ejection launcher which is a pneumatic-ejection system controlled by the stores management system. Raytheon AMRAAM air-to-air missile is an all-weather short- to medium-range radar-guided fire-and-forget missile, with a range of 50nm. The side bays can each be loaded with one Lockheed Martin / Raytheon AIM-9M or AIM-9X Sidewinder all-aspect short-range air-to-air missile.
AIM-9M or AIM-9X Sidewinder
The AIM-9X is the fifth generation Sidewinder and is now in production. The AIM-9X features a high off-boresight focal-plane array seeker mounted on a highly maneuverable airframe with a greatly improved infrared anti-countermeasures capability.
The AIM-9X provides a launch-and-leave air combat missile capability, which uses passive infrared energy for acquisition and tracking of enemy aircraft. It is a joint U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force program (led by the Navy). The AIM-9X achieved Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in November 2003 and full rate production was approved in May 2004. The AIM-9X is equipped with a conventional WDU-17/B blast fragmentation warhead and the Mk 139 Sidewinder single-thrust propulsion system manufactured by Orbital ATK. Complemented by the AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM), the AIM-9X provides offensive firepower – unmatched by any other weapon system in the world. The AIM-9X is compatible with the Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS).
Differences Between the AIM-9X and AIM-9M
The AIM-9X retains several components from the previous Sidewinder generation, the AIM-9M (fuse, rocket motor, and warhead), but incorporates a new airframe with much smaller fins and canards, and relies in a jet-vane steering system for significantly enhanced agility. The new guidance unit incorporates an advanced Imaging Infrared (IIR) seeker. Source fi-aeroweb.com
The GPS-guided, Boeing small diameter bomb (SDB) was integrated on the F/A-22 in February 2007. Eight SDBs can be carried with two AMRAAM missiles.
The AN/APG-77 radar has been developed for the F-22 by the Electronic Sensors and Systems Division of Northrop Grumman and Raytheon Electronic Systems. The radar uses an active electronically scanned antenna array of 2,000 transmitter / receive modules, which provides agility, low radar cross-section and wide bandwidth. Deliveries of the AN/APG-77 began in May 2005.
The AN/APG-77 is a multifunction Low probability of intercept radar installed on the F-22 Raptor fighter aircraft. The radar is built by Northrop Grumman. It is a solid-state, active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar. Composed of 1956 transmit/receive modules, each about the size of a gum stick, it can perform a near-instantaneous beam steering (in the order of tens of nanoseconds). The APG-77 provides 120° field of view in azimuth and elevation, which is the highest possible value for a flat phased array antenna. As yet unconfirmed sources suggest that APG-77 has a ‘typical’ operating range of 193 km (120 mi) and is specified to achieve an 86% probability of intercept against a 1 m2 target at its maximum detection range using a single radar paint.Other source described only as being more than 100 mi (160 km). However, it’s thought to be closer to 125–150 mi (201–241 km), or even 400 km for newer GaAs modules on the APG-77v1, which is much farther than the standard F-15’s original APG-63(v)1 56-mile (90 km) radar range More than one hundred APG-77 AESA radars have been produced to date by Northrop Grumman, and much of the technology developed for the APG-77 is being used in the APG-81 radar for the F-35 Lightning II. The APG-77v1 was installed on F-22 Raptors from Lot 5 and on. This provided full air-to-ground functionality (high-resolution synthetic aperture radar mapping, ground moving target indication and track (GMTI/GMTT), automatic cueing and recognition, combat identification, and many other advanced features) Source dbpedia.org
|Type: Radar||Altitude Max: 0 m|
|Range Max: 407.4 km||Altitude Min: 0 m|
|Range Min: 0.2 km||Generation: Late 2000s|
|Properties: Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) [Side Info], Non-Coperative Target Recognition (NCTR) – Narrow Beam Interleaved Search and Track [Class Info], Continous Tracking Capability [Phased Array Radar], Track While Scan (TWS), Low Probability of Intercept (LPI), Pulse Doppler Radar (Full LDSD Capability), Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA)|
|SENSORS / EW:|
|AN/APG-77(V)1 AESA – (LPI) Radar
Role: Radar, FCR, Air-to-Air & Air-to-Surface, Long-Range
Max Range: 407.4 km
Countermeasures of F-22
The mantra ‘manoeuvrability is irrelevant … let the missiles do the turning,’ is another dangerous misconception popular in the contemporary planning community. If the enemy does not have stealthy aircraft, they have to rely on several layers of countermeasures, manoeuvre being one. And it works. Blasting a simple-minded missile with clever deceptive waveforms, putting a towed decoy in its path and confusing it with forward and rear firing chaff can hide the true target, making it miss. Simple Newtonian physics shows that an aircraft at Mach 0.9 with a 9G turning capability can easily out-turn and avoid Mach 3.6 missiles with a 40G turning capability. Another miss.
Those who believe in the absolute impenetrability of ‘stealth’ create a deadly delusion: ‘you can’t see me, so you can’t fire at me, so I don’t need to care about terminal endgame countermeasures’. The problem is, the enemy can see the F-22A close up, can see the F-35 from quite a range, especially side and rear on, and can fire missiles with radar and infra-red seekers. So when these missiles close on an aircraft without effective terminal endgame countermeasures, they kill. The F-22A’s kinematics give it a fair chance of escaping a missile shot – the F-35 JSF very little chance. How does a Mach 1.5 JSF (JORD spec is Mach 1.5 S&L @ 30 kft ISA) escape a Mach 2.25 Sukhoi, especially when the Sukhoi has fuel to burn? Source ausairpower.net
The aircraft’s electronic warfare system includes a radar warning receiver and a BAE Systems information & electronic warfare systems (IEWS) (formerly Lockheed Martin Sanders) missile launch detector.
AN/AAR-56 Missile Launch Detector (MLD)
|Type: Infrared||Altitude Max: 0 m|
|Range Max: 9.3 km||Altitude Min: 0 m|
|Range Min: 0 km||Generation: Early 2010s|
|Properties: Continous Tracking Capability [Visual]|
|SENSORS / EW:|
|AN/AAR-56 PMAWS – (F-22) Infrared
Role: MAWS, Missile Approach Warning System
Max Range: 9.3 km
AN/ALR-94 radar warning receiver (RWR)
|Type: ESM||Altitude Max: 0 m|
|Range Max: 926 km||Altitude Min: 0 m|
|Range Min: 0 km||Generation: Late 2000s|
|SENSORS / EW:|
|AN/ALR-94 – ESM
Max Range: 926 km
MJU-39/40 flares for protection against IR missiles
Navigation and communications
The TRW CNI communications, navigation and identification system includes an intra-flight datalink, joint tactical information distribution system (JTIDS) link and an identification friend or foe (IFF) system.
Boeing is responsible for mission software and avionics integration. The aircraft has a Northrop Grumman (formerly Litton) LTN-100G laser gyroscope inertial reference, a global positioning system and a microwave landing system.
F-22 to Get Software Update 6 for Datalink and Sensor Targeting Technology: Details
Software Update 6
In 2012, Government Accountability Office (GAO) documents show that the USAF plans to bring 143 F-22As to the Block 35 standard with full Increment 3.2 upgrades at a total cost of $1.5653 billion and a unit cost of $10.298 million per airframe. These 143 airframes likely consist of 123 PMAI (Primary Mission Aircraft Inventory) aircraft as well as those squadron’s accompanied 12 BAIs (Backup Aircraft Inventory) airframes and the remaining 8 airframes would plausibly be assigned to Nellis for TES or USAF Weapons School roles. Major F-22 upgrade programs are detailed below, the upgrades are generally understood to be associated with the following Block designations:
- Increment 2.0 = Block 20 – earlier airframes upgraded to this baseline
- Increment 3.1 = Block 30
- Increment 3.2 = Block 35
In addition to the upgrade programs below, the F-22 is receiving additional upgrades through the Increment 3.2 follow-on, “Budget Program Activity Code [BPAC]: 674788 – F-22 Tactical Mandates” which consists of Update 5 and Update 6.
The F-22 Tactical Mandates series of software upgrades have three principal objectives: reduce the risk of fratricide, improve fourth-to-fifth generation communication, and complete risk reduction measures for the Increment 3.2B upgrade via partial integration of the AIM-9X. The most substantial Tactical Mandates components not listed under either Update 5 or Update 6 are Link-16 transmit capability and Identification friend or foe (IFF) mode 5 integration. A total of 72 F-22As will receive Link-16 transmit capability by 2020; the distribution of these 72 aircraft among the PMAI squadrons and the nature of the Link-16 modification, i.e. use of L-3 developed “Chameleon” waveform to reduce probability of detection, have not been specified.  In the interim period prior to the 2020 Link-16 upgrade, Raptor pilots will continue to utilize a series of ad-hoc operational procedures to share information over UHF and VHF radio with 4th generation pilots when there are no Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) aircraft is not present; Update 5 modified aircraft will also be able to utilize the Intra-Flight Data Link (IFDL) GWY Mode as a means to communicate with 4th generation aircraft.
In 2014, pilots from the 422d TES tested the Scorpion helmet mounted cueing system (HMCS) for integration with the F-22. However, the Scorpion was ultimately not funded as the Air Force was struggling to fund Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC) mandated items such as mode 5 IFF as part of the Tactical Mandates program. While integration of a HMCS or helmet mounted display (HMD) may seem of greater utility to F-22 combat capabilities than IFF upgrades, aircraft than have not featured the latest available IFF standard have often been relegated to subordinate roles or have had to adhere to strict rules of engagement which greatly diminish the capabilities of their aircraft. For example, F-4 Phantoms often struggled to identify distant radar contacts in the early years of the Vietnam War such that full use of the Phantom’s beyond visual range (BVR) capabilities was not realized until the fielding of the APX-80 IFF in 1972.
The APX-80 IFF was developed under the “Combat Tree” program in which the U.S. covertly acquired Soviet SRO-2 IFFs from Arab MiGs downed during the Six Day War. APX-80 equipped Phantoms enabled pilots to not only recognize friendly IFF contacts, but also to definitely recognize adversary aircraft at BVR.
The Update 5 software modification component of the Tactical Mandates program is actively being integrated within the F-22 fleet, “The Update 5 Operation Flight Program (OFP) includes Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (AGCAS), Intra Flight Data Link Mode 5th to 4th generation IFDL capability (IFDL GWY Mode), and basic to Block I AIM-9X missile launch capability”. Full integration of the more capable AIM-9X Block II requires Increment 3.2B upgrades which prove two-way datalink functionality between the F-22 and AIM-9X Block II thereby enabling lock-after launch (LOAL) capability. Furthermore, the symbology, possibly the weapons engagement zone (WEZ), for the AIM-9X is displayed with AIM-9M characteristics on the F-22’s HUD under the Update 5 modification. Increment 3.2B will rectify the symbology issues but is not scheduled to incorporate a HMD which facilitate AIM-9X HOBS. However, Raptor pilots will still be able to fully utilize the AIM-9X’s increased range and maneuverability enhancements over the AIM-9M as a result of the Update 5 modification. While the AIM-9X integration component of Update 5 is significant, the AGCAS capability is critical to mitigating the potential of future write-offs within the small F-22 fleet; the Update 5 modification also improves general software stability.
Update 6 appears to be geared towards both denying potential adversaries a source of signals intelligence and bolstering the cyber security, and possibly the resilience of, of Link-16 and IFDL:
U6 will develop, test and field new capabilities and capability enhancements including changes driven by real world evolving threats, emergency/safety of flight issues, and deficiency reports. U6 Interoperability provides cryptographic updates required by the National Security Agency (NSA) to IFDL, Link-16, and Tactical Secure Voice (TSV) and development to maintain interoperability with the enhancements to Link-16 and Secure Voice networks. The U6 Interoperability program will absorb and build upon the development work already accomplished in the KOV-20 Cryptographic Modernization Program and integrate that development into a single Operational Flight Program (OFP) for fleet release. In addition, U6 Interoperability will develop and deliver software fixes identified as critical to the operational community. – Exhibit R-2, RDT&E Budget Item Justification: PB 2016 Air Force – PE 0207138F: F, 2015. [Emphasis added]
While the current F-22 modernization program represents a holistic approach to increasing the combat capabilities of the fleet with respect to suppression of enemy air defense (SEAD)/destruction of enemy air defense (DEAD) roles, augmenting the F-22’s already formidable beyond visual range (BVR) and within visual range (WVR) capabilities, and improving 4th to 5th generation compatibility – planned upgrades to not remedy deeper design deficiencies within the F-22A. While the F-22 is unambiguously the most lethal air-to-air platform in existence, the F-22 was designed during the 1980s and 1990s under a different threat and technological environment. Namely the F-22’s antiquated internal computing capabilities, software, high maintenance requirements, and limited combat radius degrade the utility of the F-22 within the context of operating in the Asia-Pacific against increasingly capable great power threats. Source manglermuldoon.blogspot.com
US Air Force networks F-15 and F-22 fighters: Details
“F-22s use a unique Intra-Flight Data Link (IFDL) that works only with other F-22s, while the newer F-35s use the Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL), which can only talk to other F-35s.”
U-2 spyplane relays and translates data between F-22s and F-35s
A U-2 spyplane has successfully acted as an airborne interpreter and data-link between an F-22 Raptor and five F-35 Lightning IIs. The Project Hydra test by conducted by Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, the US Missile Defense Agency and the US Air Force demonstrates for the first time how the 5th Generation fighters can share data.
Ever since the F-22 was introduced in 2005, it’s been recognized as one of the most advanced and capable fighter planes in the world. However, it isn’t very good at directly sharing data with anything other than other F-22s. As a result, F-22 pilots are forced to convey the data that the fighter’s system gathers by using old-fashioned voice radio calls.
That may seem like an example of bad engineering, but it’s really a matter of clashing requirements. While the F-22 can receive radio signals by the standards set for US and NATO systems, the F-22 can’t transmit over those systems because the F-22 is designed to be stealthy. This means that they have to use the Intra-Flight Data Link (IFDL) radio transmitter, which is extremely difficult for hostile forces to detect and zero in on.
Meanwhile, the F-35 has a similar problem when it comes to talking to the F-22, because it also needs to be stealthy, so it uses the Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL). This was also supposed to be retroactively installed in the F-22, but that was cancelled due to budget cuts.
Project Hydra aims to overcome this communications bottleneck by using an Open Systems Gateway (OSG) payload installed in a high-flying U-2 spyplane, which both translates and relays the data between the F-22 and the F-35s, and also with units on the ground over a Tactical Targeting Network Terminal (TTNT) link. In addition, it also sends target tracks to each fighter’s avionics and pilot displays.
For the recent test, the data was sent to the US Army Integrated Battle Command System (IBCS) Airborne Sensor Adaptation Kit (A-Kit), which relayed the data to the IBCS Tactical System Integration Laboratory (TSIL) at Fort Bliss, Texas, to support a simulated Army firing exercise using targeting data from the five F-35s. By using the U-2, the six aircraft remained connected with each other as well as global command and control units even when they were out of line-of-sight of one another.
“Project Hydra marks the first time that bi-directional communications were established between 5th Generation aircraft in-flight, while also sharing operational and sensor data down to ground operators for real-time capability,” says Jeff Babione, vice president and general manager, Lockheed Martin Skunk Works. “This next-level connectivity reduces the data-to-decision timeline from minutes to seconds, which is critical in fighting today’s adversaries and advanced threats.” Source: Lockheed Martin
U-2 Dragon Lady: Details
F-35 Lightning II: Details
Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS)
The F-22 is powered by two Pratt and Whitney F119-100 engines. The F119-100 is a low bypass after-burning turbofan engine providing 156kN thrust. The F119 is the first fighter aircraft engine equipped with hollow wide chord fan blades which are installed in the first fan stage.
2 x Pratt and Whitney F119-100 engines
Thrust vectoring is controlled by a Hamilton Standard dual redundant full authority digital engine control (FADEC). The FADEC is integrated with the flight control computers in the BAE Systems flight controls vehicle management system.
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)
Unit cost: $143 million
Initial operating capability: December 2005
Inventory: total force, 183
Specification Source af.mil
Main material source airforce-technology.com
Images are from public domain unless otherwise stated
Main image by U.S. Air Force / Staff Sgt. Don Hudson
REVISED Mar 04, 2020
Updated Oct 18, 2021