Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor. The world’s best fighter and wonder of technology rolled into one. Air superiority fighters are a particular type of aircraft. Unlike multi-role planes, their priority is strictly defined tasks, in particular ensuring total air domination over the enemy.
They are responsible for intercepting the enemy and destroying them before they can get close to the country’s borders and do it as soon as possible. Therefore, a superior fighter must have speed and the ability to obtain combat readiness and show high maneuverability, which is crucial in air combat.
Although the first deliveries of this extraordinary aircraft took place in 2004, work on it began in the 1980s, when the US Department of Defense decided to prepare a successor to their super fighter, which is still being used today – the F15.
Several companies with different concepts for building a super-fighter joined the “Advanced Tactical Fighter” program. There were only two left – Lockheed with the YF-22 project and Northrop with the YF-23. The winner of the tender was the first project, and after the announcement of the winner, the letter “Y” denoting the prototype aircraft disappeared from its name. Thus, The F-22 Raptor became the flagship fighter of the modern battlefield.
Speed & Features:
The Raptor flies very high and very fast to befit a super fighter. Its top speed is almost 2,500 km / h, and the maximum ceiling is over 65,000 feet. Its effective range is nearly 3,000 kilometers. Such volatile properties are provided by two powerful Pratt & Whitney F119 engines, which together generate over 200 kN of thrust, and with the use of an afterburner – over 300 kN.
In addition, thanks to the position change of the exhaust nozzles of the engines, the Raptor can take off faster and thus operate from slightly shorter runways. Interestingly, the F-22 Raptor can achieve the speed of sound (about 1225 km / h in reference conditions) even without using an afterburner.
Design of the F22 Raptor :
In designing the F-22, the engineers focused on giving it “Stealth” features among other things, i.e., those that make it difficult to detect and recognize the aircraft by the enemy air defense forces.
In the case of the Raptor, this relative “invisibility” to radars has been achieved through several neat solutions, such as the use of unique materials with the ability to absorb electromagnetic radiation that the enemy’s radars “scan” the area with.
They also reduced the thermal footprint behind the plane, making it much easier for the Raptor pilot to lose an infrared-guided missile rushing at it. The F-22 Raptor looks completely different than previous planes. Because apart from the futuristic shape, its technology is ahead of other constructions, at least a dozen years.
In addition to the stealth capabilities, the aircraft has a state-of-the-art radar capable of detecting the enemy from over 240 km and very modern avionics based on glass cockpit solutions, making it easier for the pilot to check the condition of his machine quickly.
Based on these unique features, it is estimated that the F-22 Raptor will provide the US with complete air domination for another 30 years.
Although the F-22 Raptor is a typical fighter, it can carry more than just air combat weapons. That is why it underwent its baptism of fire when it launched actions against the Islamic State, during which it attacked ISIS ground targets. Its hull can accommodate eight-light GBU-39 bombs or other JDAM sets.
There are at least a few possible weapon configurations in the F-22. Some of them include the suspension of additional fuel tanks and rockets under the wings (increasing range and firepower), making the aircraft much easier to recognize on the enemy’s radar. In order to maintain the stealth features, carried weapons are hidden in specially closed bulkheads located in the hull.
One hour of Raptor flight costs about $ 60,000. In just one hour, the pilot “burns” a nice car, and during the two-hour mission, the house! An experienced pilot with a flight time of 1000 hours on his account was flying the equivalent of over half a billion zlotys! An hour of flight on the “Polish” F-16 costs about PLN 40,000. So it can be said that during the training and service, the pilots “fly out” a tiny fortune.
Not every country can become the owner of this super plane. It is not only a matter of the vast amount of money needed to buy and maintain this masterpiece of modern technology but also the restrictions imposed by the US Department of Defense on Lockheed. No wonder it would be foolish to share a weapon that is so effective.
It’s hard to put a price on this fantastic machine. According to preliminary estimates, for an order of 300, one copy would cost nearly $ 120 million. Savings and cuts, however, forced the US authorities to reduce the order, and from the initially planned 700 Raptor, only 187 entered service. In this case, only one Raptor cost approximately 150 million dollars, which is almost as much as ten “Polish” F-16s!