F117 Night Hawk Stealth Fighter Retires to Make Way for The F22 Raptor

The F117 will hold a place in American Memory, for years it was an icon of our advanced air superiority in America.  When ever a movie wanted to imply something big was going down, the rolled out the F117 with its unmistakable Black V-Shape, and sharp angles.

Retired F117 Night Hawk to be Replaced by the F22 Raptor

The Lockheed Martin F22 Raptor looks less distinct, but is much more advanced.

F-22 Raptor Replacement for the F117 Stealth Fighter

No fighter in the world comes close to matching the F-22. By every measure, the Raptor represents extraordinary breakthroughs in maneuverability, stealth, sensor fusion – a wealth of parameters that define a new era in fighter capability.

The origins of the F-22 can be traced to the early 1970s, when the U.S. Air Force began studying concepts for replacement of its F-15 air superiority fighter. This became a formal program when the service requested proposals for an Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) in October 1985. The simple fact: New air and ground threats were looming that the F-15 would not be able to counter.

Now these threats will be defeated by the highly lethal and survivable F-22, with its balance of increased speed and range, enhanced offensive and defensive avionics, and reduced observability. The design of the F-22 also emphasizes reliability and maintainability of systems.

The F-22 is capable of flying and fighting against the most advanced integrated radar networks and dense surface-to-air missile environments in the world – now and in the future. A new generation of fighters is under development in several countries around the world today. The advent of these new fighters, as well as the continuing export of current air defense and adversary advanced fighter technology to the Third World, put the United States’ ability to gain and maintain air superiority, much less air dominance, at increasing risk. The F-22 will retain the competitive edge through innovations and technologies no one can match.

In early 2001, the U.S. Air Force introduced a concept called Global Strike Task Force in which the F-22 Raptor is the enabler for all other forces. The success of any major air-land operation – today and in the future – depends primarily on the United States’ preeminent ability to detect and destroy enemy fighters as well as attack high-value ground targets with precision weapons.

With the F-22, the era of U.S. air dominance – against all ground- and air-based threats – has begun.

Airframe

The F-22 represents a significant design evolution. Low-observable technology has advanced to the point where conventional aerodynamic configurations can incorporate stealth technology without compromising aerodynamic performance or increasing costs significantly.

Design development risk was greatly reduced as shown in the 1986 – 1990 demonstration/validation program where angle of attack attitudes up to 60 degrees were flown. The F-22’s high angle of attack capability was similarly demonstrated in testing at Edwards Air Force Base, California. The aircraft’s stealth features were confirmed during full-scale pole model testing and later ground and air testing.

Thermoset and some thermoplastic composites are used extensively for a structural design with reduced weight and improved aerodynamic performance. Composite materials make up approximately 27 percent of the F-22’s weight.

Avionics

The requirements for the F-22’s avionics system are derived from the F-22 Weapon System Concept, the guiding design principles for the aircraft’s overall design. The integrated avionics system is one of the essential elements, along with stealth, maneuverability and supercruise, which will give the F-22 the tactical advantage against the threats of the future.

The F-22’s avionics suite features extensive use of very high-speed integrated circuit technology, common modules and high-speed data buses. The avionics suite is an advanced integrated system that allows the pilot to concentrate fully on the mission, rather than on managing the sensors.

The avionics system is now flying on the F-22, and the advanced Block 3.0 software, which provides nearly full sensor and avionics functionality, began testing on the Raptor in early 2001.

Technologies incorporated in the F-22 include:

  • A common integrated processor (CIP), a central “brain” with the equivalent computing throughput of two Cray supercomputers
  • Shared low-observable antennas
  • Ada software
  • Expert systems
  • Advanced data fusion cockpit displays
  • Integrated electronic warfare system (INEWS) technology
  • Integrated communications, navigation and identification (CNI) avionics technology
  • Fiber optic data transmission

Specifications:

Primary function

Air dominance fighter

Official nickname

Raptor

Airframe builders

Lockheed Martin (Marietta, Georgia, and Fort Worth, Texas) and Boeing (Seattle, Washington)

Engine builder

Pratt & Whitney (East Hartford, Connecticut)

Power plant

Two Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 turbofan engines with afterburners and two-dimensional thrust-vectoring nozzles. Each engine is in the 35,000-lb-thrust class.

Length

62 ft. 1 in.

Wingspan

44 ft. 6 in.

Height

16 ft. 5 in.

Top speed

Mach 2 class

Supercruise speed

Mach 1.5+

Ceiling and weight

Classified

Armament

Internally, six radar-guided AIM-120C advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles (or two 1,000-pound class GBU-32 joint direct attack munitions in place of four of the AIM-120Cs) in main weapons bay; two heat-seeking AIM-9 Sidewinder short-range air-to-air missiles in side weapons bays (one in each bay)

One M61A2 20 mm multi-barrel cannon

Four external stations can carry additional stores (weapons or fuel tanks)

Crew

Pilot only

First flight

September 7, 1997

Flight test aircraft

Nine

Initial operational capability

December 15, 2005

Planned production

Current USAF requirements: 381 aircraft

Weapons

F/A-22 with weapons bay openThe F-22 carries weapons in three internal bays on the underside of the aircraft. These weapons include six radar-guided AIM-120C medium-range air-to-air missiles (AMRAAMs) in the main weapons bay, and two heat-seeking, short-range AIM-9M Sidewinders (one in each side weapons bay). The F-22 has an internal M61A2 20mm cannon, an advanced version of the proven M61 Gatling-type gun.

In addition, the F-22 has inherent ground attack capability, as it can carry two 1,000-pound-class GBU-32 joint direct attack munitions (JDAM) internally. The F-22 will also have provisions to carry other weapons in the future.