The Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor is arguably the most lethal jet fighter of all time. This American single-seat, twin-engine, all-engine stealth fighter plane is developed for the USAF.
King of the Skies
When the Raptor finally entered service in 2005, there were no doubts that it was an absolutely lethal machine that had been created. It had a length of 62 feet, a wingspan of 44 feet, and was quite similar in size to the F-15 Eagle.
However, what’s unique about it is the diamond shape of its wings giving the plane a very high wing area, which along with the massive tail fins, makes the F-22 highly maneuverable. This maneuverability is aided by a pair of Pratt and Whitney F-119 turbofan engines with thrust vectoring, allowing the plane to redirect its exhaust for superb handling.
All of this, along with its computed assisted controlling, allows the Raptor to pull spectacular stunts and maneuvers that almost seem to defy the law of physics.
Fearsome Fifth-Generation Fighter
Maneuverability is only part of what makes the F-22 one of the fiercest fifth-generation fighters. These Pratt and Whitney engines have a maximum thrust of approximately 35,000 pounds which can blast the aircraft to a maximum speed of Mach 2.2.
It also has the ability to supercruise. Meaning, it could maintain supersonic speeds without the use of afterburners.
A Class of Its Own
What really makes the F-22 a class of its own is its stealth. To avoid bouncing radio waves back toward the enemy radar, the Raptor was carefully designed with state-of-the-art low observability.
This includes the shape of its airframe often referred to as continuous curves which avoid flat engines as much as possible, scattering radar waves, and preventing them from returning to their sender.
The materials used also played a key role. Special and highly classified radar absorber materials are used to coat the F-22, making radar waves lose energy as they are reflected.
Most Advanced Avionics of All Time
When the Raptor was first introduced, it came with the most advanced avionics of all time. The baseline software of the plane is composed of 1.7 million lines of code handling everything from an advanced missile approach warning system, to onboard radars, and electronic warfare.
Six sensors around the jet give it complete spherical infrared around and a design to operate in all weather conditions. The information collected by the Raptor can easily be transferred to friendly aircraft and vice versa. This gives it an incredibly high level of integration on the battlefield with other Raptors and exceptional situational awareness.
All in all, the Raptor was truly a marvel of engineering, with a blend of top-of-the-line aerospace materials engineering, software development, and a whole lot more.
There’s also a whole lot more information that isn’t released about the F-22 since it’s classified and its true abilities aren’t even allowed to be demonstrated in training with US allies. The US paid around 70 billion for the program and they got one of the quickest, most maneuverable, and stealthiest aircraft of all time.