A brilliant masterpiece of American engineering the F-22 Raptor is a twin-engine, all-weather, stealth fighter jet, jointly produced by Boeing Defense, Space and Security and, principal contractor Lockheed Martin Aeronautics.
The Raptor was originally designed as a sky-dominant fighter jet although it offers various roles such as a ground attack, electronic warfare, and signals intelligence. The thrust-to-weight ratio is an influential factor for the high acceleration of an aircraft where the ratio of F-22 is 1 with typical combat weight and, 1.25 in full afterburner.
The maximum cruise acceleration of the Raptor is Mach 1.5 and approximately Mach 2.25 with afterburners. The combat radius of the Raptor is 850 km in supercruise and the maximum range without external fuel tanks is 3000 km, range can be extendable for use in ferry flights.
The fighter jet can carry one pilot. The first flight of Raptor occurred on 7 September 1997 and to date, USAF is the sole operator of this expensive plane. Flyaway cost of a single raised as high as $300 million and due to this factor Raptor’s production halted at 187 output units.
Performance in US Air Force
For having such extraordinary capabilities both Lockheed Martin and US Air Force declared the aircraft was not designed to take over small insurgent groups and, weak third world militaries. It is designed to acquire air dominance versus powerful rivals possessing advanced ground and sky force. In a military exercise between F-15 and F-22 held in 2003, five eagles fared on solo F-22. Following video showing F-22 capabilities when five eagles jump on it.
How does F-22 achieve maximum speed?
The F-22 Raptor is the most advanced stealth fighter jet in the force. Multiple factors that affect the acceleration of this flying war machine are discussed below.
The F-22 Raptor is powered by a duo of Pratt and Whitney F119-PW-100 turbofan engines. Each powerplant produces 26,000 pounds or 116 kN without an afterburner, it can deliver up to 35,000 pounds or 156 kN of more thrust.
The aerodynamics of the fighter jet plays the most important role in achieving and controlling speedy flying. Accelerating features and aerodynamic design enable aircraft to supercruise at 1.5 times the speed of sound at 50,000 feet. A genius internal weapon bay design made the aircraft less exposed to parasite drag thus giving aircraft an unmatched performance among any other fighter jet on the market.
Normally missiles, bombs, and external fuel tanks are installed under the wings of fighter jets. It is designed with sophistication having a high angle of attack, capable of cruising at the trimmed alpha of over 60° without losing roll control.
Afterburner is installed at the rear of a turbine in a jet engine that adds fuel to exhaust gas, unburnt Oxygen molecules are mixed with fuel and ignited to increase heat energy. This component is very useful in accelerating the fighter jet when chased by another jet or air-to-air missiles. The accelerating power of these engines enhances plane capabilities in dodging lethal weapons such as radar-guided or infrared-guided SAM.
Air gets thinner at higher altitudes and gets thicker near sea level. As it gets less dense, airplanes are exposed to less parasite drag. Due to this factor, Raptor can cruise at greater speeds at high altitudes. The Raptor is designed to fly at a maximum of 60,000 feet above sea level, it is the only fighter aircraft capable of performing tactical maneuvers at this height.
The only limitation for high speeds and service ceilings is the limitation of material used for airframe and power plant construction. The Raptor is constructed with 39% Titanium, 24% composite, 16% Aluminum, and 1% thermoplastic by weight.
Titanium is a high strength-to-weight ratio, and high heat resistant material which is used in critical stress areas and high-temperature areas. Carbon-fiber is another high strength-to-weight ratio material that is used in the construction of fuselage, wing spars, and skin panels. Such materials allow Raptors to cruise and maneuver at supersonic speeds.
The avionics of modern jets play important role in controlling highspeed flight and tactical maneuver. The Raptor is equipped with Hamilton Standard Dual Redundant Full Authority Digital Engine Control FADEC for thrust vectoring. Further FADEC is connected with flight control computers in the BAE Systems controls vehicle management system. Using these technologies, Raptor can handle high speeds safely and precisely.
Why high speed is important for air superiority fighter aircraft?
A premier air superiority fighter jet is designed to seize complete control over enemy airspace. An air dominance fighter jet must be capable of achieving at least Mach 2.0, precise maneuvering, and able to attack targets that are not in visual range. Tactical maneuvering is the most effective way of avoiding missile attacks and, hitting enemy jets. Swift maneuvering capabilities and swift escape is achieved using the afterburner installed in the Raptor.
Comparison with competitors
Every country in the world accepts the superiority of the F-22 Raptor and avoids any kind of engagement with these lethal war machines. A potential competitor of American 5th generation fighter jets is the stealthy Chengdu J-20 developed by Chengdu Aerospace Corporation for PLAF, China.
The J-20 is lethal and equipped with modern warfare avionics however, it is not able to supercruise supersonic without afterburners. Whereas the F-22 can cruise at 1.5 times the speed of sound without using an afterburner.
Which is faster F-22 or F-35?
F-22 can reach the maximum speed of 2,414 km/h or Mach 2.2 with afterburners while F-35 can attain a maximum of Mach 1.6 with afterburners. F-22 has a cruising speed of Mach 1.5 without using an afterburner.
Why is the F-22 so slow?
The top speed of the F-22 Raptor is 2.2 times the speed of sound or 2,414 km/h on the other hand top speed of F-15 is 3,017 km/h. The reason for F-22’s slower speed is the lower thrust-to-weight ratio. The ratio of the F-15 Eagle is 1.2 pounds of thrust for every pound of plane weight.
What is the fastest US fighter jet?
The NASA/USAF X-15 is the fastest fighter jet ever produced on American soil. It can reach up to Mach 6.72 or 8298 km/h.
Why was the F-22 canceled?
F-22 Raptor was canceled because of the high expenses of its total program and actual fly away cost of $334 million per airplane. Moreover, US Air Force never took F-22 to any combat as the fighter jet was designed for a fair fight with the latest generation fighter jets of modern air forces.
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