F-22 Raptor (official designation: F-22A) is a single-seat, twin-engine, stealth fifth-generation air superiority fighter developed by Lochheed Martin and Boeing for the United States Air Force (USAF).
Lockheed Martin's F-22A Raptor is considered to be the most capable fighter aircraft in the world in active service.
The F-22 Raptor is the result of the Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) program, a USAF program for the development of a next generation air superiority fighter.
The Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) was initiated in June 1981, when the United States Air Force (USAF) issued a request for information (RFI) for a new air superiority fighter that will follow the mighty F-15 Eagle.
The new fighter had to be a revolutionary one, incorporating stealth technology, and being manufactured using light alloys and composite materials. The powerfull engine had to have the capability to maintain supercruise flight.
On 31 October 1986, Lockheed and Northrop were selected out of seven bidding companies to built prototypes. For this project, Lockheed teamed with Boeing and General Dynamics while Northrop teamed with McDonnel Douglas.
Each team developed two technology demonstrator prototypes, Lockheed building the YF-22 while Northrop the YF-23.
On 29 September 1990, the YF-22 had its maiden flight reaching a speed of Mach 1.58 in supercruise.
On 23 April 1991, the YF-22 was announed as the winner of the ATF competition. The reasons were that the Lockheeds aircraft was more maneuverable due to its thrust vectoring nozzles, and overall was less expensive and risky than its competitor. The Northrop YF-23 also had its advantages, being stealthier and faster than the Lockheeds design.
USAF planned to buy a total of 750 of the new fighters but eventually only 195 F-22 were produced between 1996 and 2011, eight of them being test aircraft.
The rest of 187 entered in operational service, the last of the jets being delivered in 2012.
The production variant, although very similar in appearance with the YF-22 , had notable differences over the technology demonstrator.
F-22 is not available for foreigh customers, being banned from export by the American Congress.
The F-22 Raptor is a single-seat air superiority fighter aircraft, the pilot controling the aircraft with a force-sensitive side-stick controller and a pair of throttles.
In the cockpit, all the flight instruments are digital, including six LCD panels and a monochrome head-up display (HUD).
The canopy was designed to resist at least 800 hours, and weights 163 kg (360 pounds) being 355 cm long, 115 cm wide, and 69 cm tall (140 inches × 45 inches × 27 inches).
The ejection seat is a variant of the Advanced Concept Ejection Seat (ACES II). ACES II is widely used in other USAF aircrafts.