The NEW Super F-22 Replacement is Coming
The US Air Force decided to divert those funds for research on cutting-edge combat jet designs as part of the NGAD program. The F-22 Raptor fleet will be replaced by this sixth-generation fighter aircraft in the coming years.
The NGAD originates from DARPA’s Air Dominance Initiative study in 2014, and is expected to field the new fighter aircraft in the 2030s. The secretive NGAD will then be able to directly fill the F-22 Raptor’s air superiority role after the F-22’s siren song, but not on a one-for-one basis.
Developed to meet the USAF’s Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) requirement for an F-15 replacement. Requirement for a new fighter was issued in the early 1980s. Two companies competed to meet this USAF requirement, including Lockheed Martin (which teamed up with Boeing and General Dynamics) with a YF-22 prototype and Northrop (which teamed with McDonnel Douglas) with its YF-23. In 1991 the YF-22 design was announced the winner. It was more agile than the YF-23, but less stealthier and slower. Between 1990 to 1997 two YF-22A prototypes evaluated some of the technologies proposed for the production ATF.
The EMD contract issued in August 1991 called for 11 (later reduced to 9) F-22s; two were planned as F-22B two-seaters, but this aspect of the programme was cancelled in 1996 as a cost-saving measure. The first EMD F-22A made the type’s maiden flight in 1997. By early 2001 the four available EMD aircraft had demonstrated the type’s excellent capabilities. However, the US Congress called into question the value of such a costly, high-profile programme.
Low-rate initial production of the F-22 was finally approved subject to compliance with stringent objectives. Production of the Raptor ceased in 2011. The last F-22 was delivered to the USAF in 2012. Currently the USAF operates 186 operational F-22 fighters. This air dominance fighter forms the core of the USAF’s wᴀʀ-fighting selection. Interestingly the F-22 was never offered for export customers, even other NATO countries. This advanced aircraft can not be exported to other countries under the US Federal Law.
The F-22’s configuration is designed to meet VLO criteria, key features including a trapezoidal wing whose angles are repeated on other surfaces to reduce radar signature, canted fins and internal weᴀponѕ bay. The core of the offensive avionics is provided by the APG-77 multi-mode radar and a side-mounted phased-array radar. The highly integrated avionics systems also include a data-link, inertial navigation system with embedded GPS for high-accuracy navigation, and advanced electronic warfare, warning and countermeasures systems.
Two central computers manage the automatic switching of the sensors between completely passive and wholly active operation, according to the tactical situation. Artificial intelligence algorithms fuse data from the sensors and present only relevant information to the pilot to reduce workload while at the same time improving tactical awareness. The datalink allows tactical information to be shared with other F-22s. It is worth mentioning, that many of sensors and avionics of this plane remain classified.
The F119 engines high military power rating allow the F-22 to supercruise over long ranges while thrust-vectoring nozzles, combined with a triplex fly-by-wire flight control system, make it exceptionally agile.
The F-22 started life as a straightforward air superiority fighter. However since its introduction this aircraft lacks a formidable air threat from other countries fighters. Later it evolved towards the multi-role fighter, as strike capability was added.
X-44 MANTA was a tailless version of the F-22 Raptor. The MANTA acronym stands for Multi-Axis No-Tail Aircraft. The demonstrator was jointly designed by Lockheed Martin together with NASA. The aircraft featured a stretched delta wing without tail surfaces. Altitude control relied purely on the 3D thrust vectoring. Funding of the program ended in 2000.
FB-22 Strike Raptor was a stealthy ground attack variant. The concept was revealed in 2002. The FB-22 was based on the F-22 airframe design, but had a number of differences. It was planned to be a two-seated, supersonic and stealthy bomber capable of penetrating deep into enemy’s territory. Role-wise, the bombers would replace older aircraft, such as the retired F-111 Aardvark, F-117 Nighthawk to fill the gap of a low-observable strike aircraft. At the time, the US Air Force (USAF) was envisioned to operate 150 of these warplanes. However development of this stealthy strike aircraft was cancelled in 2006. As the United States ceased production of F-22s in 2011, the fate of FB-22 was also sealed permanently.