F-22 Raptor

Here is an essay I wrote for school about the F-22 Raptor, as we were allowed to write about anything of our choice 🙂

The Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor (more commonly known as the F-22 Raptor) was built in response to a request from the USAF for an Advanced Tactical Fighter. Its competitor was the McDonnell Douglas YF-23 Blackwidow. The Raptor won the competition and now is the main fighter of the USAF. It has partially replaced the F-15 Eagle (and Strike Eagle). The F-15 has been kept in service as not enough Raptors could be bought to fully replace it, due to the very high cost of the Raptor. The US is not willing to sell any Raptors to other countries.

The Raptor is mainly an air superiority fighter, meaning that it can invade and keep airspace and eliminate airborne threats nearby. It can also be used for ground attack, but is better suited to the air-to-air role. It is one of the most advanced fighters in the world. It has many displays in the cockpit giving the pilot vital information without overloading him.

One of the Raptor’s main advantages is stealth, which means that it is very difficult to detect by radar. It does this by deflecting radar signals away with its peculiar shape and is built of materials, which absorb much of the signals. It keeps its weapons on the inside of the plane, as weapons give a large radar cross section. It also can supercruise, meaning that it can fly faster than sound without the use of afterburner, which gives a very visible heat signature and wastes a lot of fuel. Its engines are slightly hidden by the nozzles at the back of the aircraft. All this means that the Raptor is almost invisible to radar and is very difficult for an enemy plane to lock on to. It also means that the Raptor, with its very effective radar, can see and shoot at enemies long before they see the Raptor. An enemy wishing to shoot down the Raptor would find it almost impossible to get a lock on a Raptor for radar guided missiles. It would find getting a lock for heat seeking missiles very hard, meaning it has to get in close and use guns and hope that the Raptor does not shoot it down before then. In the case of an enemy fighter managing to guide a missile to the Raptor, the Raptor has flares and chaff to confuse the missile. As dogfights very rarely happen nowadays, being able to win in a BVR (Beyond Visual Range) air fight is very important. The Raptor can do this very effectively. Also, the F-22 could be used along with B-2 Spirit stealth bombers to provide an almost invisible strike force.

Another advantage is thrust vectoring. The nozzles at the back of the Raptor direct the thrust from the Pratt and Whitney jet engines up or down, to give the Raptor extra manoeuvrability. The pilot does not have control over the nozzles or any control surface. The plane is aerodynamically unstable, so computers are needed to interpret the pilot’s commands and then move the control surfaces and nozzles in complicated ways, which a pilot could never do, to perform the action. The F-22 can also withstand 9G for long periods of time. In the event of a close fight, the F-22 also has a number of advantages over many other fighters.

But does all this mean that the F-22 is the best? It seems that no other fighter has all the advantages that the Raptor has, so it looks like that, in an air-to-air fight, the Raptor would most likely win. But this is not the only thing that air forces around the world need. The Eurofighter Typhoon equips the British, German, Italian and Spanish air forces, which are the countries involved in the building of the Typhoon. 72 were also sold to Saudi Arabia. The Typhoon can do almost all that the F-22 can, with the exception of stealth and thrust vectoring. The Eurofighter is slightly stealthy, but not as stealthy as the Raptor. However, the Eurofighter seems to be very good at air-to-air combat (though perhaps not as good as the Raptor) as it is very manoeuvrable, due to the high degree of aerodynamic unstableness. It can also supercruise and is slightly stealthy. But not only this, it is also perhaps better suited to ground attack than the Raptor and is much cheaper. Some might say that the Eurofighter is more cost effective. Another rival for the Raptor is the Sukhoi Su-35 Super Flanker. It is more manoeuvrable than the Raptor, with thrust vectoring nozzles which not only point up and down but also left and right. It is also fairly stealthy and cheaper than the F-22. Also, the Sukhoi PAK FA, if it comes out, will be extremely similar to the Raptor, so a very dangerous rival.

Though the Raptor seems to be the best air-to-air fighter around at the moment, we must not forget how important roles such as ground attack and ground support are and that other planes might perform these other roles better. It is also likely that other similar fighters to the Raptor will come out in the near future.

MORE INFORMATION ON THE RAPTOR CAN BE VIEWED ON THE “FIGHTERS” PAGE

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2 Responses

  1. Cool! Interesting Read!
    http://simmiles.com

  2. The Raptor is my favourite aircraft!

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