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Future Weapons - The F-22 Raptor
F-22 Raptor, designed by US Lockheed Martin Corp, is a new generation of heavy stealth fighter, and a "fourth-generation fighter" according to the current Western standards (fifth generation by Russian standards, however). As an advanced air combat fighter for US Air Force, F-22 is anticipated to replace Boeing's F-15s.
With a highest unit price of more than $200 million, F-22 is the main heavy fighter of the United States in the early 21st century. It is equipped with a passive phased array radar and an active phased array radar with a wide but accurate detection range; AIM-9X Sidewinder (Aerial Intercept Missile-9X) and the BVR(Beyond Visual Range) AIM-120C Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile; two F119-PW-100 advanced afterburning fanjets with a thrust-weight ratio close to 10 and two-dimensional thrust vectoring nozzle. Its maximum takeoff weight is 27,216 kg; maximum level flight speed (supersonic cruise) is M1.58 and M1.7 after it opens afterburners at the height of 9150 m; service ceiling is 15,240 m; max speed is 1482 km/h at sea level.
The dual-tail dual-jet single-seat F-22, has its tails tilted 27 ...
... degrees outside, inlet ports hidden under the front edges of the wings, which are infrared suppressed as same as the nozzles. The main wings and horizontal stabilizers are trapezoids of small aspect ratio with a same sweepback and sweepforward at the trailing edges, and coated with special materials to absorb radar wave. All weapons are hidden in four internal bomb bays.
On September 29 1990, YF-22 took off for its maiden test flight. As the world's first fourth generation fighters in service, F-22 marked the aviation history. Since it came out, it has been paid high attention by the world, and expected by many aviation enthusiasts, the Pentagon and the Air Force. The US military hopes that it will completely overwhelm the Su-27, Mig-29 and their improved series to maintain its air superiority in the early twenty-first century. At the same time, F-22 has become a model of fourth-generation fighter, its main performance (such as full stealth, supersonic cruise, ultra mobile, ultra-horizon strike capability, thrust vector, easy maintenance, short take off and landing, highly informationized, etc.) has become a recognized measure of fourth-generation fighter. Many believe F-22 marked an invisible time of Air Force since it is on active duty.
As an extremely advanced fighter, however, the Raptor has been delayed or even rejected for it is too expensive, complex to manufacture, difficult to repair and maintain, hard to ensure security, and limited bomb load. In addition, its ground attack capability is not equal to A-10 striker, making it difficult to cruise in the Middle East. Therefore, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has decided to cancel the production schedule, and said the Raptor was a product of the Cold War, and is not substantially improvable today. In peacetime today, the Raptor is still a symbol but lost its way.
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