Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor
Caccia stealth per la superiorità aerea
|Primo volo||7 settembre 1997|
Galleria fotografica di un Lockheed F-22A Raptor, Il Lockheed Martin/Boeing F-22 Raptor è un aereo da combattimento superuovattore monoposto bimotore di quinta generazione che utilizza la tecnologia stealth.
|Lockheed F-22A Raptor|
|Lockheed F-22 Raptor Walk Around|
|F-22A Raptor Walk Around|
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The Lockheed F-22 Raptor is a fifth-generation, single-seat, twin-engine, all-weather stealth tactical fighter aircraft developed for the United States Air Force (USAF). The result of the USAF’s Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) program, the aircraft was designed primarily as an air superiority fighter, but also has ground attack, electronic warfare, and signal intelligence capabilities. The F-22 is the first operational aircraft to combine supercruise, supermaneuverability, stealth, and sensor fusion in a single platform.
The F-22’s development began in 1981 with the request for information (RFI) for the ATF program. The program aimed to produce a new air superiority fighter that could counter and defeat any potential adversary, including the Soviet Union’s new generation of fighters such as the Su-27 and MiG-29. Lockheed and Boeing teamed up to submit their proposal for the YF-22 prototype, which competed against the Northrop YF-23. The YF-22 was selected as the winner of the fly-off competition in 1991 and was awarded the contract to produce the F-22.
The F-22 entered service in December 2005 and achieved initial operational capability (IOC) in December 2007. The USAF originally planned to buy 750 F-22s, but the program was cut to 187 operational aircraft due to high costs, a lack of clear air-to-air missions due to delays in Russian and Chinese fighter programs, a ban on exports, and development of the more versatile F-35. The last F-22 was delivered in 2012.
The F-22 is powered by two Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 afterburning turbofan engines that enable it to reach speeds of over Mach 2.2 without using afterburners (supercruise). The engines also feature thrust vectoring nozzles that can direct the engine thrust up or down, giving the F-22 exceptional agility and maneuverability. The F-22 has a trapezoidal wing with a large wing area and high sweep angle, which provide high lift and low drag at supersonic speeds. The wing also incorporates leading-edge extensions (LEX) that generate vortices that enhance lift and aid in roll control.
The F-22’s stealth features include a diamond-shaped fuselage that reduces radar cross-section (RCS), radar-absorbent material (RAM) that covers most of the surface area, serrated edges and gaps that minimize radar reflections, and internal weapons bays that eliminate external stores. The F-22 also has a sophisticated avionics suite that integrates multiple sensors and systems, such as the AN/APG-77 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, the AN/AAR-56 infrared and ultraviolet missile launch detector (MLD), the AN/ALR-94 passive radar warning receiver (RWR), and the AN/ALE-55 fiber-optic towed decoy (FOTD). The F-22 can also communicate with other platforms through its multifunction advanced data link (MADL), which is compatible with the Link 16 network.
The F-22 can carry a variety of weapons for different missions. For air-to-air combat, it can carry six AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles and two AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles internally. For air-to-ground missions, it can carry two 1,000 lb (450 kg) JDAM bombs or eight 250 lb (110 kg) SDB bombs internally. It can also carry external fuel tanks or weapons on four hardpoints under the wings, but this degrades its stealth performance. The F-22 also has an internal M61A2 Vulcan 20 mm rotary cannon with 480 rounds.
The F-22 is widely regarded as the most advanced and capable fighter aircraft in the world. It has demonstrated its superiority over other fighters in numerous exercises and simulations, such as Red Flag and Northern Edge. It has also participated in several combat operations, such as Operation Inherent Resolve against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, Operation Odyssey Dawn in Libya, and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. The F-22 is expected to remain in service until at least 2060.
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