Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor
The Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor is the best ground breaking fighter currently in existence. Air Marshal Angus Houston, former chief of the Australian Defense Force, said in 2004 that the “F-22 will be the most outstanding fighter plane ever built. Every fighter pilot in the Air Force would dearly love to be in the seat of an F-22”.
USAF’s Advanced Tactical Fighter Program
The Lockheed Martin F-22 is a single seat, twin engine, all weather, stealth tactical fighter aircraft developed for the United States Air Force (USAF) which can survive both airborne and ground based threats. F-22 Raptor is the world’s premier 5th generation fighter.
The result of the USAF’s Advanced Tactical Fighter Program, the aircraft was designed primarily as an air superiority fighter, but has additional capabilities, including ground attack, electronic warfare, and signals intelligence roles.
Lockheed Martin and Boeing are in charge of the F-22 Raptor, However, the main contractor responsible for the airframe, weapon system and the final assembly is Lockheed Martin while Boeing was responsible for the wing and rear fuselage assembly.
The F-22 is also a multi-mission fighter, thereby making the other generations of obsolete type. It was to replace the aging Douglas/Boeing F-15 Eagle series of air superiority/multi role fighters in an effort to meet the then current and any proposed future threats as part of the Global Strike Task Force.
Although she has been faced with some technological issues, nevertheless, her potency cannot be questioned. From the outset, the F-22 was designed to be the most technologically advanced airborne war fighter anywhere in the world.
It is conceived to handle no current enemy threat in the air and including ground attacks from competing nations through it multi-mission capabilities which include intelligence gathering, surveillance, reconnaissance and electronic attack.
Fifth Generation Fighter
These magnificent improvements gave birth to the new classification of “Fifth Generation” fighter, which was an added advantage over the global competition; however, the Chinese and Russians are also still trying to beat this invention.
This revolutionary standard brought by the F-22 is seen as an end-product that was built for threat that did not exist- in essence. Thereby, creating unnecessary expenses that was not needed for the time. It is not to be doubted that the F-22 with its revolutionary conception brought with it an all-new age of military-minded aviation, perhaps the greatest advancement of its time.
The USAF considers the F-22 a critical component of its tactical air power, and states that the aircraft is unmatched by any known or projected fighter.
End of Production
The Raptor’s combination of stealth, aerodynamics, performance, and situational awareness gives the aircraft unprecedented air-to-air capabilities. However, there has been an and to the production of F-22 due to several reasons which include: lack of air-to-air missions, high cost, and a ban of export, to mention but a few.
The last F-22 was delivered to the USAF in 2012, completing the world’s only operational 5th Generation fleet. Nevertheless, there is need for the production of more F-22 Raptors, it is said that without sufficient numbers of F-22 raptors, the United States military will soon lose the conventional strategic advantage it has enjoyed since 1945.