The F-22 Raptor has long been recognised as a symbol of US Air Force superiority, combining stealth, speed, agility and advanced avionics to make it one of the most formidable fighters in the skies. Its production began in the early 1990s after Lockheed Martin and Boeing were awarded the contract to develop the aircraft. Lockheed led its design and manufacture, while Boeing focused on avionics, wings, and training systems. The first prototype, known as the YF-22, took to the skies in 1990, and it was formally designated as the F-22 Raptor in 1997.
The fighter’s production timeline spans from 1996 to 2011, with 195 units built, including eight test and 187 operational aircraft. At the peak of production, the aircraft cost approximately $150 million per unit. However, due to budget constraints and shifting priorities, the US stopped production in favour of the more versatile and cost-effective F-35 Lightning II.
One of the most notable features of the F-22 is its stealth technology, which enables it to evade enemy radar systems. This is achieved through a combination of advanced materials, radar-absorbent coatings, and the aircraft’s distinctive shape. In addition, the F-22’s advanced avionics systems allow it to process vast amounts of data, providing pilots with unrivalled situational awareness and decision-making support.
Another key aspect of its success is its exceptional performance capabilities. The aircraft is powered by two Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 engines, providing a top speed of over Mach 2 and a supercruise capability to maintain supersonic speeds without afterburners. This, combined with its advanced flight control system, makes the F-22 highly manoeuvrable and agile, even at supersonic speeds.
The F-22 Raptor – everything you need to know:
- Developed by Lockheed Martin and Boeing;
- Advanced fifth-generation fighter aircraft;
- Combines stealth, speed, agility, and advanced avionics;
- First prototype (YF-22) flown in 1990;
- Officially designated as F-22 Raptor in 1997;
- Production timeline: 1996-2011;
- Total units built: 195 (8 test, 187 operational);
- Unit cost: approximately $150 million;
- First deployed in US Air Force in 2005;
- Primary mission: air superiority;
- Stealth technology: radar-absorbent coatings, advanced materials, unique shape;
- Powered by two Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 engines;
- Top speed: over Mach 2;
- Supercruise capability: sustained supersonic speeds without afterburners;
- Highly manoeuvrable and agile at supersonic speeds.