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F-22 Raptor News

New F-22 Raptor performance statistics released

February 13, 2009 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Hoping to win support for F-22 production beyond the current 183 aircraft, Lockheed Martin has revealed performance statistics that exceed baseline requirements established by the Air Force.

Two USAF F-22 Raptors fly over Kadena AB on January 15th, 2009. [USAF photo by SrA. Clay Lancaster]

Repeating from a statement from November, 2005, the company says that the F-22s over-performance includes a radar cross section that is "better" than was contracted for. That classified requirement has been calculated at a -40 dBsm, about the size of a steel marble. By contrast, the F-35 is thought to be a -30 dBsm, the size of a golf ball.

Supercruise is at Mach 1.78 rather than Mach 1.5. And acceleration – although company officials would not say from what speed or at what altitude – is 3.05 seconds quicker than the requirement of 54 seconds.

In full military power (no afterburner) the Raptor can operate at just more than 50,000 feet. However, it is known that the F-22 opened its aerial battles at about 65,000 feet during its first joint exercise in Alaska, apparently using its afterburner.

The Northrop-Grumman/Raytheon active electronically-scanned array (AESA) radar also turns out to have a longer effective range of about 210 kilometers, versus a 200 on the official spec sheet. That means a cushion of an additional 10 kilometers (5-6 miles) of detection range against enemy aircraft and missile during which it can get into position for a decisive first shot..

This information was being released as the U.S. Air Force makes a pitch to delay some F-35 production in order to build more F-22s. The air force generals point out that the first 500 or so F-35s will cost $200 million each (without taking R&D into account), while F-22s only cost $145 million each (without taking R&D into account). The construction cost of the F-35 will eventually go to about $100 million each as more are produced.

The operational arguments focus on combat effectiveness against top foreign fighter aircraft such as the Russian Su-27 and MiG-29. Lockheed Martin and USAF analysts put the loss-exchange ratio at 30-1 for the F-22, 3-1 for the F-35 and 1-1 or less for the F-15, F/A-18 and F-16. Many F-15 and F-16 pilots would of course dispute the latter.

Russian opinions of the F-22's capabilities vary from awestruck to dismissive, according to a Jan. 26 article in Pravda.

Additional images:

USAF F-22A block 30 no. 06-4127 from the 525th FS is about to touch down on runway 03L at Nellis AFB on February 4th, 2009. [Photo by EOR]

Two USAF F-22 block 20 Raptors no. 03-4058 & no. 04-4082 park at the end of the awaiting a check before a mission on January 16th, 2009 at Kadena AB. The Raptors are deployed from the 27th & 94th FS based at Langley AFB. [USAF photo by MSgt. Andy Dunaway]

SrA. Chad Eichmeier, weapons three man jammer driver, drives a jammer before loading a missle onto F-22A block 30 no. 05-4105 on January 15th, 2009 at Holloman AFB. Airmen and pilots gear up for their upcoming exercise 'Red Flag' at Nellis AFB starting around the end of January. [USAF photo by SrA. Anthony Nelson Jr]