Ever watch the popular movie Top Gun, starring Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer? It’s a thrilling movie that showcases what military jets can do. If you love to know more about jets, then you are in the right place! This time around, we’re going to be specifically discussing the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor Jet.
You may have seen this kind of jet in blockbuster movies. But do you know that the F-22 Raptor is one of the best aircraft jets that the world has seen? Since its launch, the Raptor has been breaking a lot of records and used in some of the most memorable combat missions. The F-22 Raptor is truly the USA’s pride and glory! Let’s dig some fun facts about the famous jet and find out why this particular jet deserves to earn that title.
1. Lockheed Martin… and Boeing!
Most of you know that Lockheed Martin is the primary contractor of this iconic jet. Their name is even included as part of the jet’s complete name. However, Boeing also takes part in assembling the F-22 Raptor. They contribute a lot to the development of the jet. It is said that Boeing helped in the assembly of the wings, aft fuselage, avionics integration, and training systems. Lockheed Martin, on the other hand, is responsible for the airframe and weapon systems. As an addition, Boeing also provides onsite support to ensure mission-readiness.
2. A Hollywood Star
There are a lot of movies that heavily used fighter jets. We have mentioned Top Gun as a general example. Even though Top Gun is an 80s movie, you might be surprised to learn that F-22 Raptors is the first jet that has a featured speaking role in a 2000s movie. if you haven’t guessed the movie yet, we’ll help nudge you to the right path: it’s a movie about transforming vehicles (easy, right?!). Consequently, Transformers is the first Hollywood movie to feature real-life F-22 Raptors. Previously, all versions of the jet that appear in the movie are made using computer-generated animations. The F-22 Raptors made its second major appearance in the Marvel movie Iron Man.
3. Roll Rates of the Weapon is Very Astonishing
As a fifth-generation fighter jet, it comes to surprise that the F-22 Raptor jets are equipped with advanced weapons. This jet carries six AIM-120C and two AIM-9 missiles for air-to-air combat. But for the air-to-ground role, an F-22 Raptor also stores other kinds of cool missiles and weapon systems like the 1,000 pounds Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM). It is also worth noting that there is an M61A2 cannon implanted inside the jet. It is able to fire ammunition at a rate of 100 rounds a second! Truly a state-of-the-art weapon technology.
4. A True Heavyweight Champion
We have just mentioned about the packed weapons stored inside the legendary jet. But it is really interesting to know that this fifth-generation fighter jet are able to store much more than its predecessor. For your information, the F-35 jets are able to carry around 5,700 pounds of internal weapons and missiles for stealth mode. The F-22 Raptors has an internal bay that is able to carry 2,000 pounds of missiles, as well as four external hardpoints that can be stored with weapons and inventory, each clocking at 5,000 pounds.
5. Unique Cockpit and Overall Design
The F-22 Raptor has a unique design that is eye-catching. For normal people, the F-22 Raptor may look just as similar as other kinds of jet. However, military enthusiasts will immediately spot the difference. One of its most telling differences is the unique canopy from the jet’s design. Most F-22s also appear to have an orange canopy. That is the result of the compositions for the material used to reflect radar waves.
Additionally, you also might have noticed that the F-22 Raptor only has a single seat. Normally, fighter jets require two pilots to fly them. The F-22 also has an “all-weather” capability which allows them to easily cruise through different kinds of situations.
6. USA Exclusive!
You probably would have known that the F-22 Raptor can only be found in the United States military. This cool jet is not available for sale, and other nations can only imagine having it. But you might not know the reason behind the decision. The answer is actually straight up simple: the USA is afraid that the stealth technology of the F-22 Raptor falls to other countries.
The F-22 Raptor is the most expensive jet assembled to date, and it explains the reason why they are not eager to share intel for the stealth technology. For the record, countries like Israel and Japan are really interested in buying the F-22 jets from the USA.
7. Is It Really Stealthy?
The United States is so adamant to protect the stealth technology implanted in the F-22 Raptor. But how does the technology apply and confuse radars? If you have a chance to look at the blueprint for the F-22 jet, you’ll notice that it has a unique angular shape as well as surface shapes that curve with changing radii. These curves are the main reason that confuses radar. The vertical fins of the jet also help in concealing internal antennas and remaining invisible. If the jet appears on a radar, it won’t be any bigger than a bumblebee!
8. It’s About Damn Time
The F-22 Raptor jets have been assembled and launched since the late 90s. Since its first flight in 1997, the jet has been used for various occasions. But it is interesting to learn that the jet hasn’t seen a combat mission until 2014. Prior to this mission, the F-22 Raptor still underwent a lot of modification and repair.
They even had a couple of chances prior to 2014 to participate in Iraq and Afghanistan operations, but the military deemed them as unnecessary at the moment. The taxpayer, however, will be glad to learn that the first mission to attack ISIS in 2014 was an instant success.
9. No Variants Please…
For an expensive and high-tech jet, it seems to be a no-brainer to develop some variants of the jet for various uses. Soon after the launch of the Raptor, Lockheed Martin began the research and made a proposal to develop a new variant of the F-22. As a result, the FB-22 Bomber jet comes to their mind. The bomber jet will use most of the material and design used in the F-22 Raptor to reduce manufacturing costs.
Unfortunately, the result is not as sweet as imagined. Although the premise is great, the Department of Defense eventually had to scramble the project as they envisioned a better bomber with greater range. Such a cool idea wasted, right?
10. Still Got the Blues
Fighter jets are like athletes. All of them have a lifespan. The older they get, the bigger the chance that they get eclipsed by newcomers. But special jets defy that rule. Just take a look at superstars like LeBron James and Cristiano Ronaldo. They still rock the sports they play for, despite their old age.
For the F-22 Raptor, one of the key factors that people notice is the kill ratio in practice events. Previously, they were able to score a ratio of 108:1 in the Northern Edge event held in 2006. In the latest Red Flag outing, the F-22 Raptor is able to score a kill ratio of 241:2, eclipsing the F-35 jet.
11. High Maintenance
We have mentioned before that the F-22 Raptor is one of the most expensive jets to be made. You may wonder: how much money to be exact? The answer to that question comes in many different ways. For the unit cost alone, the F-22 Raptor costs the United States $137 million per unit. But if you want to add the cost of upgrading material and further development, it will rise to $377 million per unit.
You must also remember to add the maintenance cost to ensure the F-22’s whole lifecycle. The government has estimated a total amount of $59 billion as costs until the F-22 jets eventually retire. In total, it will cost a large amount of $678 million for just one F-22 Raptor unit!
Despite its advanced technology and its lack of involvement in real combat missions, the United States decided to halt the production of the Raptors. It really seems like a huge waste, especially if you also take the cost to make an F-22 as a consideration. So, what are the reasons that drove the USA to make that decision?
Perhaps the high maintenance cost to keep the F-22 fit is one of the main reasons. As a comparison, the F-35 only needs around $157 million per unit. But the biggest reason behind the cancellation came from then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. He said that F-22s are cold war relics and that they haven’t seen much battle either. It seems unnecessary to continue production for the jets.
13. Gone, But Not Forgotten
The production for the F-22 Raptors is canceled, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the existing fighter jets won’t be used anymore. In fact, the military has gone on to start the maintenance process to keep the Raptors fresh. It is estimated that the maintenance can help add 8,000 hours for the jet’s lifespan. In the meantime, they are also starting the process of developing sixth-generation fighter jets.