How F/A-22 Raptors Work

What is the F/A-22 Raptor?

YF-22 Prototype
Photo courtesy DOD/Air Force Flight Test Center


The F/A-22 is the world's first stealth air-to-air fighter, designed to be unseen at long range and deadly in close-in air combat. It can also strike ground targets with precision accuracy. Its design gives pilots unmatched maneuverability in the air.


­The F/A-22 was originally designed to replace the F-15 Eagle. Because of the Eagle's versatility, the rising cost of developing the F/A-22 and the changing world scene, the Raptor now supplements the F-15 instead of replacing it. When the F/A-22 program began in the early 1980s, the Air Force wanted a fighter to counter the threat from the Soviet Union. Since the end of the Cold War, the need for an air-superiority fighter has fallen: Pentagon war planners expect future conflicts to be fought against enemies with small air forces or none at all.

F/A-22 Specifications

  • Primary Function: Fighter, air-dominance
  • Wingspan: 44 feet 6 inches (13.5 meters)
  • Length:62 feet 1 inch (18.9 meters)
  • Height:16 feet 5 inches (5 meters)
  • Powerplant:Two Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 engines capable of supercruise and thrust vectoring
  • Speed: Mach 1.8 (supercruise: Mach 1.5)

Three of America's largest defense contractors -- Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Pratt & Whitney -- joined together to develop and produce the F/A-22.

In the following sections, we'll learn more about the technology that makes the F/A-22 the best fighter in the skies.