Back in 1982, the Soviet Union introduced the Su-27 Flanker, which matched the US F-15’s performance. America, as per, doesn’t want a equal fight, the Air force wanted a successor for the F-15. The Advanced Tactical Fighter project commenced in 1984, aimed to produce a fighter to incorporate fresh technologies, such as stealth, composite materials like carbon fibre, and the capability to cruise at supersonic speeds.
The YF-23 prototype, nicknamed the Black Widow presented by the Northrop Corporation was a radical design, with a V shaped tail and diamond wings. It was more furtive and more expeditious than the F-22, but this UFO of a prototype was visually perceived as extemporaneous for mass production.
Lockheed Martin’s YF-22 Raptor prototype was much more conventional. It is basically a better F-15 (precisely what the Air force asked) More importantly the YF-22’s engine was ready for production at the time, and it fired a few missiles during testing to impress Washington.
The engine that powered the F-22 was build well before F-22s went to production, something America definitely did correctly. Each Pratt and Whitney F-119 engines made 157.5 kilonewtons of thrust, and a pair of these engines could easily push the 64,000 pound F-22 vertically. The Raptor reaches a top speed of Mach 2.5, and it’s cruise speed is around Mach 1.6, about twice as high as the Su-27.
Equipped with an AN/APG-71 Solid-state AESA radar, a Raptor could spot 26 MiG-29 sized targets from more than 270kM away and assail six targets simultaneously. Six AIM-120C Missiles are carried within the centre weapons bay, guided by the Raptor’s radar at launch and by their own radar afterwards, they could kill a MiG from 90kM away. If the enemy got too close, then a pair of Sidewinder missiles could be utilised for dogfighting. Each side weapons bay carries a rail-loaded AIM-9 sidewinder with a range of about 25km. F-22s additionally has a 20mm cannon and a 400 round drum to tear anything apart. The cockpit canopy is also coated in 24K gold to reflect radar/radio waves.
Production of the F-22 ceased in 2008 after only 187 out of 700 aircrafts were built. Partially because the collapse of the USSR, and partially because the Pentagon thought the F-35 was going to be cheaper. More infuriating is the fact that the F-22 lost an abundance of it’s original/planned features. It has no side-looking radar, no infrared sensor. It doesn’t even have what some MiG-23 and J-10 have, a helmet mounted sight to aim it’s missiles.