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About this Article
Written by: Ryan Goldstein
Written on: December 1st, 2011
Tags: aerospace engineering, material science, mechanical engineering, physics, security & defense
Thumbnail by: USAF Photo by Master Sgt. Michael Ammons
About the Author
Ryan is a junior majoring in Mechanical Engineering at USC.
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Volume XIV Issue II > Stealth Characteristics of the F-22 Raptor
The F-22 Raptor was developed by Lockheed Martin in partnership with Boeing. Though initially developed to serve as an air superiority fighter, which meant that it would take control of enemy airspace and destroy any opposition, it has developed into more of a multi-role vehicle. The F-22 is an overwhelming vehicle with capabilities that enable it to perform air-to-air and air-to-ground missions. This meant that it is not only an aerial fighter, but it could also protect and serve troops on the ground. The unique blend of speed, agility, awareness, and precision is what gives this aircraft its dominance, but what truly separates it from the pack is its stealth, otherwise known as low observables. There have been many aircraft that demonstrate stealth, but none do it as well as the F-22, while simultaneously keeping fighter agility at its core. This incredible blend is achieved through three fundamental techniques: shape, material, and surface finishing.

Introduction

Since World War I, aircraft have played a large role in warfare. These incredible engineering marvels have dominated the skies for nearly 100 years and in this relatively short amount of time, have evolved to a point that could not have possibly been imagined by the pioneers of early aircraft design. From linen covered wood frames held together by wires to current vehicles with advanced composite and metal structures, these beasts of the sky have become the pivotal components of any successful military operation. Aircraft are used in modern warfare for transport of vehicles and supplies, reconnaissance, air support, and aerial combat. Nothing demonstrates these qualities better than the F-22 Raptor of the United States Air Force.
Rob Shenk/F-22 Raptor
Figure 1: The F-22 Raptor was developed through a collaboration between Lockheed Martin and Boeing.
The F-22 Raptor was developed by Lockheed Martin in partnership with The Boeing Company (see Fig. 1). Developed as a next-generation fighter for the US Air Force, this aircraft features unparalleled maneuverability and speed. The initial purpose of this vehicle was to serve as an air superiority fighter, which meant that it would take control of enemy airspace and destroy any opposition. However, it has developed into more of a multi-role vehicle. The F-22 is a vehicle with capabilities that enable it to perform air-to-air and air-to-ground missions. This means that it is not only an aerial fighter, but can also protect and serve the troops on the ground. The unique blend of speed, agility, awareness, and precision is what gives this aircraft its dominance, but what truly separates it from the pack is its stealth, otherwise known as low observables [1]. There have been many aircraft that demonstrate stealth, but few have the same aerial agility that this aircraft displays.