Initial Operational Capability (IOC):
Also Known As: ATF, F-22 Raptor and F-22A Raptor
Origin: United States of America
and Lockheed Martin
* (*) lead contractor
Parent System: F/A-22 Raptor
Initial Operational Capability (IOC):
Family Members: FB-22
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Description: The F/A-22 Raptor is a stealth, long-range, supersonic, multi-role fighter designed to replace the F-15 Eagle ensuring the Us Air Force Air Dominance in the first quarter of the 21st century. It will be able to fight against the most sophisticated integrated air defense networks, as well as to gain and to keep air dominance against sophisticated enemy fighter aircraft fielded or under development. The F/A-22 features two internal side bays and one center bay for weaponry. The side bays will accommodate one AIM-9X Sidewinder each. The center bay will carry up to 6 AMRAAM missiles or 2 AMRAAM and 2 JDAM bombs. A built-in 20mm M61A2 cannon will be provided for close-in air-to-air engagements. In addition, the F/A-22 would load external weaponry and fuel tanks when assured air superiority. The external loads represent to increase radar cross section and drag, as well as lower survivability and aerodynamic performance.
The F/A-22 Raptor will be the first aircraft around capable of a first-look, first-shot and first-kill. According the US Air Force, this capability will the key of air-to-air engagements in the 21st century as did the maneuverability during the past century. A sustained speed of Mach 1.5, also known as supercruise capability, will provide unprecedented combat performance than previous fighter aircraft. The life cycle costs of the F/A-22 are 40% lower than F-15. Reliability and availability have been increased compared to F-15, and maintainability will be easier. The first F/A-22 multi-role fighter wing will be placed at Langley achieving initial operational capability by December 2005. The US Air Force plans to purchase up to 381 (276 estimated to funds availability) F/A-22s through 2013 when the last aircraft will be delivered.
In early July 2004, the total Raptors ordered by the US Air Force raised to 74 aircraft through 2006 with 27 already delivered. During 2005 the US Air Force is expected to take a decision on lot 6 aircraft which includes 26 F/A-22s and to whether the Raptor is ready for high-rate production (3 aircraft/month) beginning with lot 6 during 2006. Following a Raptor crash at Nellis Air Force Base on December 20, 2004, the entire fleet was called for a safety stand down. The Raptor was taking off and exploded, thank God!, the pilot was ejected safely and suffered no serious injuries. The aircraft was assigned to 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron at Nellis AFB, Nevada. As of December 2004, the F/A-22 program had logged more than 7,000 flight hours and the US Air Force plans were to purchase up to 277 airplanes. The Raptor fleet resumed flight testing on 6 January 2005.
The US Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center (AFOTEC) at Kirkland Air Force Base, New Mexico, released that the F/A-22A Raptor passed initial operational test and evaluation on February 1, 2005. Four key issues were assessed by AFOTEC: lethality, survivability, deployability and maintainability. The aircraft was labeled 'overwhelmingly effective' in simulated combat scenarios, but AFOTEC raised some concerns on deployability and maintainability. Four Raptors were involved during the testing conducted primarily at Nevada Test and Training Range. Nevertheless, Raptor was expected to reach initial operational capability (IOC) in December 2005.
Lockheed-Martin was awarded a $414 million contract funding F/A-22 Lot 6 production advanced buy for 24 aircraft and associated equipment on February 18, 2005. In April 2005, the F/A-22 Raptor fighter aircraft was given the green light by Department of Defense acquisition officials to enter into full-rate production. On 29 August 2005, F/A-22 entered into Operational Test and Evaluation focusing on many areas including air-to-ground strike capability and suitability for deployment by C-17 aircraft. On 7 September 2005, Lockheed-Martin was awarded a $395 million contract modification in support of F/A-22 Lot 5 production aircraft. The contract modification issued to Lockheed-Martin covered logistics support related topics and was scheduled to complete by December 2007.
The US Air Force awarded Lockheed Martin F/A-22 Lot 5 production contract on November 9, 2005. Lot 5 contract was valued at $2.99 billion and covered production of 24 F/A-22 Raptor multi-role combat aircraft. Production work on lot 5 aircraft was scheduled to be complete November 2007. Thus far the US Air Force has contracted 107 F/A-22s, including lot 5 contract aircraft, of which 53 were already delivered by Lockheed-Martin as of November 2005. The United States Air Force officially declared the F-22A Raptor weapon system operational December 15, 2005 at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia. Following Initial Operational Capability (IOC) Raptor may be deployed anywhere in the world and conduct air-to-air and air-to-ground missions. As of December 2005, Lockheed Martin had assembled 67 F-22s and the US Air Force was holding 56 aircraft.
In March 2006 the Us Air Force made public that the third and fourth F/A-22 operational bases were going to be Holloman Air Force Base (AFB) in New Mexico and Hickam AFB in Hawaii. The USAF already selected Langley AFB, Virginia, as the first Raptor operational base and Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, as the preferred location for the second operational beddown. As of March 2006, the USAF plans for the F-22A Raptor called for procurement of 183 aircraft through to 2012. On November 1st, 2006, the US Air Force awarded Lockheed Martin a $1.23 billion modification contract supporting the F-22 lot 7 long lead procurement. Lot 7 procurement was expected to complete October 2009. The F-22A Raptor saw combat for the first time on September 23, 2014, as part of bombing operations against ISIL group in Syria.
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