How do you showcase the capability of a fighter best known for stealth, speed and sensors? And how does an aircraft designed to evade radar, supercruise above Mach 1.5 and fly at 65,000ft (20,000m) perform on the air show circuit?
The answer is to be seen in the US Air Force flight demonstration now wowing audiences at North American air shows, and which is changing attitudes towards the F-22. You can view a video of the Raptor display at Flight International's website, www.flightglobal.com.
With its two Pratt & Whitney F119 engines capable of vectoring their 35,000lb (156kN) of afterburning thrust through ±20º as an integral part of the flight-control system, the F-22 proves itself to be surprisingly agile, performing helicopter turns, tailsides, backflips and, soon, cobras.
Lockheed Martin is now talking about the F-22's "super-aero" capability, a term coined to describe its combination of agility, acceleration, and ability to cruise supersonically without reheat and "fly higher than any adversary", says Larry Lawson, programme general manager. "It is less talked about, and more difficult to comprehend, but the value of the aerodynamic performance of the aircraft is incredible," he says.
Super-aero "provides the ability to control the airspace", Lawson says. "The aircraft has an incredible ability to see, engage and disengage at will," he adds. The three legs of the F-22's capability - stealth, the situational awareness provided by onboard and offboard sensor fusion, and super-aero - are "why the Raptor gets the exchange ratios it is getting", Lawson says. "There are no leakers. The F-22 has the ability to re-engage and defeat them before they can engage."
Source: Flight International