April 30, 2012: The F-22 Combined Test Force Completed Its Last Test Sortie

  • Published
  • 412th Test Wing

The F-22 CTF completed its last test sortie using a six-gallon tank of salt water ingested into the engines to assess the long-term life cycle effect of soot buildup and corrosion over time on low observable (LO) surfaces.

The Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor is an American single-seat, twin-engine, all-weather stealth tactical fighter aircraft developed exclusively for the United States Air Force (USAF). The result of the USAF's Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) program, the aircraft was designed primarily as an air superiority fighter, but also has ground attack, electronic warfare, and signal intelligence capabilities. The prime contractor, Lockheed Martin, built most of the F-22's airframe and weapons systems and conducted final assembly, while Boeing provided the wings, aft fuselage, avionics integration, and training systems.  The aircraft was variously designated F-22 and F/A-22 before it formally entered service in December 2005 as the F-22A. Despite its protracted development and various operational issues, USAF officials consider the F-22 a critical component of the service's tactical air power. Its combination of stealth, aerodynamic performance, and avionics systems enable unprecedented air combat capabilities

Stealth technology, also termed low observable technology (LO technology), is a sub-discipline of military tactics and passive and active electronic countermeasures, which covers a range of methods used to make personnel, aircraft, ships, submarines, missiles, satellites, and ground vehicles less visible (ideally invisible) to radar, infrared, sonar and other detection methods. It corresponds to military camouflage for these parts of the electromagnetic spectrum (i.e., multi-spectral camouflage).  Development of modern stealth technologies in the United States began in 1958, where earlier attempts to prevent radar tracking of its U-2 spy planes during the Cold War by the Soviet Union had been unsuccessful.   Designers turned to developing a specific shape for planes that tended to reduce detection by redirecting electromagnetic radiation waves from radars.  Radiation-absorbent material was also tested and made to reduce or block radar signals that reflect off the surfaces of aircraft. Such changes to shape and surface composition comprise stealth technology as currently used on the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit "Stealth Bomber"