In 1981 the United States Air Force (USAF) developed a requirement for a new air superiority fighter, the Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF), to replace the capability of the F-15 Eagle,
primarily the F-15A, B, C and D variants. ATF was a demonstration and
validation program undertaken by the USAF to develop a next-generation
air superiority fighter to counter emerging worldwide threats,
including development and proliferation of Soviet-era Su-27 "Flanker"-class fighter aircraft. It was envisioned that the ATF would incorporate emerging technologies including advanced alloys and composite materials, advanced fly-by-wire flight control systems, higher power propulsion systems, and low-observable/stealth technology.
A request for proposal (RFP) was issued in July 1986, and two contractor teams, Lockheed/Boeing/General Dynamics and Northrop/McDonnell Douglas
were selected in October 1986 to undertake a 50-month
demonstration/validation phase, culminating in the flight test of two
prototypes, the YF-22 and the YF-23, respectively.
During the development process in late 1980s, expected growth the
ATF's increasing takeoff weight and cost drove out many features. IRST was downgraded from multi-color to single color then deleted, the side looking radars were deleted and the ejection seat requirement was downgraded so as to not be able to cover the full flight envelope, which would later result in a fatality during flight testing.
On 23 April 1991 the USAF ended the design and test flight
competition by announcing Lockheed's YF-22 as the winner. It was
anticipated at the time that 650 aircraft would be ordered.
The first operational F-22 Raptor is painted at the Lockheed Martin assembly plant at Marietta, Georgia
The YF-22 was modified for the production F-22. The differences between the YF-22 and the F-22 include relocation of cockpit, structural changes, and many other smaller changes.
The production F-22 model was unveiled on 9 April 1997 at Lockheed Georgia Co., Marietta, Georgia. It first flew on 7 September 1997.
The first production F-22 was delivered to Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada,
on 14 January 2003 and "Dedicated Initial Operational Test and
Evaluation" commenced on 27 October 2003. By 2004, 51 Raptors had been
In 2006, the Raptor's development team, composed of Lockheed Martin and over 1,000 other companies, plus the United States Air Force, won the Collier Trophy, American aviation's most prestigious award.
The U.S. Air Force in 2006 sought to acquire 381 F-22s to be divided
among seven active duty combat squadrons, and three integrated Air Force Reserve Command and Air National Guard fighter squadrons.
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