Military Aviation

SOME QUICK FACTS ABOUT THE YF-22A, THE LOCKHEED MARTIN’s DESIGN FOR THE ATF COMPETITION

The YF-22A was Lockheed Martin’s design for the ATF Competition for the USAF where it was picked over its competitor, the Nothrop YF-23A

The interesting photo in this post shows F-22 less known older brother, the YF-22A. Actually the YF-22A was the Raptor’s technology demonstrator. This fighter in fact was Lockheed Martin’s design for the Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) Competition for the U.S. Air Force (USAF) where it was picked over its competitor, the Nothrop YF-23A.

As we have already explained the origins of the ATF program trace back to late 1970s, when a new generation of Soviet fighters and Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAMs) prompted the USAF to find a replacement for the F-15 Eagle air superiority fighter.

The Advanced Tactical Fighter entered the Demonstration and Validation phase in 1986. The prototype aircraft (YF-22A and YF-23A) both completed their first flights in late 1990.

The extensive flight tests conducted demonstrated that the YF-23A (named Black Widow II) was stealthier and faster while the YF-22A (named Lightning II) was more agile.

This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F-22A Raptor 192nd Fighter Wing, 149th Fighter Squadron, FF/04-4082 – Langley AFB, VA – 2014

The YF-23A, emphasized stealth characteristics: in fact to lessen weight and increase stealth, Northrop decided against using thrust vectoring for aerodynamic control as was used on the Lockheed YF-22A. Northrop built two YF-23A prototypes.

Eventually the YF-22A was selected as best of the two and the engineering and manufacturing development effort began in 1991 with the development contract assigned to Lockheed/Boeing.

The aircraft received approval to enter low rate initial production (LRIP) in 2001. Initial operational and test evaluation by the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center was successfully completed in 2004. Based on maturity of design and other factors the program received approval for full rate production in 2005 and today the F-22A Raptor is USAF’s air dominance fighter.

The F-22A was introduced Dec. 15, 2005, and a total of 187 operational aircraft were built. The last Raptor was delivered to the Air Force in 2012.

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force

Artwork courtesy of AircraftProfilePrints.com

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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