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F-22 Raptor

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Originally proposed as a pure air superiority fighter, versions of the stealthy F-22 Raptor are being planned for attack, electronic intelligence and electronic warfare. A "fifth generation" fighter, it is extremely maneuverable, has "supercruise" to allow supersonic flight without an afterburner, and has a higher operational ceiling than most aircraft.

It is an expensive aircraft. In April 2009, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced his intention to stop production after the current run of 187 aircraft; final decisions will come with the Congressional approval of the Defense Department bdget.

It will replace the F-15 Eagle and F-15E Strike Eagle at the "high" end of the high/low fighter mix; it will be complemented by the Air Force version of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the F-35A Lightning II.

While it was originally intended for air superiority only, it now has a deep strike capability. Its especially high operational ceiling, as well as supercruise, allow it to release guided bombs such as the Joint Direct Action Munition, and hit targets at longer range than from any other aircraft. High-altitude release gives more gravitational energy, while a fast drop speed gives more forward momentum; the two combine to loft the bomb much farther.

The F-22 has advanced electronics, especially its Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA), the AN/APG-77. Since the F-22 is designed to be stealthy, its radar is designed for low probability of intercept.

The F-22 is outfitted with vectored thrust which allows the pilot to change the angle of the exhaust nozzle of the aircraft. This provides for an extreme increase in maneuverability (vertically). The F-22 has 2D vectored thrust which is why it experiences increased maneuverability vertically; whereas, Russia has designed several fighter aircraft with 3D vectored thrust. In these implementations the pilot is able to change the angle of the nozzle vertically and horizontally. This increased maneuverability provides a unique advantage in close-in dogfighting where the aircraft with the advantage is the aircraft who is able to move slower (counter intuitive but the slower aircraft has a smaller turning radius usually).