advanced tactical fighter


     Growing up, I was a Lockheed kid. My grandfather, who took a hand in raising me, was a Skunk Works engineer through the golden age of black spy planes and stealth technology. I was born in Marietta, Georgia, just up the road from the historic Lockheed plant. I was not yet five years old when I’d formed the biased opinion that Lockheed’s YF-22 prototypes were the coolest, most fantastic thing in the sky, and the Northrop YF-23 prototypes were lumpy, funny looking attempts at fighter jets, the likes of which could surely never compete with the product of my grandpa’s company. I knew that the two aircraft had battled it out in a prototyping competition flyoff. Lockheed’s YF-22 had won, which was no surprise to me, in my young mind. One morning, my parents informed me that our Lockheed Marietta Plant had won the contract to build the F-22 production model right there in my hometown. We drove by the plant and saw local news media crews enthusiastically broadcasting live, surely proud that so much work was coming to the area. On September 7, 1997, I stood on the flightline with my grandfather at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, and watched the first flight of the first F-22 production model. I was in awe, so proud of my grandpa’s company, and happy that they’d beat Northrop.

     Decades later, I’m now able to face the world armed with more equanimity, and I’ve formed a more objective opinion of the Northrop YF-23. Only now, can I understand what an incredible aircraft the YF-23 is, and how close we were to losing that contract. This opinion was reinforced when I finally saw a Northrop YF-23 in person. My first experience with the bird happened on September 9, 2014, at the Western Museum of Flight in Torrance, California. To see her, I had to be escorted across the Torrance Airport flight line, to an area cordoned off for restoration work, where this bird is half way through with receiving a new coat of paint. When I rounded a corner and I first laid eyes on the her, I was awestruck. The stealthy, triolithic profile of the aircraft was distinctly Northrop, reminiscent of their B-2. The aircraft seemed to change shape as you walked around it.

    Photographing up close was thrilling because there were only two ever built, and they were bathed in secrecy for so long. This was the second prototype built, called 87-0801 PAV-II. Many performance aspects of the aircraft are unknown, but we do know that this prototype, with the GE YF120 engine, was the fastest of the four aircraft that competed in the Advanced Tactical Fighter Flyoff. Her top speed is still classified, but it is widely speculated that she could fly faster than Mach two. She was the stealthiest aircraft involved in the prototyping program, but not quite as agile as the YF-22, which may have led to her downfall.

     To truly understand the world of aviation, you must look at things objectively. I certainly found a new respect for the YF-23, even with my Lockheed roots. The YF-23 is one of the most incredible flying machines ever conceived.


Photo series #7

This photo series will bring a well known fighter jet, the fifth generation, twin engine, air superiority, stealth fighter, the Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor.

Developed from the YF-22, the USAFs ATF (Advanced Tactical Fighter) program winner, the Raptor is one of the most modern fighter jets in the world, although it was primarily designed for air superiority and as a replacement for the F-15, it also has ground attack, eletronic warfare and SIGINT (Signal Intelligence) capabilities.

Because of a series of high costs and lack of missions for it’s intended role, production has ended in 2011 and the last F-22 was delivered in 2012.

The first combat sortie of this fighter jet happened in September 22nd, 2014 when F-22s dropped 1000lb GPS guided bombs on Islamic State targets, in June 2015, it performed the first CAS (Close Air Support) of the aircraft. Although combat sorties are still somewhat slim, the F-22 has had an increase number of missions for ISR ( intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) gathering during it deployment to the Middle East.

Here are some of it’s specifications:

Engines: Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 turbofans with thrust vectoring in the pitch axis (up and down)


 1 x 20mm  M61A2 Vulcan

For AA (Air to Air) missions:

6 x AIM-120 AMRAAM

2 x AIM-9 Sidewinder

For AG (Air to Ground) missions:

2 x 1000lb JDAM or 8 x 250lb GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs

2 x AIM-9 Sidewinder

2 x AIM-120 AMRAAM

It also has 4 under-wing pylons for drop tanks or weapons with a capacity of 5000lb.

Now of all of this is controlled by an AN/APG-77 radar with an AN/AAR-56 Missile Launch Detector, AN/ALR-94 Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) and a MJU-39/40 flare countermeasures.

And that’s it for this photo series, don’t forget to like, reblog and follow, there is a new photo series every wednesday and sunday.

If you have any suggestions, contributions or want to send a complete photo series, don’t be shy, send them to me and i’ll upload them!


The Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor is a single-seat, twin-engine, all weather stealth tactical fighter aircraft developed for the United States Air Force (USAF). The result of the USAF’s Advanced Tactical Fighter program, the aircraft was designed primarily as an air superiority fighter, but has additional capabilities including ground attack, electronic warfare, and signals intelligence roles. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor and was responsible for the majority of the airframe, weapon systems, and final assembly of the F-22, while program partner Boeing provided the wings, aft fuselage, avionics integration, and training systems. he high cost of the aircraft, a lack of clear air-to-air missions due to delays in Russian and Chinese fighter programs, a ban on exports, and development of the more versatile and lower cost F-35 led to the end of F-22 production. A final procurement tally of 187 operational production aircraft was established in 2009 and the last F-22 was delivered to the USAF in 2012.