The F-22 Raptor shows off its agility in glorious 4K
The Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor is an extraordinary aircraft, the result of a project that began all the way back in 1981, five years before Top Gun. It entered military service in 2007, and delivered its final aircraft in 2012.
At around US$150 million a pop, the F-22 offered a killer combination of smart weapons systems, supersonic top speeds up to and over Mach 2, radar-dodging stealth capabilities, ultra-lightweight titanium alloy construction and exceptional situational awareness for its pilots thanks to clever sensor fusion technology. And that's not to mention its insane agility; its 70,000-odd pounds of thrust could be vectored incredibly quickly to pull supernaturally tight maneuvers none of its rivals could touch.
It was a next-level machine for sure; in simulated air-to-air combat exercises it absolutely dominated. During one exercise over Alaska in 2006, a "blue" force including 12 Raptors smashed a "red" force without them, downing 241 planes while losing only two. Neither of those two was an F-22, and the 12 Raptors recorded 108 kills just by themselves. The French reckon they've outmaneuvered the odd F-22 in combat exercises, but it remains the most fearsome dogfighter ever developed.
Of course, by the time it was ready for active duty, the face of war had changed substantially. The greatest air superiority fighter in history found itself flying about with precious little over which to assert its superiority. In terms of actual combat, it's intercepted the odd Russian bomber, dropped a few bombs on Syria and blew up some opium in Afghanistan – and otherwise it's been a terrific deterrent; just parking a few F-22s in a particular area makes any air operation start to look extremely expensive to enemies.
So while it's never had – and indeed may never get – the chance to dominate a dogfight the way it was designed to, the F-22 remains in service. The original US Air Force order of 750 aircraft was eventually cut back to just 187, and those will likely endure through 2030 with a few upgrades applied.
But watching these things in action is still an elemental experience, which brings us to today's subject, which is essentially just a super cool video of F-22 Raptors doing F-22 Raptor things in beautiful 4K, with slow-mo and 360-degree shots mixed in to add a little extra drop to your jaw.
This is the F-22 Raptor Demonstration team at work. Stationed at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Hampton, Virginia, the team has flown more than 250 demonstrations worldwide. Jump into the video and enjoy – and if you've got VR Goggles, there's a 360degree VR version to enjoy as well.
Source: F-22 Demo Team