It can be hard to believe that the first airplane took off from the frozen North Carolina ground less than 120 years ago. But we all know the story of the two bicycle-building brothers turned manned flight pioneers. From the Wright Brothers’ first shaky, brief flight has come unfathomable human achievement in the air.
From the first supersonic flight to Neil Armstrong’s momentous walk on the moon, manned flight has changed the world in ways that are hard to measure. And one of the most drastic changes is in warfare.
The fact is, the Wright Brothers’ pioneering flight didn’t only change the world, their Wright Military Flyer “Model A” helped secure the future of the United States against foreign threats.
And technology in military aircraft has come a long way in the relatively short 117 years since the first heavier-than-air controlled flight. The U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit bomber can carry up to 16 2,400-pound nuclear bombs and go 6,000 nautical miles on a single tank—all without detection by enemy radar.
The B-2 Spirit is unarguably the most advanced bomber in the world. But what’s the most advanced fighter jet?
That crown likely goes to the Lockheed-Martin F-22 Raptor. Here’s why:
The fifth-generation, stealth fighter jet’s engines produce more thrust than any current fighter. Its powerful engines, combined with an advanced aerodynamic design, means it can cruise at supersonic speeds without using its afterburner. Modern fighter jets require adding additional fuel after combustion, known as “afterburn,” to reach supersonic speeds. But the Raptor can reach supersonic speeds in cruise, without pushing its engines to their limits—thus saving on fuel and maintenance. This “supercruise” capability allows it to travel faster and further than any potential adversaries.
But it’s not just speed that makes the F-22 such a formidable fixture in the skies.
According to Military.com, “a combination of sensor capability, integrated avionics, situational awareness and weapons provides first-kill opportunity against threats. The F-22 Raptor possesses a sophisticated sensor suite allowing the pilot to track, identify, shoot and kill air-to-air threats before being detected.”
Here are some other F-22 Raptor facts:
• The F-22’s thrust vectoring allows the pilot to adjust the aircraft’s thrust by up to 20 degrees up and down, increasing the Raptors roll rate by 50% compared to other aircraft.
• It can fly for nearly 2,000 miles on a single fueling.
• Although it was built for air-to-air combat, it’s just as capable of engaging in air-to-ground battle.
• There is a ban on exporting any F-22s out of the US in order to protect the stealth technology and unique features.
• Unlike most fighters, the F-22 carries its primary weaponry internally, instead of externally, to reduce its radar cross-section.
• It can cruise at speeds exceeding Mach 1.5 without the use of afterburners.
The F-22 Raptor is the most advanced fighter jet in the world. Its combination of maneuverability, payload, speed and stealth makes it a powerful force against both air and ground threats. Indeed, technology has come a long way since the humble birth of manned flight.
The Hill Aerospace Museum is home to more than 70 modern and vintage military aircraft. We also have a collection of thousands of artifacts representing the history of aviation from the U.S. Air Force, Hill Air Force Base and the State of Utah. We are one of the top family attractions in northern Utah. People of all ages find intrigue and fascination at the Hill Aerospace Museum. And admission to the museum is always free; although, donations go a long way in helping us maintain our collection of vintage aircraft and vestiges of military history.