Released: 21 Jul 1999
In the context of the F-22 Raptor, supercruise is defined as the ability to cruise at speeds of one and a half times the speed of sound or greater without the use of afterburner for extended periods in combat configuration. In fact, once operational, the F-22 will be able to fly large portions of its combat missions in supercruise mode, a key element to the aircraft's air dominance role.
"Sustaining the target Mach was not difficult for the Raptor," said Col. C.D. Moore, Combined Test Force commander, at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. "The difficulty was keeping the Raptor from going faster than the target speed. Yesterday the airplane demonstrated that it can achieve awesome speed, flying above 1.5 Mach at a low power setting, for a sustained period of time. No other fighter in the world can do that."
Moore flew yesterday's mission, piloting the first flight-test F-22 off the assembly line. He was pushed by Raptor 01's two powerful Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 engines to speeds greater than Mach 1.5 during a two hour flight over Edwards.
"The F-22 is designed to dominate future air combat by integrating supercruise with advanced avionics and stealth," said Brig. Gen. Michael Mushala, Aeronautical Systems Center's F-22 program director, commenting about the significant milestone.
"Its ability to supercruise will allow the F-22 larger patrol areas, and permit the Raptor to enter and exit hostile areas in quick fashion, reducing the time a pilot spends over an enemy's territory," he said. "The capabilities of an F-22 aircraft will be a great benefit to our warfighters."
Bob Rearden, Lockheed Martin's F-22 program general manager hailed the achievement as another in a series of test milestones achieved ahead of time.
"The Raptor continues to surpass our expectations," said Rearden. "Supercruising in less than 275 flight hours and reaching an altitude of 50,000 feet a full year ahead of schedule validates the maturity of the F-22 at this early stage of flight test, and confirms that the Raptor is fundamentally different from fighters previously developed. The Raptor's maturity at this stage of the flight test program is phenomenal."
The F-22 is being developed by ASC to replace the aging F-15 air-superiority fighter and to counter lethal threats posed by advanced surface-to-air missile systems and next-generation fighters equipped with launch-and-leave missiles. The F-15 will be more than 30 years old when the F-22 is fielded in 2005.
* F-15 Eagle (B/C/D Models)
* F-15E Strike Eagle
* F-22 Raptor Watch
* Aeronautical Systems Center
* Brig. Gen. Michael C. Mushala
* Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.
* Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio