This post was inspired by @Qantas094’s Full Review series.
F-22 Raptor: The Guide
The Raptor’s Cobra rears up against the Sun, Virtual RIAT 2019
Hey there! I’m Nate Schneller. IFAE-GAF Raptor Driver and IFCAS Demo Pilot. In celebration of the Raptor’s recent 22nd birthday, I’ve decided to make a guide and review on Infinite Flight’s F-22 Raptor. I’ll explain what this bird can do in the sim as best as I can, from the ground up in a literal sense. Hop in your cockpit, energize it, get up there and become the best.
The F-22 Raptor is the United States Air Force’s 5th Generation, twin engine, single seat, supersonic stealth all weather fighter built by Lockheed Martin and Boeing, and the first fully operational 5th Generation Fighter to fly in the world. This was the result of the Pentagon’s Advanced Tactical Fighter program, in response to threats by high-end 4th Generation Fighters. The Raptor was built at first for Air Superiority, but it grew to fit the roles of ground attack, electronic warfare and reconnaissance/signal intel. Stealth, Supercruise, Sensor Fusion and Maneuverability are its 4 key aspects that make the Raptor 5th Generation. The Stealth comes from a new form of fighter architecture known as plan-form alignment, where linear edges of the fighter line up with other edges, creating a radar reflection system, further helped by a radar absorbing material coating the F-22. Supercruise comes from the two powerful Pratt & Whitney F119 engines, which produce over 70,000 pounds of thrust. With the Raptor’s use of light titanium alloys and other materials, it can be pushed to supersonic speed without the use of afterburner to Mach 1.8. It’s top speed on burners is around Mach 2.25. Maneuverability comes from its aerodynamically unstable airframe, assisted by a flight control system and thrust vector nozzles on the F119, which allows it to pull extremely high alpha (AoA) maneuvers like the Cobra, J-Turn and Kulbit (Backflip). The Raptor’s whole skin is in fact a sensor. Combined with AESA radar, and other avionics, gives the pilot unprecedented situational awareness. A lot of the Raptor is still classified, so if you plan to fly this thing, be sure you know how to keep a government-level secret (you may have to do away with Social Media in this case).
In Infinite Flight, the Raptor was introduced in 2014 and is indeed showing its age in comparison to newer works by the Developers like the A-10. Although the Raptor solo is basically a stunt plane, I do happen to know of 2 Virtual Organizations that make the best use of it possible 😉
The Compass Ghost
The Raptor’s livery on Infinite Flight is based on a real Raptor (4042 or FF-042) of the 27th Fighter Squadron otherwise known as the Fightin’ Eagles, based at Joint Base Langley-Eustis (it just got reworked in the newest scenery update as of this post). The Tail Code “FF” is indicative of the First Fighter Wing, also at Langley. It was the first operational F-22 to be delivered to a Fighter Squadron. The Raptor’s livery is known as Compass Ghost and is the only known color a Raptor can wear. It is to make it exceptionally difficult to spot visually in blue skies to dull overcast. As I am one for variety, even with this monotonous livery, you could vote for more Tail Codes in a Raptor Rework here. (I’d like to see an “IF” Tail Code”)
The Real FF-042, The 27th’s First Raptor, being delivered to Langley by Lt. Col James Hecker, Commander of the 27th FS.
Source: TSgt Ben Bloker / Public Domain / Wikipedia
The cockpit of the Raptor is largely classified, although few images have surfaced in the Public Domain of it fully energized. The Infinite Flight Raptor cockpit to say the least looks a lot like it, but not much like it. The cockpit’s dimensions and detail are blurry (as it is an old model), but correct, except for one thing, the displays, which I believe come from the F-16. However, in a dogfight, Cockpit View has a huge importance. Do not rely on your default Fixed HUD View for dogfights. The ability to look around and track your opponent will certainly allow you to predict his movement and act accordingly (a technique known as the OODA Loop, for Observe, Orient, Decide and Act). To simulate a missile launch, you can place your opponent in the HUD and try to keep him inside for around 5 to 10 seconds. Be sure to keep a screenshot or recording as proof. Want it to look better? Again, give this a vote!
An IFAE-GAF Pilot uses cockpit view mid-flight to down an IRIAF F-14 in a simulated deployment to a hypothetical crisis in Iran, Summer of 2019
If I can sum it up in one sentence, taxiing is better with one engine. The Raptor needs constant attention in this period. Use your brakes. Staying away from it too long would result in taxi violations. Before takeoff, for realistic purposes, set your flaps to 10.
Basics of Flight
A key aspect to the experience of flying something in Infinite Flight is Flight characteristics. fully mastering the Raptor is difficult, so we’re starting off with the basics.
Once lined up on the runway in a non-urgent scenario, select MIL power (100% N1 or 81% Throttle), release brakes and you’re on your way. Depending on your weight, the Raptor can rotate between 120 and 130kts. Once airborne, hit the gear switch and retract your flaps. Should you find yourself scrambling, just punch it, rotate, stay level and accelerate and go vertical. That’s an unrestricted climb, which is used in the case of responding to a close threat, for example.
Speed and Cruise
The Raptor’s ferry range is around 1000nm, give or take 100 or 200 should you have strong tail or headwinds. This is about as long as your average regional flight. In terms of efficiency, FL350/360 is the sweet spot for ferrying the Raptor. But, here’s the fun part. The Raptor has the ability to Supercruise at speeds above Mach 2 and can sustain level flight as high as FL700! Not to mention, in Infinite Flight, I’ve seen the Raptor break Mach 3 and fly ballistic arcs through the thin upper atmospheric air, some 100,000 feet up.
I consider the Raptor the easiest fighter to land. So, before you land, take into account your flaps don’t act the way you think they do. They are basically airbrakes and also slow down your turn rate. to set up your pattern entry after you’ve descended, enter 1000 feet above the runway break off into the pattern and slowly make your way down. This is what is called a Run and Break, a common pattern entry maneuver used by single or flights of Raptors. Mid-downwind, select flaps 10 and 100% trim. After your downwind to final turn, set flaps 30 and slow down enough so that your throttle will control the pitch, not the stick. At 50 feet, ground effect begins to occur and you may slowly reduce the throttle. After a smooth touchdown, keep your nose up 10-15 degrees to slow yourself down, no wheel brakes required. This is aerodynamic braking, which is also common in military aviation.
Good. You got the basics. But what if I told you the Raptor in IF actually has thrust vectoring?
I have posted a tutorial on utilizing thus one-of-a-kind ability the Raptor possesses over all other aircraft in Infinite Flight. If I have one tip for you, post-stall maneuvers are very control-sensitive. If you want to be smooth, be careful. Have a look here!
Using this feature skillfully, you can pull off some interesting things like:
- Pugachev’s Cobra
- Kulbit (Flip)
- Controlled Pedal Turn
- Slow, high alpha flight (<90kts)
- Things you would normally see Rob Holland do with an MXS.
If you have watched the Raptor during its real airshow flight, you would notice the Raptor drifting and turning on a dime, and doing all the maneuvers above with no sweats broken, because it has a flight control system and aerodynamic instability, which requires the rear elevons to deflect downward to prevent the Raptor from snapping into a Cobra, uncontrolled. In Infinite Flight, this isn’t really the case. It flies actually more like an F-15. Stiff, more stable and not much alpha pulled at corner speed (350kts), but still can kick tailpipes in dogfights. But if you use a special trick, you can send yourself into a super maneuver like the tutorial post above states.
Since I actually know how to fly a Raptor thanks to another sim, I would find it awesome if the Raptor’s drifty character was a added into IF. If you want that to happen, I again would say…VOTE.
Even though it’s old, it is still gold. Used within a VO that makes the best use of it, whether it’s for airshows or air or ground attack, you could really get hooked on it. Who wouldn’t want to simulate the air life of a military aviator in Infinite Flight? If you like that, the Raptor may just be for you. And believe me. I think this is the Aircraft I have the most flights on nowadays.
Wishing you good hunting and #FullSends,