Twenty years ago today, Pratt & Whitney’s F119 engine powered the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor’s first flight from Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Georgia. As part of the System Design and Development (SDD) phase, the first flight was flown by F-22 Chief Test Pilot Paul Metz in front of a consortium of U.S. Air Force, Lockheed Martin, and Pratt & Whitney employees and family who gathered to watch the world’s first fifth generation fighter take to the skies for the first time. The first F-22 aircraft, known simply as “Raptor 01,” flew for just under one hour, reaching an altitude of 20,000 feet.
“The first flight of the F119 engine and the F-22 Raptor was truly a historic moment,” said Marie Speagle, manager, F119 Logistics Program, and former field service representative who was part of the Pratt & Whitney contingent on the ground in Marietta to support the F-22’s first flight on Sept. 7, 1997. “It was a unified and collaborative team effort across so many different disciplines within Pratt & Whitney, Lockheed Martin, and our U.S. Air Force customer to make a step change in military fighter technology a reality.”
The Pratt & Whitney team built an engine that delivered superior performance, safety and reliability that will help maintain U.S. air superiority for decades to come. Two F119 engines power the F-22 Raptor, delivering unparalleled aircraft maneuverability and operational capability. The F119 features a combination of stealth technologies and a unique thrust-vectoring nozzle that allows unprecedented speed, agility, precision and situational awareness. Additionally, the F-22's ability to operate at supersonic speeds without afterburner, known as supercruising, gives the aircraft exceptional combat performance without compromising mission range.
Following the development testing phase, which explored the airframe and F119 engine’s ability to operate at different speeds and altitudes across the flight envelope, the U.S. Air Force declared Initial Operational Capability (IOC) status for the F-22 Raptor on Dec. 15, 2005. Just two years later, on Dec. 12, 2007, the U.S Air Force declared Full Operational Capability (FOC) for the F-22.
Since its maiden flight 20 years ago, the F119 engine has powered the F-22 over the course of more than 500,000 engine flight hours as the U.S. Air Force’s preeminent air dominance fighter, establishing itself as a critical asset to national security for the conflicts of today and tomorrow. While the final production F119 engine was delivered in January 2013, Pratt & Whitney anticipates a 30- to 40-year sustainment period that will keep the F-22 flying for decades to come.
“The F119 was a game changer from its ease of maintenance to its air dominance and everything in between,” added Speagle. “It all started with that first flight 20 years ago.”