Lockheed-Martin YF-22 & F-22 Raptor

The successor of the F-15 was selected after the Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) competition between the Lockheed YF-22 and Northrop YF-23, which the former won. As a fifth generation fighter a lot has been done to make the F-22 as stealthy as possible. This has resulted for example in a sharp edge between the top and bottom half of the forward fuselage. Together with the high mounted canopy, the front of the F-22 looks like a velociraptor, so it is appropriately named 'Raptor'. Although the aircraft has delta wings, it still has conventional horizontal stabilisers. Other characteristics are the two outward facing, trapezium shaped vertical stabilisers, and two rectangular exhausts. 

The high mounted cockpit and sharp edge between the upper and lower half of the forward fuselage make the F-22 look like a (veloci)raptor.

The rectangular exhausts are an easy recognition point of the F-22. Also note the trapezium shaped vertical stabilisers.

This top view shows the delta wings of the F-22, that extend to the air intakes. Note the shape of the horizontal stabilisers.


The Lockheed contribution to the ATF competition was designated YF-22. It has the same basic shape as the eventual F-22A, but with some notable differences. The YF-22 has

  • the air intakes below the canopy
  • horizontal stabilisers with a nearly triangular shape
  • straight trailing edges of the wings
  • big vertical stabilisers starting about halfway the wings

Top front view of the YF-22, showing that the air intakes are below the canopy. (photo USAF/WikiMedia)

From this angle you can better see the triangular horizontal stabilisers and straight wing trailing edges of the YF-22. (photo USAF/WikiMedia)


Compared to the YF-22 prototype air vehicle (PAV) demonstrators the F-22A has the following improvements (see photos above):

  • the canopy is placed further forward and air intakes to the back, so that the air intakes are behind the canopy
  • the wing trailing edge has a dent close to the wing tip
  • the inboard part of the trailing edge of the horizontal stabilisers is parallel to the leading edge
  • the vertical stabilisers are smaller

Confusion possible with

KAI KF-21 Boramae

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Externally, the KF-21 is almost a copy of the F-22, although it is less capable. The main external difference are the round exhausts. Furthermore the canopy and nose have a slightly different shape. (photo: WikiMedia)

Shenyang FC-31

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The Shenyang FC-31 is in appearance an F-22 with the air intake of the F-35. The main external difference are the round exhausts. Furthermore, the large, single nose gear door is a key feature. (photo: wc/WikiMedia)

Lockheed-Martin F-35 Lightning II

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While similar to the F-22 in some ways - both are stealth fighters developed by Lockheed - the F-35 Lightning II is significantly different from the F-22. Firstly the F-35 has one engine, fed from inward facing air intakes. Moreover, the wings have a trapezium shape and the two vertical stabilisers have not. Finally, the nose is shorter with a lower canopy.

Sukhoi Su-57 Felon

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The Su-57 is the Russian counterpart of the F-22. As the stealth technology more or less dictates the shape, the Su-57 and F-22 are look-a-likes. The best ways to keep them apart are the exhausts (round on the Sukhoi), air intakes (under the wings) and vertical stabilisers (nearly triangular).

Chengdu J-20

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Also the Chinese have a fifth generation stealth fighter, the J-20. It is more different from the F-22 than the Su-57: the J-20 has canard wings in front of the delta wings. Also the vertical stabilisers are smaller. The exhausts are round like on the Sukhoi. (photo: Alert5/Wikimedia)