Aircraft RCS Functional Test Facility,
Lockheed Martin Aeronautical Systems

F-22 in the RCS Functional Test Facility
Photo by Joe McNally

The F-22 Raptor is manufactured at Lockheed Martin's plant in Marietta, Georgia. The final production test prior to delivery of the aircraft to the United States Air Force is a functional test of its Low Observable (LO) or "stealth" characteristics.

Measurements are made on each completed aircraft in a large 210 ft x by 150 ft x by 45 ft (64m x 46m x 14m) echoic chamber. The aircraft is wheeled into the chamber on its landing gear, where low-RCS pylons lift the aircraft so that its landing gear can be retracted, placing the aircraft in a realistic flight configuration.

The Howland Company designed the echoic chamber. We designed and built an anechoic aperture to control the measurement radar's illumination of the aircraft, and probed the resulting electromagnetic field to verify the proper illumination of the test article. We developed the procurement specification for the high performance instrumentation radar. We also prepared the specifications for the 40ft diameter turntable and the lifting pylons.

During the construction phase of the project, The Howland Company was responsible for overseeing much of the work related to the echoic chamber, instrumentation radar, and turntable.

On the web (links open in a new browser window):

  • Lockheed Martin's video highlighting the F-22 and F-35 Fifth Generation fighters features (briefly) the F-22 Functional RCS Test Facility. See the video on YouTube below. It's a great video, but our favorite parts are at 1:51, 1:59, and 4:03.
  • pdfA reprint from Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine (January 8, 2007) describes the F-22's capabilities and the lessons learned after air combat exercises in Alaska in 2006. (1225k PDF file)
  • pdf Lockheed Martin's Affordable Stealth (Paper presented at the National Press Club by Dr. Brett Haisty, LMAS Manager of Special Technologies NOTE: 500k PDF file)
  • External Link  Air Force's F-22 Program Clears Way for Production Decision (US Air Force press release, Feb. 2001)
  • qt Click here for a time-lapse Quicktime video of an F-22 in the RCS Functional Test Facility (.mov file, 1.8 megs).

Raptor 4004 in the Production RCS Test Facility; this was the first airframe with full mission equipment, LO coatings, etc, to be measured in the facility.

USAF photos
This photo shows an earlier form and fit test with the 'paint model'--a precise full-scale model of the aircraft used to validate the robotic paint and coatings system developed for the F-22.
Another view of airframe 4004, this one from outside the open hangar door.
Several views of the F-22 RCS Functional Test Facility
(above) and two closeups (below) of the instrumentation
radar antenna array and aperture.
aeroflex   Instrumentation radar antenna array and aperture