Naval Advanced Tactical Fighter (NATF) 1988-1991
Due to Congressional intervention, the US Navy agreed to evaluate a navalized version of the US Air Force’s Advanced Tactical Fighter (now the F/A-22) as a possible replacement for their F-14s.
In late 1988, a Naval ATF (NATF) program office was set up at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the existing ATF Dem/Val contracts were modified to include studies of potential NATF variants.
The Major Aircraft Review reduced the peak production rates of both the ATF and NATF. This had the effect of substantially increasing the program cost.
In August 1990, Admiral Richard Dunleavy, who was in charge of Navy aircraft requirements, stated that he did not see how the NATF could fit into any affordable plan for naval aviation. In early 1991, before the final contractor for the ATF was even selected, the consideration of the NATF was dropped. This was mainly due to the fact that the Navy realized that a series of upgrades to their existing F-14’s could meet the Navy’s air superiority needs through 2015.
Issues with F-22N? Why was Naval Advanced Tactical Fighter rejected?
The F-22N was studied in the Major Aircraft Review as an NATF concept, and canceled in large measure because the projected high gross take-off weight exceeds the capacity of current carriers.
Carrier aircraft fly slower approaches than land-based aircraft and must be able to perform a waveoff at low speed. Therefore, a full power 1.5g turn at 0.2M and sea level with all stores and reserve fuel on board may be needed to ensure an adequate maneuver margin. This requirement determines the wing loading for sea-based aircraft.
Carrier operations require heavier structures for several reasons:
- Arrested landings require a tail hook and reinforced fuselage
- Landing gear is designed for 24 ft/s sink rate
- Catapult launches require reinforced nose gear and a strengthened fuselage.
These weight increments are difficult to quantify because there are no data for aircraft that were designed for both land-based and sea-based operations with exactly the same mission capability.
Early in the ATF/NATF development, a Naval variant of the F-22 could have been developed. By the late 1990s, however, to graft, a Naval requirement onto an existing F-22 program would be similar to the mistake that the Department made in developing the F-111.
Now in 2018 US Navy demand and level of threat is totally changed.
US Navy will soon confront an operational environment where any nation equipped with modern long range aircraft such as the Su-27/30/35 Flanker will be able to challenge a Carrier Strike Group with a saturation supersonic cruise missile attack. Neither the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet nor the F-35C Joint Strike Fighter will have the performance or stealth to deal with this kind of threat. The only technological choice available within a feasible timeline and budget is a direct adaptation of the existing F-22A Raptor. So to restore America’s Maritime Air Dominance Air Power Australia is proposing a new Design F/A-22N Sea Raptor. Open part two of this article and see amazing new See Raptor design!”