F-22 Airfoil

Surprisingly enough, the F-22 appears to use a NACA 6-series airfoil, the exact sections listed at the Guide to Airfoil Usage being the NACA 64A?05.92 (root) and NACA 64A?04.29 (tip).

I say surprisingly because most aircraft today, particularly advanced military aircraft, almost never use well-known airfoils like the NACA series. Today's advanced computers make it possible to design and optimize new airfoils suited to the particular needs and operating conditions of an aircraft, and designers usually prefer to develop a new airfoil shape to improve a vehicle's overall performance. Boeing has been custom-designing airfoils for its aircraft for decades, so it seems odd that Lockheed would have chosen a shape dating from the 1940s rather than designing a new shape better tailored to the specific performance requirements of its premiere product.

Nevertheless, the NACA 6-series was designed for low-drag at transonic speeds, where the F-22 spends most of its time, and it therefore makes sense that Lockheed would have chosen this sort of shape for the aircraft. In addition, the digits 05.92 and 04.29 indicate that the root and tip airfoils are only 5.92% and 4.29% thick. We would expect rather thin airfoils like these on a high-speed aircraft to reduce drag.
- answer by Jeff Scott, 6 January 2002

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