Despite opposition, the F-22 could be retired as early as next year
The US Air Force faces political opposition from Congress. The Pentagon intends to phase out the legendary F-22 Raptor, the first stealth fighter of the fifth generation.
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The early retirement of the F-22 Raptor will free up the budget to be used in Next Generation Air Dominance [NGAD] development. The chances of early retirement of the F-22 are good, according to Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall. He recently shared that he is already seeing good cooperation among the committees on the subject. According to him, the “stumbling points” of the past are now used for cooperation.
What they want from the Pentagon is to decommission 32 F-22 Raptors next year. They could be pushed through Congress in one overall package that would include the release of several A-10 attack aircraft as well as the E-3 eye in the sky. According to Kendall, the “resistance” to the retirement of the A-10 and E-3 no longer exists at this time. The Air Force Secretary hopes the F-22 will also overcome this resistance.
F-22 spends millions of $US
According to US media reports, the 32 F-22s annually spend hundreds of millions on maintenance. To be more specific, there is talk of an amount in the order of 500 million USD. This money would be welcome specifically for the NGAD program. Of course, there have been comments from Congress as to why the F-22s are not upgraded and converted into modern fighters, what the status of the F-35 is, and what the requirements are for modern warfare. However, calculations show that this would cost the American taxpayer more than $3 billion, and the entire process would take a decade.
Experts explain in more detail why the F-22 should be decommissioned. First, of course, the large costs for their renovation. Second, it’s not just about airplanes, as the public thinks. It’s about completely new electronic warfare technologies, new weapons, new avionics, and new capabilities.
F-22 vs F-35
A recent report of ours also supports the idea that the F-22 is difficult to exist in such an environment. According to characteristics, the F-22 is superior to the F-35. But that’s because the F-22 is meant for air superiority, while the F-35 is a fighter for ground attack and air defense missions. That is, the war is not between planes in the air, as was the trend 30 years ago, but in information.
The F-35 is a platform not only for control but also for information sharing. Here satellite communication and intelligence data are already involved, which can not only inform ground offensives but also control them, even lead them. The F-35 is the king of the air in this regard, while the F-22 stands alone, waiting for an enemy aircraft to attack it.
The F-22 abroad
The US still operates the F-22. This is a fighter that only the Americans have, and they have only recently begun to deploy it in key areas around the world. The first was at a US Air Force base in Okinawa, Japan. There, the F-22 will take over the functions of the F-15 and begin patrolling the Asia-Pacific region on a rotational basis.
The US sent F-22s to Europe. At least one overwintered in Poland beginning patrol missions with the Polish Air Force to monitor the region. His performance will be watched briefly because of the war in Ukraine. The F-22 also joined Grete Island, Greece to participate in a joint exercise with the Greek Air Force.
The F-22 Raptor is a fifth-generation fighter, the first in the history of this class to be used operationally. It features advanced sensors and armament [including up to 8 medium-range air-to-air guided missiles in internal armament chambers], but also supersonic cruising speed without the use of an afterburner [supercruise].
The fighter was manufactured with stealth technology by Lockheed Martin until 2011. Due to decisions based on critical, secret technology, F-22 aircraft were not sold to any other country. The number of F-22 Raptors produced is just over 180.
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