The US Air Force is proud of its F-22 stealth aircraft, which it says is superior to all existing and future stealth aircraft, whether Chinese, Russian or even American F-3s, so why is America content with producing 187 copies of the F-22 only, despite its tremendous capabilities.
Despite its long time to development and various operational issues, US officials consider the F-22 known as the Raptor to be a critical component of the service’s tactical air force, thanks to its combination of stealth, aerodynamic performance, maneuverability, and avionics systems that allow for unprecedented aerial combat capabilities.
But notes just released show how the F-22 was abandoned in favor of the new B-21 stealth bomber, according to a report in The National Interest.
The F-22 program faced its tragic end in the late 2000s, as the number of units slated to be produced fell from an initial estimate of 750 to 187.
The aircraft entered service in 2005, and the last F-22 was delivered in 2012, a short period of production in the US standard.
The F-22 has amazing capabilities and health issues for pilots
All F-22s require a combined three-week maintenance plan for every 300 flight hours, the F-22’s stealth coatings are designed to be more robust and weatherproof than those used on previous stealth aircraft. However early coatings still faced problems with precipitation and moisture when the F-22s were initially deployed in 2009. The stealth system accounts for nearly a third of the maintenance, and needs special attention.
During the first years of service, F-22 pilots experienced symptoms including loss of consciousness, memory loss, emotional fluctuation and neurological changes, as well as chronic respiratory problems and a chronic cough.
A number of possible causes were investigated, including harmful chemicals in the respiratory tubes, malfunctions of the pressure suit, and disruption of the oxygen supply. The fleet was idle for four months in 2011 before flying resumed.
In August 2012, the US Department of Defense found that the valve used to inflate the pilot’s jacket during high-gravity maneuvers was defective, restricting the pilot’s breathing, and the on-board oxygen generation system also resulted in unexpectedly lowering oxygen levels during high-intensity maneuvers. Gravity, and most of these issues have been addressed.
But the plane remained a tremendous technological leap for the US Air Force, as the F-22 was designed to be extremely difficult to detect and track by radar, through the use of radar-absorbing waves, in addition to the aircraft’s design, including the pilot’s helmet and weapons, so as to reduce reversal frequencies Radar devices, in addition to also to reduce radio emissions, infrared fingerprint and voice signature, and even reduce the possibility of visibility with the naked eye, and to cool the aircraft’s heat-emitting equipment.
It flew over an Iranian plane without being detected
According to the US Air Force, the F-22 surprised an Iranian F-4 Phantom II aircraft that was attempting to intercept a US drone, despite Iran’s assertion of VHF military radar coverage over the Persian Gulf.
The F-22 Raptor is the first fifth-generation fighter, and is considered the fourth generation in stealth aircraft technology by the US Air Force.
It is the first operational aircraft to combine superb navigation (supersonic flight without the use of post-burner), superior maneuverability, stealth, and sensor integration into a single weapons platform.
The F-22’s aerodynamics and powerful engines geared to propulsion give it excellent maneuverability, including difficult maneuvers.
So why did the US forces buy 187 units of this amazing plane, while they have about 1,200 F-16s, for example?
Why was America content with producing 187 copies of the F-22?
Recent notes highlight the institutional debates that led to the US government’s decision to reduce Raptor production.
In his recent diary, retired General Norton Schwartz, a former Air Force chief of staff, provided new insights into the bureaucratic debate between the U.S. Air Force and the Department of Defense over the fate of the additional F-22 purchases.
Schwartz wrote that his predecessors – retired General Mike Mosley and then Air Force Secretary Mike Wynn – adhered to a purchase and development strategy that prioritized “overwhelming air” supremacy.
The Air Force wanted as many F-22s as possible; By the start of the Iraq War, this number was considered to be at least 381 aircraft.
Conversely, then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates emphasized that the US Air Force’s focus on F-22s did not reflect the realities of contemporary US military commitments.
Gates assumed this position after the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld (Secretary of Defense during the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq), where he remained in the position from December 2006 until 2011, when George Bush (Jr.) appointed him to the position after the Democrats won the congressional elections, and Obama kept him for a while.
According to Gates’ logic, the role of the F-22 as an advanced air superiority platform has been lost in the post-Cold War world; The United States increasingly finds itself waging asymmetric conflicts against enemies who do not have meaningful airpower capabilities. More specifically, Gates believed that the F-22s had no significant role to play in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He further emphasized that China will not use its fifth-generation stealth fighters until 2020, which would make the F-22 a premature investment.
Schwartz wrote that the F-22 affair “remained a constant source of conflict between then-Air Force Commander Mike Mosley and Gates.”
Schwartz first attempted to negotiate the final number for the F-22s series to 243, a 35% reduction from the minimum number the USAF wanted of 381 aircraft.
But Gates did not budge. Finally, Schwartz and other senior Air Force officials conceded that this was an unbeatable debate.
Instead, they turned their attention to convincing Gates that the government needed to invest in the next generation of bomber platforms before the stealth B-2 became obsolete over the coming decades.
They succeeded, and they assured Gates that the new bomber project would be developed “with a system he’s never seen before.”
Simply put, the USAF has abandoned its desire to purchase additional F-22s in favor of what has become the B-21 Raider heavy strategic bomber still in development.
Gates appears as a central character in Schwartz’s novel, as there is no doubt that his purchase decisions had a major impact on the fate of the F-22.
However, Gates was not alone in questioning the F-22’s continued cost-effectiveness.
The late Senator John McCain described the F-22s as “the queen of an eroding hangar,” arguing that “the 168 of them, which cost more than $ 200 million per copy, may become the most expensive eroded hangar queens in modern military aviation history.” (A metaphor for it will be and will not be used).
The F-22 suffered a fatal blow in 2009, when President Obama threatened to veto continued production of the F-22, and the Senate voted against expanding the program.
Do the Americans regret their decision, and will they reproduce it?
The program has been shortened due to high costs, a lack of apparent “air-to-air” missions due to delays in the Russian and Chinese fighter programs, and the development of the more multi-mission and less expensive F-35.
However, rapid Russian and Chinese developments in advanced air superiority fighter technology have prompted some tepid interest in resuming the F-22 program, especially since despite all
The disadvantages attributed to the Russian and Chinese stealth aircraft are that the difference between them and the “F-35” is not significant, especially in light of criticism of the “F-35” aircraft in terms of their maneuverability.
But the odds of a Raptor return appear very slim. Instead, the U.S. Air Force is making slow but steady plans for the next-generation successor to the F-22.