Why The U.S. Air Force Wants To Retire The F-22 Raptor Fighter Jet


The Air Force says it can save almost $3.5 billion by the end of this decade — if the requested number of Block 20 F-22s are retired. To upgrade them to Block 35 specifications would require an additional $3.5 billion, totaling $7 billion that Moore maintains would be better spent on a new sixth-generation fighter jet program known as Next Generation Air Dominance.

Outside cost of doing the updates, Moore also cites staffing concerns. Lockheed-Martin would need to reallocate staff to modify the Block 20 F-22s, which could mean pulling resources from the construction and development of other jets, like the F-35.

The F-22 Raptor, is a single-seat, twin-engine fighter jet that flew for the first time in 1997. Perhaps its most noteworthy features are a special stealth coating that makes the fighter more difficult to detect, as well as its “supercruise” ability, which means it can fly long distances at supersonic speeds. Additionally, its Pratt & Whitney F119 engines are said to be simple to maintain, requiring just six tools that can be found at a common hardware store. 

In an air-to-ground configuration, combat F-22s carry two 1,000-pound GBU-32 bombs and two AIM-120 radar-guided missiles. When configured for air-to-air combat, the armament consists of two AIM-9 heat-seeking missiles and six AIM-120 radar-guided missiles. In either case, a 20-millimeter Gatling-style rotary cannon with a 480 round capacity is always on board. 

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