The F-22 Raptor: Program & Events
August 14/17: The US Air Force has taken a F-22 Raptor out of storage at Edwards Air Force Base and is expected to be returned to flying status by the end of the year. The aircraft in question, serial number 91-4006, is an engineering, manufacturing and development model aircraft with a Block 10 avionics configuration. In preparation for its first flight, the Raptor is currently undergoing a $25 million upgrade to a Block 20 avionics standard. A total of eight test and 187 operational aircraft were produced by Lockheed Martin for the USAF before the program was mothballed in 2012.
The 5th-generation F-22A Raptor fighter program has been the subject of fierce controversy, with advocates and detractors aplenty. On the one hand, the aircraft offers full stealth, revolutionary radar and sensor capabilities, dual air-air and air-ground SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses) excellence, the ability to cruise above Mach 1 without afterburners, thrust-vectoring super-maneuverability… and a ridiculously lopsided kill record in exercises against the best American fighters. On the other hand, critics charged that it was too expensive, too limited, and cripples the USAF’s overall force structure.
Meanwhile, close American allies like Australia, Japan and Israel, and other allies like Korea, were pressing the USA to abandon its “no export” policy. Most already fly F-15s, but several were interested in an export version of the F-22 in order to help them deal with advanced – and advancing – Russian-designed aircraft, air-to-air missiles, and surface-to-air missile systems. That would have broadened the F-22 fleet in several important ways, but the US political system would not or could not respond.
This DID FOCUS Article tracks continuing maintenance and fleet upgrade programs, contracts, and timely news. A separate public-access feature offers a profile of the USAF’s most advanced fighter, and covers both sides of the F-22 Raptor program’s controversies.
The F-22 Raptor
F-22 Raptor: Program
Flyaway Costs & Budgets
Raptor, Redux: Upgrading the Fleet
Long-Term Maintenance Programs
F-22 Raptor: Key Events
2014 – 2017
F-22 Raptor: Contracts & Production
FY 2005 and Earlier (Incomplete)
Additional Readings & Sources
Background: The F-22
Background: Official Reports
Background: F-22 Program
News & Views
Fill in the secure form below to activate your subscription right away (or pick another plan)