The Lockheed Martin/Boeing F-22 Raptor is a single-seat, twin-engine fifth-generation supermaneuverable fighter aircraft that uses stealth technology. It was designed primarily as an air superiority fighter, but has additional capabilities that include ground attack, electronic warfare, and signals intelligence roles.
Defense Secretary Gates, at a Pentagon briefing Thursday, said he had a "big problem" with the vote on the F-22. It has emerged as the preeminent symbol of pricey programs he aims to end in favor of spending on lower-tech arms for Iraq- and Afghanistan-type irregular conflicts.
The Air Force did not reveal how many of its 200 F-22 pilots, who are stationed at seven military bases across the country, declined their assignment orders. But current and former Air Force officials say it's an extremely rare occurrence.
The F-22 is a very impressive fighter capable of flying at supersonic speeds without afterburners (supercruise) and attacking both air and ground targets. The development and production of the F-22 fleet has cost over $74 billion according to the GAO. The F-22s in use right now require more than $11 billion and modernization work through 2017.
The 195th and last F-22 Raptor was delivered to U.S. Air Force leadership in a ceremony held Wednesday at the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics site in Marietta, GA. With this delivery, the U.S. Air Force now possesses the world’s only 5th generation stealth fighter aircraft fleet in the world.
A major criticism of the Raptor is the cost - about $339 million per aircraft. But much of this reflects a wisely added ground attack role and a sneaky but common ruse used to cut weapon procurements.
Although foreign governments have expressed interest in purchasing the F-22, Congress banned its sale overseas out of concerns that the technology it carries is too sensitive to share.
"Given the potential of the aircraft, the line preservation efforts, and an uncertain strategic picture, it could one day follow the C-5 or B-1 and be reborn in a few years," Aboulafia said.
In February 2006, a Lockheed Martin official confirmed that a proposal to sell Japan F-22s in some form of downgraded “international variant” was working its way through the Air Force with the support of the Japanese government.
Pilots for the F-22 fighter plane have reported several new instances of experiencing "hypoxia-like" symptoms while at the controls of America's most expensive and sophisticated stealth jet, the Air Force said, an apparently rare but potentially deadly oxygen problem that has stumped the military for the last four years.
An Air Force advisory panel says it still can't explain what caused blackouts and dizziness among pilots flying its supersonic F-22 Raptor. Officials told a Pentagon press conference Thursday that the stealth fighter is safe and continues to fly in the continental United States.
The high-tech, $153 million aircraft [F-22 Raptor] is being replaced by the less costly F-35 Joint Strike Fighter amid concerns in Washington that the F-22 was too expensive and too advanced for a post-Cold War environment. The aircraft’s supporters argue the F-22 provides a formidable deterrent against emerging powers.