The United States Air Force is still set to move some 760 personnel to Joint Base Langley Eustis, Virginia as part of the relocation of the Air Force F-22 Formal Training Unit from Eglin Air Force Base (AFB), Florida, but the actual move likely won’t occur until at least next summer. The move of the F-22 training unit to Langley was intended to free up space at Eglin AFB for an additional F-35 Lighting II training unit.
The Air Force’s Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptors are still making the rounds in the meantime, and Autoevolution.com reported this week that one, in particular, was deployed to Alaska. The fifth-generation stealth fighter, which is considered to be one of the most advanced combat aircraft ever built, was seen “sitting idle on the tarmac of some base… unimpressed by the very low clouds that surrounds it.”
One Interesting History
The single-seat, the twin-engine tactical fighter was developed for the U.S. Air Force as the result of the service’s Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) program. Primarily designed as an air superiority fighter, it also offers ground attack, electronic warfare and signals intelligence capabilities. The aircraft is powered by two Pratt & Whitney turbofan engines and is capable of reaching speeds of Mach 2 (1,534 mph/2,469 kph). It has a ceiling of 50,000 feet (15 kilometers) and a range of 1,841 miles (2,962 km) without refueling.
The aircraft is unmistakable, thanks to its unique canopy. As noted by its appearance in Alaska, as well as a deployment to Hawaii this past summer, the F-22 has also lived up to its “all-weather” capabilities.
The fighter that was seen on the tarmac was reported to have been assigned to Joint Base Langley-Eustis and was seen at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson where it was deployed to take part in the Red Flag-Alaska 21-3 exercise.
“Even in this inactive state, the thing looks utterly deadly, exclusive, and rare,” the auto news website reported.
Rare indeed is the aircraft. While the Air Force had originally planned to buy a total of 750 of the F-22s, the program was cut short to 187 operational aircraft, in addition to the eight test models that had been produced. The high costs of the program, as well as a lack of clear air-to-air missions due to delays in Russian and Chinese fighter programs and a ban on experts, resulted in the Air Force’s scaling back. Instead, the Air Force moved ahead with the more versatile F-35.
The last F-22 Raptor was delivered in 2012. And while the Raptors in service could be tearing up the skies for decades to come, the Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) fighter system is expected to be a successor to the F-22 when it enters service in the 2030s.
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.