F-22 Raptor: The Best Fighter Jet on Earth? You Decide – The American-made F-22 Raptor is widely recognized as one of the globe’s most capable and sophisticated air-superiority fighter jet. A photograph published by the airframe’s maker, Lockheed Martin, shows off the jet’s stealth characteristics.
Even alongside the cutting-edge F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the Raptor appears truly formidable.
As the first operational jet to combine supermaneuvrability, stealth, supercruise and sensor fusion in a single platform, the Raptor has a serious reputation among military and industry experts alike.
Due to various circumstances, the F-22 underwent a tediously lengthy production process that was ultimately halted due to the cost-per-plane, meaning only 187 fighters were actually produced. However, the Raptor’s one-of-a-kind attributes make it the kind of deterrent the U.S. should be hesitant to lose.
F-22 Raptor: A History and Capabilities
The Raptor took its first flight in the late 1990s, designed primarily by Lockheed Martin. The single-seat, twin-engine stealth tactical fighter initially entered service in 2005, although its conception dates back much earlier.
The original requirement for the F-22 was identified in the 1980’s when the Air Force determined that its current capabilities could operate at a “mission deficiency” in the near future since U.S. adversaries were ramping up their own production of advanced fighters at the time.
The F-22 host’s supermaneuverable flight characteristics, including a smaller radar cross-section and twin thrust-vectoring F119 turbofan engines. Its thrust vectoring capacity enables the jet to outclass any other fighter in a dogfight.
The Raptor’s larger frame also allows for three internal weapons bays.
Not Many F-22s To Go Around:
Despite its advanced characteristics, the F-22 Raptors are in short supply.
The Air Force initially planned on purchasing a total of 750 airframes, but the program was cut to 187 jets by 2009. Many factors resulted in the diminished output, including the end of the Cold War, the shift to the War on Terror and the development of comparable yet cheaper platforms. During the Raptor’s extensive production process, the fifth-generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter was produced. Equipped with advanced attributes, the F-35 is also much cheaper to develop than its predecessor, even despite the $1.5 Trillion cost of the F-35 over its total lifespan.
Sadly, there are some in U.S. defense circles who consider the F-22 already nearing being obsolete, with the Air Force considering retiring some of the older F-22 airframes.
The Air Force pointed to the Raptor’s expensive maintenance and diminishing value to emphasize its position.
Today, the Raptors that were considered for retirement are primarily used for training uses and not in combat roles.
Since the Raptor first entered service, U.S. adversaries have significantly ramped up efforts to create near-peer airframes. The People’s Republic of China recently debuted its Chengdu J-20 fifth-generation fighter, a true powerhouse in the aviation sphere. Russia also operates its own fifth-generation fighter, the Sukhoi Su-57. The preservation of the unique capabilities the Raptor can provide seems paramount in an increasingly turbulent global climate.
Maya Carlin is a Middle East Defense Editor with 19FortyFive. She is also an analyst with the Center for Security Policy and a former Anna Sobol Levy Fellow at IDC Herzliya in Israel. She has by-lines in many publications, including The National Interest, Jerusalem Post, and Times of Israel.