A U.S. Air Force F-22 Stealth Fighter Just Crashed. How Many Are Left?


A U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor stealth fighter crashed in Florida on Friday. The crash leaves the Air Force with 185 Raptors out of the 195 that Lockheed Martin

LMT
constructed beginning within the mid-1990s.

The F-22 from the 43rd Fighter Squadron, a part of the 325th Fighter Wing working out of Eglin Air Force Base in Florida’s panhandle area, went down within the bases’ adjoining coaching vary at 9:15 within the morning. The pilot safely ejected.

The crash reduces by one the F-22 coaching fleet however doesn’t immediately influence the front-line Raptor pressure. Which is to not say future crashes gained’t rapidly erode the Air Force’s deployable F-22 fleet. There aren’t loads of Raptors to go round.

Lockheed constructed 195 production- and development-standard F-22s for a complete value of $67 billion, a sum that features growth however doesn’t embrace ongoing upgrades to the jets. The final Raptor rolled out of Lockheed’s Georgia manufacturing facility in December 2011.

Accidents in 2004, 2009 and 2010—and now the 2020 crash—have destroyed 4 Raptors. Other, older F-22s went into storage after operating out of airframe-life. The Air Force in 2017 rebuilt one timed-out F-22 as a way to reinforce the flyable take a look at fleet.

As lately because the early 2000s, the Air Force anticipated shopping for greater than 400 F-22s as a way to exchange, on a one-for-one foundation, all of the F-15C Eagle fighters then within the stock.

Instead, Defense Secretary Robert Gates in 2009 abruptly ended Raptor manufacturing. “There is no doubt that the F-22 has unique capabilities that we need—the penetration and defeat of an advanced enemy air-defense and fighter fleet,” Gates defined on the time.

“But, the F-22 is, in effect, a niche, silver-bullet solution required for a limited number of scenarios—to overcome advanced enemy fighters and air-defense systems,” Gates added.

Within a number of years, nonetheless, it was clear that Gates’ choice was untimely. The explosive development in Chinese army energy and the looks of Chinese and Russian stealth-fighter designs underscored the rising problem to America’s command of the air. Older American planes such because the A-10 and F-16 could possibly be weak with out satisfactory safety from F-22s.

Meanwhile America’s different stealth fighter, the ground-attack-optimized F-35, proved to be a mediocre dogfighter. Design flaws even have restricted the F-35’s capacity to fly at supersonic speeds. Desperate to shore up its fighter numbers, the Air Force in its 2020 finances restarted acquisition of the Boeing

BA
F-15 after a 16-year break.

All that’s to say that each F-22 is treasured.

The Air Force in 2020 break up its Raptor stock 3 ways.

Before the Eglin crash, 123 of the most recent Block 30/35/40 F-22s outfitted 5 front-line squadrons. Two with the first Fighter Wing at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia. Two with the third Wing at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska. One with the Air National Guard’s 154th Fighter Wing at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii.

A sixth front-line squadron at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida disbanded after Hurricane Michael badly broken Tyndall in 2018. The Air Force unfold that unit’s F-22s throughout the opposite front-line Raptor squadrons.

The Tyndall-based 325th Fighter Wing skilled all F-22 pilots on 29 older Block 10/20 F-22s. Test models at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada and Edwards Air Force Base in California flew 16 of the oldest Raptors.

That’s 168 F-22s. The stability, 18 airframes, was within the back-up stock. In different phrases, the Air Force had 18 Raptors that it thought-about “extra.” Thirteen had been combat-coded Block 30/35/40 fashions. Three had been coaching jets. Two had been take a look at planes.

A back-up Block 10/20 presumably will exchange the F-22 that crashed at Eglin, decreasing to 2 the additional coaching planes within the stock. The general back-up stock now’s 17 planes.

That’s 17 F-22s the Air Force can afford to lose in crashes or in fight earlier than current squadrons should begin slicing their flyable energy.

The Air Force at current plans to function the Raptor by way of the 2050s. In 16 years the service has misplaced 4 F-22s. If that accident-rate holds, the Air Force would possibly lose a further 10 F-22s to non-combat accidents earlier than the kind’s out-of-service date in 2060 or so.

In brief, the Air Force has sufficient F-22s to maintain its current squadrons in enterprise. But solely barely. An uptick in crashes, or excessive losses in fight, rapidly would pressure the flying department to regulate or shrink the pressure construction.



Source link Forbes.com

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