Is the F-22 Raptor a Waste of Money?

F-22 Raptor Stealth Fighter
Is the F-22 Raptor a Waste of Money?

The Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor Stealth Fighter is undeniably excellent, even if it is getting on in years. In a training exercise more than ten years ago, a French Rafale fighter jet beat an American F-22 Raptor stealth fighter. This was one of the most controversial events in aviation history.

Why an F-22 Was Killed in a Staged Air Battle

F-22 Raptor Stealth Fighter

The F-22 Raptor is a stealth fighter aircraft of the fifth generation. The single-seat, twin-engine plane is one of only four stealth fighters in the sky at the moment, alongside the American F-35, the Chinese J-20, and the Russian Su-57.

When it comes to modern fighter jets, the Dassault Rafale is among the best. The twin-engine fighter jet can attack ground and maritime targets and comes with the option of carrying either a single pilot or two.

There have been times when older and less technologically advanced planes were able to beat an F-22. It was previously reported that a T-38 Talon "shot down" an F-22 during a practice dogfight.

Combat statistics for the F-22 Dogfight

F-22 Raptor Stealth Fighter

U.S. F-22s flew to the United Arab Emirates in November 2009 to train with the French Air Force (Rafales), the British Royal Air Force (Typhoons), and the UAE Air Force. (Mirage 2000). Over the course of several days, pilots from every nation competed against one another in a variety of training evolutions.

When training against Rafale jets, the F-22 did a great job. It "shot down" six Rafales and got into five more "dogfights" with them. One Mirage 2000 from the UAE, however, "shot down" an F-22. As if that wasn't enough, a Rafale was able to beat an F-22 in a simulated dogfight, which was the world's most advanced fighter jet at the time.

After the USAF denied the incident, France's air force released footage from inside the Rafale cockpit that appeared to show the French pilot was in a position to "shoot down" his American colleague on multiple occasions.

The Rafale pilot flew at maximum efficiency to accomplish this. The French pilot reached 9Gs, and the audio in the video shows and hears how much he struggles at those extreme forces of gravity, which can cause fighter pilots to black out for a few seconds.

Is the F-22 Raptor Useless?

Is the F-22 Raptor Useless?

The French pilot was a skilled pilot who pushed the limits of his Rafale and did better than the American pilot he was up against. The F-22 is not a failure or a waste of money because of this. Instead, it highlights why the person wielding the stick matters.

The "Any Given Sunday/Day" theory holds sway among American jet fighter pilots, and it states that any plane can down a more advanced one on any given day. Even with today's state-of-the-art avionics, AI, and sensors, airmanship and flying skills remain paramount.

Furthermore, training deaths are exactly that: deaths. They aid pilots in practicing their skills and getting ready for actual flight. The F-22 Raptor is, without a doubt, the better plane, but the Rafale pilot showed that even the most cutting-edge equipment can be defeated by a skilled pilot.

The F-22 Raptor was the best fighter before the US stopped making it

Military and economic realities are at the heart of the answer. The United States' aviation industry reached its post-Cold War zenith in the late 1990s.

It also has the largest fleet of combat planes and is making the F-22 Raptor, which is the only fifth-generation fighter in the world. Only 187 were ever made because the U.S. government decided to stop supporting the plane by 2009. Why did they cancel the F-22 program?
Without a doubt, the F-22 Raptor is the best air superiority fighter in use today.

The primary enemy, the Soviet air force, went out of business while the fighter was still in development.

The F-22 also ran into the facts of the time. At the time, government officials thought that the $300 million price tag was too high because of the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the lack of a peer opponent. The economic recession, which started in 2008 and lasted until 2010, was another factor.

A New Era for the F-22 Raptor (And Fall)

The F-22 Raptor's background can be traced back to the 1980s. To keep the United States at the top of air superiority fighters, the US Air Force started looking for a replacement for the F-15C Eagle. The Northrop YF-23 and the Lockheed Martin YF-22 were both competing for the service's attention in 1990, and the YF-22 (later renamed the F-22 Raptor) ultimately won out.
The initial estimate for purchasing 750 of the new fighters by the United States Air Force was $26.2 billion (at $35 million per plane).

The George H. W. Bush administration reduced the purchase to 648 planes by 1990, when the Cold War was essentially over. 1997 saw a further decrease to 339, and 2003 saw yet another reduction to 277. In 2009, the number of planes was cut to 187, plus eight more that were used for testing and development, and production stopped.
It took a long time to get the program ready for release, too. The F-22 Raptor's progenitor, the Advanced Tactical Fighter project, kicked off in 1981.

The Raptor took its first trip in 1990, and by 2005, it was finally able to do everything it was designed to do. The F-15 Eagle, on the other hand, took only seven years, from 1965 to 1972, from design selection to first flight, and reached initial operating capability in 1976.

Simply put, the F-22's development time was significantly longer than that of the F-15. The Soviet Union was a rival superpower for many years, but it fell apart in 1991 and is now mostly forgotten.

Because the once-powerful Soviet Air Force was split up among the remaining republics, fighter development in the new countries was limited to improving existing designs like the MiG-29 and Su-30. In the 1990s, when the economy was bad, they were flown by pilots with few flight hours, and this wasn't a good enough reason to speed up production of the F-22. During this time, the F-22 also gained the ability to fly from the air to the ground, which made it more useful.
The F-22 fighter jet was another casualty of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. Spending money on fighting a peer competitor that didn't exist at the time would have been hard to justify given the massive cost of supporting two low-intensity conflict wars at once.
Even though it was never sent to Iraq or Afghanistan, the F-22 was often portrayed as a budget-busting threat to weapons systems that were very important to the US wars. People have said, fairly or not, that the F-22 program took money away from Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, which helped keep ground troops in Iraq and Afghanistan from getting killed by IEDs.

Because of its delayed release, the F-22 was also in competition with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that the F-22 program should be canceled because the F-35 was a cheaper plane with the same or even better capabilities than the F-22. After doing so, Gates suggested speeding up the F-35 program. Due to the program's history of cost overruns and delays, the Pentagon is not likely to meet Gates' original prediction that the US would have 1,700 F-35s by 2025. In 2009, the year the decision to halt F-22 production was made, the U.S. economy had already fallen by 8 percent due to the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, which began in 2008. In 2010, it was obvious that the recession would last, and the recovery is only partially complete. This made it even more important to deal with urgent security issues instead of betting on a big war between big powers, which seemed very unlikely in 2009.

Is It Possible That the United States Made a Huge Mistake?

With eight years of hindsight behind us, the verdict of history on the F-22 program's cancellation is mixed. On the one hand, getting rid of this program made it possible to move resources to more important tactical projects. Spending billions on MRAP production was unquestionably a lifesaver.
But the world has changed again in those years, and both the Chinese and Russian Air Forces are in the middle of large-scale modernization projects. This is happening at the same time that both countries are becoming more aggressive on the world stage. The Chinese J-20 and FC-31, the Russian/Indian T-50, and the U.S. F-22 Raptor are all fifth-generation planes that are still in development.

When Secretary Gates scrapped the F-22 in 2009, none of these planes even existed. People who don't agree with the decision say that the Department of Defense is risking much worse wars by giving up a weapon that could keep other countries from starting big-power wars.
The F-22 Raptor didn't work out because of a number of things, but one possible root cause was that the program took too long to finish, leaving it open to problems from the outside world.

Unfortunately, the F-22 isn't the first or last "wonder weapon" to meet an untimely end.

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