Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor

Josh_TN

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Almost any significant F-22 engine or avionics upgrade would involve so much work, new technology, and R&D that it simply be a new aircraft. It got caught in a technological and production dead end and most of its subcontractors don't exist any more. The F-15EX works because it *is* a new aircraft, even if the original airframe design is old. As someone noted, it has been in continual production with incremental improvements for four decades. I don't think it would be especially cost effective to upgrade the C's to to EX standard either, hence new builds.
 

kaiserd

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Technically possible to build “new” F-22s.
But likely prohibitively expensive from a cost/ capability trade-off versus NGAD-like new airframe with the later likely significantly superior in availability rates, sustainability etc.
I’m a big fan of the F-22, hopefully we will see existing airframes significantly updated to make maximum use of them over a long life.
But as other contributors have already noted these updates will have to strike a reasonable balance in terms of cost versus capability and service life gained.
 

BDF

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Technically possible to build “new” F-22s.
But likely prohibitively expensive from a cost/ capability trade-off versus NGAD-like new airframe with the later likely significantly superior in availability rates, sustainability etc.
I’m a big fan of the F-22, hopefully we will see existing airframes significantly updated to make maximum use of them over a long life.
But as other contributors have already noted these updates will have to strike a reasonable balance in terms of cost versus capability and service life gained.
This. I'm a huge Raptor fan too, but its time to move on. Its a 30 year old design and doesn't meet our current security challenges. We need broadband LO, deep magazines and double the radius. To say nothing of all the other avionic and sensor improvements that will be needed. We need to get this right and build more than a couple hundred.
 

BDF

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It is a good decision, the fleet of the F-22 is so small this is the time to build NGAD, B-21 and NGAD will be surely the ultimate fleet of air combat, I don't think there is a need now for enormous fleet of combat aircraft , 50 B-21 + 200 NGAD and F-35, hypersonic weapon , space weapon is enough to defeat any adversary in the futur.
We need much more B-21s and NGADs than this. We need the ability to operate at much further distances than we do currently; this includes the capabilities with the F-35. I'd argue we need 200+ B-21s, 400ish NGADs (assuming there's a "core" airframe to the "system of system") and truncate the F-35 buy at the end of the buy. Fill the rest with attritible and lower capability UASes. We need to shift our combat portfolio to deeper strike and stand off persistence and move away from being so fighter centric. My $0.02
 

Hanz2k

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If the NGAD strategy of Agile developement will be sustained then rather please expect no more than 70 airframes. Within 5 years from NGAD fielded we should hear about new platform testing - most probably this is ALREADY in design :). Interesting part will be if it will be enhanced NGAD airframe or completely new one.
 

Colonial-Marine

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This is a terrible choice in my meaningless opinion. Even with the foolishly curtailed production run those are still roughly 180 aircraft with first class performance characteristics and modern (as of now) avionics. If they can keep comparatively ancient F-15C/Ds upgraded and flying for as long as we have we ought to be able to do the same with these F-22As.

As for the idea of new F-22s it would certainly be costly but if we really care about maintaining air superiority it would probably be the best way to do it until a NGAD design is ready. With all of this talk about digital engineering and rapid prototyping why can't that be applied to an existing design to speed up the work required somewhat? Make the avionics as common with the F-35 as possible.
 

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About the only thing the F-22 has over an F-35 is kinematic performance. An F-35 is superior in most any other measurable way. I think a much better short term option would be to stretch out and re-engine the F-35 to optimize it as an interceptor. That would be far easier to do than redesigning the F-22 and re-establishing a product line. The F-35A suffers from poor aerodynamics driven by the length limitations of the USMC; if you stretched the fuselage out you could achieve much better top speed and acceleration even with the current engine. It already is a borderline supercruise design.

But I still think focusing on NGAD is the best option of all.
 

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It definitely would, but the reason I said they'd likely be larger diameter is that when P&W (or maybe it was GE) was talking about making an adaptive cycle engine for the F-35, they were uncertain if they could get one to fit in the same bay that the F135 fits, even though the XA100 and XA101 are designed to match the approximate dimensions of the F135. It does appear they're able to do this, hence why P&W is offering an adaptive cycle engine as part of their F135 "Growth Option 2" engine, but if they were concerned about matching the size of an F135, they'd presumably have even more trouble matching an F119 (which AFAIK has a similar sized engine core, but a thinner bypass duct and smaller fan module). As the tech matures I'm sure it'd be possible, but in a short-term timeframe I'm not sure it'd be feasible.
Yes getting a higher max BPR on the same diameter may be difficult even with design (OPR) improvements. But a smaller variable core with upgraded technology would yield at least the same thrust while achieving way better TSFC at subsonic speed. All the planes with similar engine dimensions (F100/F110/F119) may benefit ultimately.
The kind of modifications we're talking about for the F-22 are a fair bit more drastic than going from an F-15E to F-15EX. A lot of the new avionics being built for F-15EX have been under development for and funded for other F-15 variants as well. EPAWSS for example was originally being developed for the F-15C and F-15E; it's currently expected to cost $1.3B to develop and cost $4 billion to procure 361 sets through to 2024.
Probably derived from the fact that no F-22C was developed. At some point (say mid platform design life) you need to change the stuffing of the plane and that should be good in many regards, since new technology has superior parameters and integration and also you have essentially all you need already in the F-35. This was the idea floated time ago by Lockheed when they proposed to make a hybrid with the F-22 airframe and F-35 avionics and get the Japanese to pay for it. It should be US that pays it, that is all that is needed. You can think of many instances when this type of upgrade was done recently in many other planes and I see no fundamental reason why the F-22 should be the exception.
F-15EXs (being newly-built airframes) should be around for a long time as a bomb truck and ANG civil airspace defense jet, the F-16 is more of an unknown - with the recent SLEPs they should be safe to fly until 2048, but in contrast, the last USAF F-35A is theoretically meant to roll out of Fort Worth in 2044. I expect it'll all depend on how many F-35s the USAF can afford to sustain and what options are available by the 2030s. Maybe fewer F-35s get purchased and the F-16 fleet has to keep flying a little longer, through to the 2040s until some unmanned system is in service in sufficient quantities to take their place (and for some reason don't count towards the "4+1" airframes being discussed by Brown).
If F-22 is retired but F-16 flies into the 2040's then something is very wrong. I assume at the end of this decade things will have already changed so much in air power that current F-16s will not be an option as a frontline fighter for US other than as an unmanned platform or something like that, unless a serious modernization program is performed.
Most fighters don't contain the same level of software and avionics complexity as an F-22. The F-35 is having >$14 billion spent on Block 4; a lot of that is in procurement of new hardware for several hundred jets, but I can't see the F-22's upgrade being any less than that, especially considering that you're starting from a less capable baseline. If you're building brand-new F-22s to facilitate the airframe modifications mentioned above then we're also talking about tens of billions more on top of that.
The cost is a constant in US MIC. Because as some propose here, when the moment of opting between the reasonable and easy options (modernize F-22) and the ones that hold the promise of overwhelming superiority (NGAD), the later always trump the former and excuses are made up to push the decision makers in that direction by artificially inflating prices of modernization programs that other countries (and even other manufacturers locally) are doing the whole time at costs that are orders of magnitude lower. Since this need for ultimate technology is demanded by the posture of expeditionary forces facing peer rivals at their territories and that is a mandate of foreign policy, what we see with cancellation of F-22 and betting all in NGAD is US doing the same as before but expecting it to work differently. Putting all the cards in the hands of the suppliers and asking them the moon is not compatible with decent prices, even less when the technological gap is being undercut at tremendous speeds by other countries. A change of military posture is a must for USAF and it will trivially lead to solving most of the huge problems being exposed currently. Just my opinion and of course nobody will agree, but I am confident time will prove this is more right than wrong.
 

Dragon029

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These new articles provide additional clarification on what's being talked about with the F-22's retirement:

So in short, they want to begin retiring F-22s in around 2030 as NGAD comes online, and then retire it on a milestone / event basis - the USAF appears to be charging ahead with some form of Roper's concept of the digital century series where NGAD may get a new airframe every 5-8 years. Either way though, this means they could have a rapid ramp of NGAD production that results in the total fleet being delivered in the mid-2030s, at which point the F-22 would be completely retired.

There's a number of other details in those articles about NGAD and also some updates on the whole potential F-16 clean-sheet replacement idea, but I'll post those in other threads.

But a smaller variable core with upgraded technology would yield at least the same thrust while achieving way better TSFC at subsonic speed. All the planes with similar engine dimensions (F100/F110/F119) may benefit ultimately.
Remember though that they were saying that the F135's diameter was already challenging for incorporating a 3rd stream; F119s would be even more difficult. Either way though, yes it would be nice to have smaller adaptive cycle engines available.
At some point (say mid platform design life) you need to change the stuffing of the plane and that should be good in many regards, since new technology has superior parameters and integration and also you have essentially all you need already in the F-35.
As mentioned however, that kind of series of modifications is going to be very expensive, to the point that NGAD has a good chance of being comparable in price for a superior package.
If F-22 is retired but F-16 flies into the 2040's then something is very wrong.
They're not intending the F-16 to be a frontline fighter, it'd be one of the workhorses putting warheads on foreheads after airspace has been made more permissive by NGADs, B-21s and F-35s. Only the newer block F-16s (already in USAF service) would be retained, and the potential for an F-16 clean-sheet low-end replacement or the procurement of new-build F-16s (Block 70/72s or newer) is also being considered. Brown says however that what happens with the F-16 and its replacement is 6-8 years away from being decided.
The cost is a constant in US MIC.
How? Writing 8 million lines of code takes longer and more money than writing 2 million lines of code.
when the moment of opting between the reasonable and easy options (modernize F-22) and the ones that hold the promise of overwhelming superiority (NGAD), the later always trump the former and excuses are made up to push the decision makers in that direction by artificially inflating prices of modernization programs that other countries (and even other manufacturers locally) are doing the whole time at costs that are orders of magnitude lower.
Nobody is modifying their jets to add 30-50% more range, upgrade their core avionics by by 20 years, replace the skin of their jets with new materials, etc
Since this need for ultimate technology is demanded by the posture of expeditionary forces facing peer rivals at their territories and that is a mandate of foreign policy, what we see with cancellation of F-22 and betting all in NGAD is US doing the same as before but expecting it to work differently. Putting all the cards in the hands of the suppliers and asking them the moon is not compatible with decent prices, even less when the technological gap is being undercut at tremendous speeds by other countries. A change of military posture is a must for USAF and it will trivially lead to solving most of the huge problems being exposed currently. Just my opinion and of course nobody will agree, but I am confident time will prove this is more right than wrong.
NGAD is not a repeat of recent programs; arguably there hasn't been anything like it since the 60s. Views on IP ownership and private vs government cost efficiency has changed thanks to the flaws of the JSF program. According to USAF officials, NGAD is progressing better than expected, though they do still have a long road ahead of them.
As for changing military posture, I'm not sure what you're suggesting - if you're suggesting that the USAF should reconsider what kind of capabilities they need to provide and what foes they need to prepare against, then that's not up to them, it's up to Congress and both present + future administrations.
 

LMFS

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So in short, they want to begin retiring F-22s in around 2030 as NGAD comes online, and then retire it on a milestone / event basis - the USAF appears to be charging ahead with some form of Roper's concept of the digital century series where NGAD may get a new airframe every 5-8 years. Either way though, this means they could have a rapid ramp of NGAD production that results in the total fleet being delivered in the mid-2030s, at which point the F-22 would be completely retired.
I am not convinced about those NGAD schedules at all, they sound just like the early JSF promises to me, before reality kicked in. You cannot have your cake and eat it too, you cannot go for the absolutely best and discard the adequate and hope for cost and schedule to behave just like you want. Compounding the problems: planes are increasingly complex systems with every passing generation, plus the advantages of digital engineering are being wildly overhyped, because everybody out there is doing it already, US rivals included. Like said, doing the same and expecting different results is not a good strategy.
There's a number of other details in those articles about NGAD and also some updates on the whole potential F-16 clean-sheet replacement idea, but I'll post those in other threads.
Please do it, that is quite interesting
As mentioned however, that kind of series of modifications is going to be very expensive, to the point that NGAD has a good chance of being comparable in price for a superior package.
That is the same logic trap previous programs fell into. A new plane is always going to be more expensive than upgrading an existing one, always, and avionics change significantly faster than air vehicle. Platforms are increasingly more complex and after 20 years it is expedient to do a big modernization so the already tried and tested vehicle can de reused while it is still capable enough. Doing anything else is either wasting resources or points to a flawed design in the F-22. By now the F-22 should have at least modern digital links and upgraded mission computers. By 2025 it should receive a major upgrade with new engines (adaptive?), better use of the side bays, cheek arrays, DIRCM, IRST, new radar and get any unreliable systems and features removed, just to name a few obvious items. Airframe redesigns are possible too and will be much cheaper because you start your work with many boxes already ticked.
How? Writing 8 million lines of code takes longer and more money than writing 2 million lines of code.
Sorry I should have specified that high cost is a constant. For the reasons that I was outlining above.
Nobody is modifying their jets to add 30-50% more range, upgrade their core avionics by by 20 years, replace the skin of their jets with new materials, etc
But they are. MiG-35 got a 50% internal fuel increase and new structure, completely new digital avionics and systems, F-15EX has new structure and avionics too. Gripen NG had also changes in landing gear position, avionics, 40% extra fuel etc., F/A-18E/F is a complete redesign. Not to talk about Flankers developing naval Su-33, 30% bigger Su-34 armored bomber, canard twin seater Su-30 or completely revamped Su-35 from the original Su-27 design. Or all the versions tested from the F-16. If you dump what you have and start from zero, it is going to take time and it is going to be expensive.
As for changing military posture, I'm not sure what you're suggesting - if you're suggesting that the USAF should reconsider what kind of capabilities they need to provide and what foes they need to prepare against, then that's not up to them, it's up to Congress and both present + future administrations.
Yes that is in essence what I said, it all comes dictated top down and once that may change, these complex issues would get a very simple solution to them.
 
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sferrin

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What is NGAD supposed to have, that cannot be installed in a potential F-22C? Or how is it going to be cheaper to develop it from scratch, than evolving an existing model? I mean, it is hard to understand that in the fleet they are proposing there is still space for the F-15, but not for the F-22, it does not really make sense.
The biggest advantages would be a longer range, greater power and thermal capacity, possibly larger weapon bays, likely (slightly) larger-diameter adaptive cycle engines, as well as a more maintainable and likely more broadband low observability.

To make any of these modifications would require considerable structural work that would essentially require an F-22 production line to be re-opened. Between the RDT&E and the production line re-opening you'd be paying comparable money $$$ to what NGAD is likely to cost, but you'd be getting a vehicle pointlessly constrained by outdated design requirements.

The thing that has me rather intrigued is what kind of timeframe they'd be looking at retiring the F-22s and how this might affect the mid-life upgrade that's been loosely discussed over the years. If they're talking about F-22's being retired by the 2040s (ie maybe just a decade sooner than previously planned) then they'll likely still need to do a big MLU to keep the F-22 relevant through to that point. If they're talking about retiring it this decade however, they can probably avoid trying to upgrade the F-22 beyond maybe one or two more minor increment upgrades.

This could potentially be a big factor in the analysis because the F-22's avionics architecture is apparently not very conducive to upgrades and modifications. Like whereas the F-35's sensor fusion engine doesn't care what a sensor is, so long as it abides by its VSIM standards, the F-22's fusion engine is apparently based on a more low-level form of integration that'd make replacing its radar or adding EO/IR sensors more complicated. The F-22's core processors and cockpit are also somewhat badly in need of an upgrade, and it's my understanding that it'd also likely need the databuses / intra-vehicle networking upgraded, which is no easy task. Basically a proper F-22 MLU could make the F-35's ~$14 billion Block 4 program look cheap.
As long as they don't start retiring F-22s before NGAD starts delivering. Let's not be so stupid as to retire the F-22 and then cancel NGAD.
 

Foo Fighter

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You HAD to jinx it, Anyone care to order their F-22 shards/memorabilia now? Going VERY expensively and decadently....
 

FighterJock

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What is NGAD supposed to have, that cannot be installed in a potential F-22C? Or how is it going to be cheaper to develop it from scratch, than evolving an existing model? I mean, it is hard to understand that in the fleet they are proposing there is still space for the F-15, but not for the F-22, it does not really make sense.
The biggest advantages would be a longer range, greater power and thermal capacity, possibly larger weapon bays, likely (slightly) larger-diameter adaptive cycle engines, as well as a more maintainable and likely more broadband low observability.

To make any of these modifications would require considerable structural work that would essentially require an F-22 production line to be re-opened. Between the RDT&E and the production line re-opening you'd be paying comparable money $$$ to what NGAD is likely to cost, but you'd be getting a vehicle pointlessly constrained by outdated design requirements.

The thing that has me rather intrigued is what kind of timeframe they'd be looking at retiring the F-22s and how this might affect the mid-life upgrade that's been loosely discussed over the years. If they're talking about F-22's being retired by the 2040s (ie maybe just a decade sooner than previously planned) then they'll likely still need to do a big MLU to keep the F-22 relevant through to that point. If they're talking about retiring it this decade however, they can probably avoid trying to upgrade the F-22 beyond maybe one or two more minor increment upgrades.

This could potentially be a big factor in the analysis because the F-22's avionics architecture is apparently not very conducive to upgrades and modifications. Like whereas the F-35's sensor fusion engine doesn't care what a sensor is, so long as it abides by its VSIM standards, the F-22's fusion engine is apparently based on a more low-level form of integration that'd make replacing its radar or adding EO/IR sensors more complicated. The F-22's core processors and cockpit are also somewhat badly in need of an upgrade, and it's my understanding that it'd also likely need the databuses / intra-vehicle networking upgraded, which is no easy task. Basically a proper F-22 MLU could make the F-35's ~$14 billion Block 4 program look cheap.
As long as they don't start retiring F-22s before NGAD starts delivering. Let's not be so stupid as to retire the F-22 and then cancel NGAD.

Let's hope that the USAF are not so stupid as to cancel the F-22 and NGAD as well, that would be the biggest mistake in the USAF's entire history if they did.
 

sferrin

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What is NGAD supposed to have, that cannot be installed in a potential F-22C? Or how is it going to be cheaper to develop it from scratch, than evolving an existing model? I mean, it is hard to understand that in the fleet they are proposing there is still space for the F-15, but not for the F-22, it does not really make sense.
The biggest advantages would be a longer range, greater power and thermal capacity, possibly larger weapon bays, likely (slightly) larger-diameter adaptive cycle engines, as well as a more maintainable and likely more broadband low observability.

To make any of these modifications would require considerable structural work that would essentially require an F-22 production line to be re-opened. Between the RDT&E and the production line re-opening you'd be paying comparable money $$$ to what NGAD is likely to cost, but you'd be getting a vehicle pointlessly constrained by outdated design requirements.

The thing that has me rather intrigued is what kind of timeframe they'd be looking at retiring the F-22s and how this might affect the mid-life upgrade that's been loosely discussed over the years. If they're talking about F-22's being retired by the 2040s (ie maybe just a decade sooner than previously planned) then they'll likely still need to do a big MLU to keep the F-22 relevant through to that point. If they're talking about retiring it this decade however, they can probably avoid trying to upgrade the F-22 beyond maybe one or two more minor increment upgrades.

This could potentially be a big factor in the analysis because the F-22's avionics architecture is apparently not very conducive to upgrades and modifications. Like whereas the F-35's sensor fusion engine doesn't care what a sensor is, so long as it abides by its VSIM standards, the F-22's fusion engine is apparently based on a more low-level form of integration that'd make replacing its radar or adding EO/IR sensors more complicated. The F-22's core processors and cockpit are also somewhat badly in need of an upgrade, and it's my understanding that it'd also likely need the databuses / intra-vehicle networking upgraded, which is no easy task. Basically a proper F-22 MLU could make the F-35's ~$14 billion Block 4 program look cheap.
As long as they don't start retiring F-22s before NGAD starts delivering. Let's not be so stupid as to retire the F-22 and then cancel NGAD.

Let's hope that the USAF are not so stupid as to cancel the F-22 and NGAD as well, that would be the biggest mistake in the USAF's entire history if they did.
Kinda difficult to cancel the F-22 as it's production run has completed.
 

FighterJock

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What is NGAD supposed to have, that cannot be installed in a potential F-22C? Or how is it going to be cheaper to develop it from scratch, than evolving an existing model? I mean, it is hard to understand that in the fleet they are proposing there is still space for the F-15, but not for the F-22, it does not really make sense.
The biggest advantages would be a longer range, greater power and thermal capacity, possibly larger weapon bays, likely (slightly) larger-diameter adaptive cycle engines, as well as a more maintainable and likely more broadband low observability.

To make any of these modifications would require considerable structural work that would essentially require an F-22 production line to be re-opened. Between the RDT&E and the production line re-opening you'd be paying comparable money $$$ to what NGAD is likely to cost, but you'd be getting a vehicle pointlessly constrained by outdated design requirements.

The thing that has me rather intrigued is what kind of timeframe they'd be looking at retiring the F-22s and how this might affect the mid-life upgrade that's been loosely discussed over the years. If they're talking about F-22's being retired by the 2040s (ie maybe just a decade sooner than previously planned) then they'll likely still need to do a big MLU to keep the F-22 relevant through to that point. If they're talking about retiring it this decade however, they can probably avoid trying to upgrade the F-22 beyond maybe one or two more minor increment upgrades.

This could potentially be a big factor in the analysis because the F-22's avionics architecture is apparently not very conducive to upgrades and modifications. Like whereas the F-35's sensor fusion engine doesn't care what a sensor is, so long as it abides by its VSIM standards, the F-22's fusion engine is apparently based on a more low-level form of integration that'd make replacing its radar or adding EO/IR sensors more complicated. The F-22's core processors and cockpit are also somewhat badly in need of an upgrade, and it's my understanding that it'd also likely need the databuses / intra-vehicle networking upgraded, which is no easy task. Basically a proper F-22 MLU could make the F-35's ~$14 billion Block 4 program look cheap.
As long as they don't start retiring F-22s before NGAD starts delivering. Let's not be so stupid as to retire the F-22 and then cancel NGAD.

Let's hope that the USAF are not so stupid as to cancel the F-22 and NGAD as well, that would be the biggest mistake in the USAF's entire history if they did.
Kinda difficult to cancel the F-22 as it's production run has completed.

Not again! I meant to say retire the F-22. Damn it!!!
 

NUSNA_Moebius

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A single seat light fighter version of the T-7A makes more sense to me than building more F-16s or developing an altogether new plane to replace it. T-7A has room to grow into the roles the F-16 occupies.
 

Firefinder

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That is the same logic trap previous programs fell into. A new plane is always going to be more expensive than upgrading an existing one, always, and avionics change significantly faster than air vehicle. Platforms are increasingly more complex and after 20 years it is expedient to do a big modernization so the already tried and tested vehicle can de reused while it is still capable enough. Doing anything else is either wasting resources or points to a flawed design in the F-22. By now the F-22 should have at least modern digital links and upgraded mission computers. By 2025 it should receive a major upgrade with new engines (adaptive?), better use of the side bays, cheek arrays, DIRCM, IRST, new radar and get any unreliable systems and features removed, just to name a few obvious items. Airframe redesigns are possible too and will be much cheaper because you start your work with many boxes already ticked.
You forgotten to add in a very important and expensive thing into the new plane cost.

The setting up of the productions lines.

The AIr Force wants more planes in addition to all the new shiny tech.

That is impossible to do with the F22 cause the production line is not there any more. To make more Lockmark is going to need rebuild that to make more.

And updating the existing air frames with larger engines?

That is ALSO GOING TO NEED THE LINE TO DO. Cause you be changing the Air Frame in a major way, you need to have the proper tools to do so. And the Tools for the F22 is long gone.

The reason why Boeing manage to do similar with the F15s is because the F15 still has a full on production line that they can modified to do that is still active. F22 does not have that.


And rebuilding that line plus the cost of the redesigning the F22 will new engines will cost just as much as making a new plane design. So it make more sense to just design a new plane to build with those built in with the knowledge gain from the F22.
 

LMFS

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You forgotten to add in a very important and expensive thing into the new plane cost.

The setting up of the productions lines.
Not exactly forgotten, just taken for granted that to keep one plane in operation you need to be able to repair, modernize and build it in enough quantities, otherwise how could war losses be sustained? That the USAF cannot recover from accidents and events like the Florida hurricane is not acceptable under a force planing point of view.

That a redesign of a known plane and known production line costs as much as the development of new technology and solutions that need to be tested and validated from zero cannot be sustained in view of how development and industrialization of complex systems work. Development starts from virtually "zero certainty" and progresses slowly through iterative processes into ever higher levels of knowledge of the system parts and their interaction in ever more complex modes and scenarios. When a plane has been tested for more than 10 years and operated for 15 like the F-22, everything is pretty much known and modifications can be made where just a small proportion of the relevant elements change and most of their interactions are known. To put it in other words, the structure of what already exists allows to build within the frame of strongly increased certainty / reduced complexity. This is rather elementary in terms of development management and allows to see that the rationale argued in the defence media to bolster NGAD at the expense of F-22 is not technically sound and rather is to be seen as a narrative building attempt.

I struggle to see why the F-22 is suddenly uninteresting and not worth the effort. It remains to this day probably the most advanced and capable platform in operation, all considered, for air superiority. China is not quite there with the engines and Russia not there with quantities, and it will remain like that for a while, more if the F-22 platform is duly maintained and upgraded. On the other hand, the expeditionary character envisaged for NGAD is IMO not well thought and pushes the development into a high risk / high cost profile that is excellent for contractors but not for the services, so the USAF needs, mandatorily, to invest in a B plan and that can only be a modernized F-22. Again this is risk management 101 but routinely pretty much the opposite has been the MO of military procurement.
 

Firefinder

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You forgotten to add in a very important and expensive thing into the new plane cost.

The setting up of the productions lines.
Not exactly forgotten, just taken for granted that to keep one plane in operation you need to be able to repair, modernize and build it in enough quantities, otherwise how could war losses be sustained? That the USAF cannot recover from accidents and events like the Florida hurricane is not acceptable under a force planing point of view.

That a redesign of a known plane and known production line costs as much as the development of new technology and solutions that need to be tested and validated from zero cannot be sustained in view of how development and industrialization of complex systems work. Development starts from virtually "zero certainty" and progresses slowly through iterative processes into ever higher levels of knowledge of the system parts and their interaction in ever more complex modes and scenarios. When a plane has been tested for more than 10 years and operated for 15 like the F-22, everything is pretty much known and modifications can be made where just a small proportion of the relevant elements change and most of their interactions are known. To put it in other words, the structure of what already exists allows to build within the frame of strongly increased certainty / reduced complexity. This is rather elementary in terms of development management and allows to see that the rationale argued in the defence media to bolster NGAD at the expense of F-22 is not technically sound and rather is to be seen as a narrative building attempt.

I struggle to see why the F-22 is suddenly uninteresting and not worth the effort. It remains to this day probably the most advanced and capable platform in operation, all considered, for air superiority. China is not quite there with the engines and Russia not there with quantities, and it will remain like that for a while, more if the F-22 platform is duly maintained and upgraded. On the other hand, the expeditionary character envisaged for NGAD is IMO not well thought and pushes the development into a high risk / high cost profile that is excellent for contractors but not for the services, so the USAF needs, mandatorily, to invest in a B plan and that can only be a modernized F-22. Again this is risk management 101 but routinely pretty much the opposite has been the MO of military procurement.
The F22 is uninteresting in that its is over 30 years old design, before adding it is in the same boat as the F14 was before it post 1990.

High maintance, low usage, high cost, and barely supported.

The Thing was design in the late 80s boss, with all that implies. It was design to fight Soviets over Europe. Which has given it some major limitions in the upgrade ability department that can only be fix by literaly rebuilding the plane from the tires up. Preferably with a new airframe instead of adapting an existing one. The engines have already been touch on, you need to redesign the entire engine bay of the raptor to fit a different one in. Not easy even on the best of times with a full on production line still up for it.

Now let touch on something even more important. The RAM.

The stuff is shit compare to whats out there now. While the F22 is better then the F117s or B2s its is a maintance whore compares to the F35s, so much so that in areas where its not needed the Air Force says fuck it to save money. ANd because of how the RAM is needed to be design, you can't take the much better F35 or the newer stuff and slap it on a F22. The F22 RAM is a paint like substance while the F35 is more of ceramanic type deal. (The exact secret sauce is still a shotting worth secret.)

Then you have the major sticker. Range and payload.

The Raptor was again design to fight over EUROPE to gain and maintain air supremency so that the A10s, F15Es, F111s, F16, etc can help beat back the Soviet hoard. It was design to take off from England or Western Europe and slap down any Mig or SU that comes close. As such it did not need massive range to do its job. The F35 actually has more range then it and the military is feeling that that that plane needs more range. To increase the range you need to do major redesign for more fuel capacity and the newer Efficent engines which again needs a full Production line and not the maintance rigs to do.

But tankers-BUT NOTHING!

The Air Force does not have enough tankers to ensure that one can cover the Pacific that everyone is looking at being the next fight. Alot of the ones we have are ageing out while the replacements, once out of depevelopment hell, will not have the numbers to replace them all. Before adding in that everyone knows the Air Force playbook these days and have develop weapons specifically to take out the tankers from long range.

So more range is very much needed and is something you cant just modified the Raptor to do, you need to redesign it so much that its a new plane anyways.

Next is playload.

Now the F22 has a solid A2A playload, 6 AIM120s and 2 AIM9s is more then enough from most engagements. But... It lacks FLEXIBILITY. The F22 is very much an one trick pony, which is A2A. For A2G work that the Air Force has realized that it may be call to do cause its the only thing in the AO to do it, the Raptor can bring... Two 1000lB Jdams or 8 SBDS, and none of the Stand off weapons like JASSMs or JSOWs, or combine effects weapons. They simply dont fit in the bay. Which also hurts it for the newer A2A missiles like the AIM260, only expected to be carrying 2. To fix that means another redesign of the reframe.

Also they apperantly they want the NGAD to go faster as well cause why not and the only way to make the Raptor go faster is to modified the intake with variable ramps. You will need new planes for that.

Basically to get the Raptor to do what the Air Force wants from the NGAD you are going to get a brand new plane. Not even a F18 vs a FA18 or F16 vs F16XL differences but a utterly new aircraft.

And at that point... You may as well cut out the halfassness of modding the Raptor and make a new plane from scratch. Be simpler, faster, and easier in the long run.

Not cheaper cause of how the US industancy is set up, but faster will be the king.
 

Cannonfodder43

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The way I see it, if there was ever a window of time to restart Raptor production, it would be from 2010 - 2012, after the public debut of the Su-57 and J-20 prototypes that would lend credence to the merits of restarting production.

Between official shut down in 2009 and then there may still have been subcontractors, workers and tooling still around that could still be brought back to work on them with at least minimal difficulty. And if at all possible, then begin to incorporate new technologies into the "new Raptors" after everything is brought back online and into working order.

But the Raptor got caught up in the churn of the Recession, Middle East Conflicts and a thus far non-threatening China and Russia. With those geopolitical and economic pressures, people would be hard-pressed to sell continued production of the Raptor. And even within my proposed time window, F-35 derived technologies would not have been ready by any stretch to be incorporated into modernized Raptors.

Between production restart and the maturation of F-35 technologies, any newer F-22's may still be somewhat archaic under the hood by 2016/17. Quite possibly again negating much of the potential benefits.
 

AN/AWW-14(V)

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I like the idea save fraction of Raptors (and use non-flying for spare parts) as drones with satellite link for ultimate high-speed high-altitude delivery AMRAAMs, without entry in dogfight
remote control system will be fit in the cockpit
 
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TomcatViP

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I like the idea save fraction of Raptors (and use non-flying for spare parts)[...]
That's probably what a foreign air force will do once it has secured delivery of the phased-out Raptor fleet.
Sadly, the numbers of Raptor are not high enough to make it an interesting strategy for the US (in fact, the USAF has brought back to the line all possible Raptor already).
 

Foo Fighter

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If the F-22 was that bad, would they be flying them still? The F-35 components and skin coating could be used on the F-22 skin. The mix of F-22 and F-35 would give a mix of ability and range that would be symbiotic. I know there are people who decry anything that is not the next generation but honestly, how old is the F-35 program? Is the F-22 such a liability? Especially considering how long they are still going to serve and be upgrade.
 

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@Firefinder
I agree there have been changes in the type of capabilities you would like to have, but that is inherent to the way threats evolve and the time needed to develop planes. F-22 was conceptually outdated when commissioned, the same that happens to a extent with F-35 (originally planed to fully replaced F-16 and A-10 but now evolving to a different role) and with many other planes, and it can be the risk with NGAD. I still think this approach will lead to more problems in the future.
 

Dragon029

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If the F-22 was that bad, would they be flying them still? The F-35 components and skin coating could be used on the F-22 skin. The mix of F-22 and F-35 would give a mix of ability and range that would be symbiotic. I know there are people who decry anything that is not the next generation but honestly, how old is the F-35 program? Is the F-22 such a liability? Especially considering how long they are still going to serve and be upgrade.
The skin coatings can and AFAIK have been applied in some sense, but one of the key maintenance drivers with previous stealth aircraft's skins embedded into the composite with the F-35, so to get the same resilience against delamination you'd need to replace all the composite panels on the F-22, and that could possibly involve redesigning some access panels, sensor apertures, etc if the F-35's composites are thicker than the F-22's or vice versa.

Ultimately, if NGAD doesn't go terribly wrong, what will be the point in keeping the F-22 fleet?
 

Foo Fighter

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I hope it goes well, the concept IS the ideal. What happens in the real world is the test.
 

BDF

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About the only thing the F-22 has over an F-35 is kinematic performance. An F-35 is superior in most any other measurable way. I think a much better short term option would be to stretch out and re-engine the F-35 to optimize it as an interceptor. That would be far easier to do than redesigning the F-22 and re-establishing a product line. The F-35A suffers from poor aerodynamics driven by the length limitations of the USMC; if you stretched the fuselage out you could achieve much better top speed and acceleration even with the current engine. It already is a borderline supercruise design.

But I still think focusing on NGAD is the best option of all.
Kinematics are very important though. The Raptors speed/altitude advantage and the ability maneuver in those regimes is a significant advantage. Had the opportunity to have lunch with a F-15 IP when I was in Portland a few weeks ago. He's also qualified as a A-A mission commander and has participated in several LFEs with both the F-22 and '35. I asked about the viability of the F-35 as being the primary air superiority machine since I've heard this idea quite often. His perspective is that its a great all around jet but he felt that the mission set still requires a machine that specializes in that capability. He was obviously limited in what he could discuss but was adamant that there are capabilities the F-22 has that the F-35 cannot match that are important to the high end A-A fight. He was a funny guy and his final comment on the subject was "it's a great jet but there's a reason why we call it fat Amy!" It was a interesting convo to say the least!

Anyway to make the changes you suggest would be expensive, take time and probably only marginally better if better at all than the F-22 and almost certainly inferior to the NGAD concepts. I'm all for buying a ton of F-35s, especially now, but keep the Raptor going until the NGAD replaces it.
 

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@BDF

There was an article I read a couple years ago with a retired US airforce general or something, that said the same thing: one F-35 couldn't replace one F-22 due to kinematics, but, he went on to say, you could leverage F-35's sensor fusion and network centric capabilities to make up for poor kinematics. In that case you would need 8 F-35's to replace 2 F-22's and that's why it's important for the air force to get all of the planned F-35's (1763).

I'll try to find the article and post it here.
 

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The F-35 does bring a lot to the table in terms of ISR, even for air to air. But yeah, cruising at 50k feet at Mach 1.7 without reheat is pretty unparalleled in terms of engaging a target. I'm not trying minimize that, I'm just saying that refurbishing an F-22 is such an involved process you might as well build a new aircraft anyway. I'm sure they will see continued use until at least NGAD delivering a product, whenever that occurs. Hopefully that program isn't too ambitious; the B-21 program seems to be settling for modest goals and established technology and reaping the rewards in terms of program cost and time frame.
 

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That a redesign of a known plane and known production line costs as much as the development of new technology and solutions that need to be tested and validated from zero cannot be sustained in view of how development and industrialization of complex systems work. Development starts from virtually "zero certainty" and progresses slowly through iterative processes into ever higher levels of knowledge of the system parts and their interaction in ever more complex modes and scenarios. When a plane has been tested for more than 10 years and operated for 15 like the F-22, everything is pretty much known and modifications can be made where just a small proportion of the relevant elements change and most of their interactions are known.
The problem is that a lot of the F-22 data is not known, by this point. Suppliers are out of business. Institutional knowledge is gone. Tooling (which is important, but not the be-all end-all of producing aircraft) is of uncertain status. Many systems components just can't be found any more--the equipment that produced them is gone. Some materials--alloys, adhesives, composite fabrics, and more--may not be available any more. Many of the drawings probably exist only on paper/mylar, or in obsolete CAD files that can't be read directly any more.

There's a heck of a lot more to it than "just dust off the blueprints and make more parts". You really would have to reverse-engineer quite a bit. You'd have to find new suppliers and qualify brand-new systems even if they just do the same things the old ones did. You'll need to requalify your processes, especially things like composite curing, chemical and heat treatment, etc. You need to generate all-new manufacturing orders and production setups; the old stuff (if you can even find it) is written for the old production line that's gone now.

At that point you're at a significant fraction of the time and money it takes to make something brand new. Would you spend $20,000 repairing a 15 year old car, if you could buy a new one for $25,000?
 

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@BDF

There was an article I read a couple years ago with a retired US airforce general or something, that said the same thing: one F-35 couldn't replace one F-22 due to kinematics, but, he went on to say, you could leverage F-35's sensor fusion and network centric capabilities to make up for poor kinematics. In that case you would need 8 F-35's to replace 2 F-22's and that's why it's important for the air force to get all of the planned F-35's (1763).

I'll try to find the article and post it here.
It was in referencing to attacking a SAM site. It wasn't in reference to the A-A domain.
 

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The skin coatings can and AFAIK have been applied in some sense, but one of the key maintenance drivers with previous stealth aircraft's skins embedded into the composite with the F-35, so to get the same resilience against delamination you'd need to replace all the composite panels on the F-22, and that could possibly involve redesigning some access panels, sensor apertures, etc if the F-35's composites are thicker than the F-22's or vice versa.
Then redesign those panels and apertures, where is the problem?
Ultimately, if NGAD doesn't go terribly wrong, what will be the point in keeping the F-22 fleet?
If you don't upgrade the F-22 now, you will not have B plan in case NGAD goes wrong. And besides, what you learn for the F-22 can be of great use for the NGAD. This is again the basics of risk management, not that anybody in command seems to care.
At that point you're at a significant fraction of the time and money it takes to make something brand new. Would you spend $20,000 repairing a 15 year old car, if you could buy a new one for $25,000?
Because of that logic some people with dubious interests neglect the most basic support measures for planes in operation, so that in the future it is easier to discourage modernization programs from threatening juicy funding for high risk, alternative free ones. The same MO that lead to the current failed programs, applied all over again for the same reasons and with the same apparent "popular" support is something difficult to understand.
 

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The skin coatings can and AFAIK have been applied in some sense, but one of the key maintenance drivers with previous stealth aircraft's skins embedded into the composite with the F-35, so to get the same resilience against delamination you'd need to replace all the composite panels on the F-22, and that could possibly involve redesigning some access panels, sensor apertures, etc if the F-35's composites are thicker than the F-22's or vice versa.
Then redesign those panels and apertures, where is the problem?
Ultimately, if NGAD doesn't go terribly wrong, what will be the point in keeping the F-22 fleet?
If you don't upgrade the F-22 now, you will not have B plan in case NGAD goes wrong. And besides, what you learn for the F-22 can be of great use for the NGAD. This is again the basics of risk management, not that anybody in command seems to care.
At that point you're at a significant fraction of the time and money it takes to make something brand new. Would you spend $20,000 repairing a 15 year old car, if you could buy a new one for $25,000?
Because of that logic some people with dubious interests neglect the most basic support measures for planes in operation, so that in the future it is easier to discourage modernization programs from threatening juicy funding for high risk, alternative free ones. The same MO that lead to the current failed programs, applied all over again for the same reasons and with the same apparent "popular" support is something difficult to understand.

Why do you think rebuilding the F-22 production line would have less risk than NGAD? It’s a locked in vendor that holds the source code and would have all of the same risks as building a new aircraft, with basically no benefit. You seem to think that an F-22 rebuild would be devoid of risk despite the fact that it would be a brand new production line like a new aircraft.
 

gtg947h

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The skin coatings can and AFAIK have been applied in some sense, but one of the key maintenance drivers with previous stealth aircraft's skins embedded into the composite with the F-35, so to get the same resilience against delamination you'd need to replace all the composite panels on the F-22, and that could possibly involve redesigning some access panels, sensor apertures, etc if the F-35's composites are thicker than the F-22's or vice versa.
Then redesign those panels and apertures, where is the problem?

Where is the problem? The problem is that "just" redesigning the F-22 to use the F-35 skin materials means basically a complete redesign of the structure. You can't "just" substitute a different material with different physical properties. Best case, the material is basically equal in strength and stiffness to the old stuff and you see no thickness change. Then, you get to redo all of your loads analysis and your fatigue testing and your loads flight testing, recertify the LO properties, develop a new database of acceptable repairs, and stand up new manufacturing instructions specific to F-22 parts.

If you get any thickness change, now you're either altering the outer mold line of the aircraft (which means redoing your aero testing, your LO testing, and more), and/or you're having to redo all the internal structure to shrink it a bit and maintain that OML. And then you get to do all that testing and analysis work mentioned in the best case scenario.

If there's any significant differences in material properties, you get to have even more fun and pretty quickly you're going down the road of making a brand-new airplane design that just happens to look like an F-22 on the outside. And you still have to test it.


Few people not involved in things like this really understand what goes on to actually making them happen. Most people seem to think all the money goes into design... but a substantial part of the development funds go into testing and proving that your design does what you say it does and that you can build it repeatably, and doing all of the associated paperwork and tracking of your processes.
 

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Why do you think rebuilding the F-22 production line would have less risk than NGAD? It’s a locked in vendor that holds the source code and would have all of the same risks as building a new aircraft, with basically no benefit. You seem to think that an F-22 rebuild would be devoid of risk despite the fact that it would be a brand new production line like a new aircraft.
It is obvious that it would have way less risks, because it has already been done. As to the vendor thing, defence is not market economy since there is only one buyer and the issues are of existential relevance for the state. USAF establishing the prices of the F-35 lots for Lockheed should have made it clear for the ones still in doubt. Once US government gets serious about the issue (think of a war), Lockheed and the rest of involved vendors would get those lines operating again in a matter of months. I should not need to argue that US government has full authority on US based companies, even more on those working in strategic branches.
Where is the problem? The problem is that "just" redesigning the F-22 to use the F-35 skin materials means basically a complete redesign of the structure. You can't "just" substitute a different material with different physical properties. Best case, the material is basically equal in strength and stiffness to the old stuff and you see no thickness change. Then, you get to redo all of your loads analysis and your fatigue testing and your loads flight testing, recertify the LO properties, develop a new database of acceptable repairs, and stand up new manufacturing instructions specific to F-22 parts.

If you get any thickness change, now you're either altering the outer mold line of the aircraft (which means redoing your aero testing, your LO testing, and more), and/or you're having to redo all the internal structure to shrink it a bit and maintain that OML. And then you get to do all that testing and analysis work mentioned in the best case scenario.

If there's any significant differences in material properties, you get to have even more fun and pretty quickly you're going down the road of making a brand-new airplane design that just happens to look like an F-22 on the outside. And you still have to test it.
You don't know what the difference in properties and thickness of those panels is, and the improvement in technology in the time passed most probaly allows to fine tune the materials as required or even get better properties than the original ones. The tasks you mention are logical and still a fraction of the problems you will find with a completely new plane with new technologies. Somehow with NGAD everything will be 100% rosy despite that never been the case with such programs, but with a simple modernization of the F-22 everything will be as bad as it could and then some more, that is not technically serious. You say a change of some mm in the size of the plane demands to do the whole design again, right? How do CFTS get applied to planes then, instead of designing new platforms?
Few people not involved in things like this really understand what goes on to actually making them happen. Most people seem to think all the money goes into design... but a substantial part of the development funds go into testing and proving that your design does what you say it does and that you can build it repeatably, and doing all of the associated paperwork and tracking of your processes.t
That is precisely the issue, that I do have experience in development and program management, and many of these "worst practices" and "risk augmentation" measures used by US MIC would be considered outright negligence in any serious industry. A clean slate design has orders of magnitude more uncertainty that a modification of an existing design. That is a fact, sorry about it.
 

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That is precisely the issue, that I do have experience in development and program management, and many of these "worst practices" and "risk augmentation" measures used by US MIC would be considered outright negligence in any serious industry. A clean slate design has orders of magnitude more uncertainty that a modification of an existing design. That is a fact, sorry about it.
Good then here is a thought exercise.

Imagine coming back to a program you finish ten plus years ago. Its been dead that entire time with no one making sure it stays properly update with the current stuff. And you lost the notes three computers ago, and all the other support gear is long gone. And dont thinking about asking your former coworkers, they are either dead, blacklisted, to busy or trash their own notes long ago.

Exactly how easy will it be for you to get back in the saddle and get this barely a zombie of a program alive again?

It be a PITA that drive you to drink wouldn't it?

Now take that but you are on a different program that YOU HAVE NO CLUE ABOUT with only the handful of notes cause they are black out by some hyperactive squirrel with a marker years ago if not out right lost in the mess that is the archive. Oh and a bunch of critical materials are no longer even made being replace with something different years ago so now you have to mod the design around that before doing you own mods. But first you have to figure out how the design actually works, the stresses and the like, cause the last guy to know was killed two years ago. And the only other living one is blacklisted for selling secrets.

Basically you are told that you have make the FA22 Raptor a thing with only what you already know about it.

Starting fresh starting to look far better isn't it?

Cause the second one is how making the FA-22 Super Raptor will be like.
 

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Everything is doable in that domain as much as you have time and knowledge.

The paradox here is to have to invest significant amounts of money for something that would be outclassed in the next 20 years.
It won't bother much the USAF if that was about the a-10 but their Raptor is a key component in air dominance and that is paramount in the US strategic thinking.

Last but not least, those Raptors are probably not lost and could fill key allies defence needs in a synergistic improvement of our overall defense.
 

Firefinder

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Last but not least, those Raptors are probably not lost and could fill key allies defence needs in a synergistic improvement of our overall defense.
Sad thing is that the Raptor is far more likely to get a F14 Tomcat type of send off. Straight to the shredders, cause the thing is still one of the more advance planes out there and I cant see Congress going back on the NOT FOR SALE discussing they made over a decade ago.

Also have some more information on the whole retirement plan and the issues the Air Force has with the Raptor

Seems like the plan is to hopefully have the NGAD up and running by the end of the decade but there are plans to keep the Raptor running up to 2040 if needed. WIth the Raptor retirement in lockstepped on the NGAD planes development.

Also I am surprise A2A mag depth was consider an issue, A2G I can understand cause the F22 was design as a fighter first, but A2A? Must be the new A2A missiles getting bigger then expected or something...
 

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