Photo: via WikimediaCommons
Problems have plagued the F-22 Raptor since its inception.Flaking, toxic stealth coating with equally toxic glue. International dateline software glitches. Pilots nearly passing out from lack of oxygen and the feared “Raptor Cough.”
So the jet went through a battery of extensive tests, over many years, only for one general to suggest something completely unrelated to the configuration of the plane’s innards: Maybe human beings just weren’t physiologically equipped to max out the attributes of this total sky carnivore.
Like a spaceship in the sky; toasting competition with two Pratt and Whitney 119 Turbofan engines, allowing for an unprecedented turning radius to speed ratio.
True story: The Air Force ordered 381. Total Raptors built: 187. And for good reason — they were a total waste of money.
Why? Because by the time Russia and China got around to the development phases of their 5th Gen jets, the U.S. was already working on the F-35.
Which means that from 2003 to 2011, there were literally no foreign counterparts willing to take on the F-22.
Now there were problems with the F-22, sure, but a machine so precise can't help but fall victim to imprecise human hands.
Seeking to cut costs, ejection seats were old. Bad glue caused flaking of toxic stealth coating. Oxygenation systems caught flak again and again.
Finally, On 19 September 2012, after years of costly dissections, USAF General Gilmary M. Hostage III said the problems were not about hardware, but the 'human physiology' of the pilots.
Pilots would need to undergo special training to learn how to properly breathe while handling the F-22's 'supermaneuverability' under high g-forces.
International demand for a fighter has never been so high — and for good reason, the U.S. government has put an embargo on the F-22's sale.
She would largely exist in the dual shadows of a limited combat role and all the talk about her replacement, the F-35.
Combat was limited though for aforementioned reasons — she had no competition. So the bird served more as a deterrent than anything else (which is just as good).
Deterrent or not, the F-22 could fight. Though mostly outfitted with air superiority weapons, she could also carry bunker busters and guided munitions.
The F-22 also came in several flavours, finding service in six different Air Force Commands, flying over several different regions and terrains.
Just the presence of F-22s in the UAE, 200 miles from Iran, prompted a startled response from Iran's Defence Minister.
Startled as he should have been: The bunker-busting version of the F-22 put muscle behind Washington's nuclear inspection talks.
Though the F-22 never met a foe in the sky, the former Air Marshall and Australian defence Force Chief called it 'the most outstanding fighter plane ever built.'
And because she never has scored a kill in the sky, it's our opinion the F-22 Raptor embodied this Sun Tzu quote: 'Make your enemies surrender without a fight.'
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