Military Aviation

Did you know the US wanted to Export the F-22 Raptor but It wasn’t sold Abroad Because no Other Country Helped to pay for its Development?

Initially, the F-22 Raptor was allowed to be exported because few countries were willing to help pay for the aircraft development, but never did. Then which prohibited “the sale of the F-22 advanced tactical fighter to any foreign government.”

In the mid-1990s, Lockheed Martin developed and built the F-22, an extremely advanced tactical fighter that combined stealth, integrated avionics and maneuverability. The F-22 (that descended from the YF-22, the Raptor’s technology demonstrator pictured in the main image of this post and which first flew in 1990) was developed because the U.S. needed an aircraft that could both: Compete against the back then developed Su-27 Flanker and the MiG-29 Fulcrum as well as replacing the F-15 Eagle as America’s front-line dominance fighter.

Several U.S. Aerospace/Electrical Companies decided to partner with Lockheed Martin and create what is today known as the F-22 Raptor.

Manufacturers of the F-22

There were of course many other specialized companies that fabricated/constructed the very specific materials/avionics/pieces, but these companies have been defunct for some time now.

The F-22 Development cost was 66.7 Billion USD.

According to an interesting post appeared on Quora, only the U.S. government paid for the entire budget for the construction of the F-22 Raptor and since no other country at the time was willing to help pinch in to pay the tremendous amount of the final bill, they didn’t export it.

This print is available in multiple sizes from – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F-22A Raptor 192nd Fighter Wing, 149th Fighter Squadron, FF/04-4082 – Langley AFB, VA – 2014

The misleading part that most people seem to assume is that the F-22 Raptor had been banned from export. Initially, it was allowed to be exported because of the reason mentioned above, thus a few countries were willing to help pay, but never did.

Then Lockheed Martin decided to consider an export model, for the countries that were willing to obtain the aircraft, however, at the time, Congress enacted a law (H.R.2266 – Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 1998, Sec. 8117) which prohibited “approve or license the sale of the F-22 advanced tactical fighter to any foreign government.”

This model is available from AirModels – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS.

Thus, the F-22 could have been exported if the interested country would’ve helped pay the bill before this enactment came to exist.

By contrast several countries helped with the development and payment of the F-35. Having several countries help with the Lightning II construction, makes the F-35 appropriate for export.

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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  • Cool story... But I'd like to see some evidence the US actually wanted another country to help pay for the F-22's development costs - beyond a Quora post. The JSF program sought international cooperation from the start. The ATF program did not.

  • It may be a cool story, but is a story that isn't what actually happened.

    First, there was never any push by the US to get other nations to help pay to develop the F-22., and certainly that would have no relationship to whether or not it was exportable. Think about it for a second: The US never asked anyone to help pay for the development of the F-15, -16 or F/A-18, yet they've all been exported. Ditto the F-4. the F-104, the A-4 , the F-86, the UH-1, UH-60, CH-47,... get the picture? In fact, aside from the Harrier and the F-35, it's hard to think of a US warplane in which foreign nations participated in funding the development (What actually happened in the F-14 /Iran story is too complicated to go into here.) . The US happily exports aircraft it developed itself for its own use. In a number of cases, the price may be such that some of the funds help offset the development costs the US originally spent for itself, but that's not always the situation. In fact, I can't think of ANY case where the US refused to allow an aircraft to be exported to a particular nation simply because said nation didn't help pay for the development. That's simply not the case. The F-35 program has indeed solicited foreign funds for its development, but even here contributing only gets you more influence in the program and greater workshare. Whether those nations that haven't pitched in still get to buy the aircraft is determined by factors other than whether they contributed or not.

    In fact, the F-22 was so advanced and super secret that the US Didn't Want any other country to be involved in the development of the F-22, even if they had been willing to cough up R&D money that the US hadn't asked for anyway. We didn't want Anyone else to hae the kind of access you'd get if you helped pay for it, and no one was going to cough up a lot of money if they didn't get that access.

    The reason the F-22 was never exported is quite simple and widely known: Congress was so concerned about F-22 technology falling into the wrong hands that they repeatedly passed an amendment to successive DoD budgets that forbade any money from being used to market, sell or export any F-22, or even to develop a downgraded export version of the plane, as mentioned in the article. Google "Obey Amendment". By the time the Amendment was no longer being put in each budget, F-22 production had been terminated, so it didn't matter.

    During the years it was being produced, Japan wanted the F-22 to the point that they essentially offered almost a blank check, but it couldn't go anywhere for the reason I just stated . Heck! Japan has even offered to pay to put the plane back into production, but that's not feasible, it now represents old technology (it was designed in the late '80s) and wouldn't be a wise idea.

    BTW, $66.7 billion seems kind of high for the development cost since as the program wound down in 2011 the total program cost (which includes RDT&E, production and Military Construction) was just (just?) $67.3 billion

  • Exactly, Avman. It's difficult to maintain air superiority if you sell your state-of-the-art tech to everyone, even current allies. The US didn't invest billions just to up and sell immediately, they can profit from it when they upgrade.

  • Not sure that I understand this. I may not have the background that some of you guys have, but civilian aircraft are sold abroad without any of the international customers contributing a penny to development. It's a question of price. The Dev cost needs to be figured in

    • Difference between military and commercial are military aircraft like the F-22 are loaded with highly secret technology. And at the time congress believed it was so far advanced compared to what anyone had they didn’t want to sell it and let any of it’s tech into the hands of even our allies. It wasn’t a money thing as Japan offered to pay anything to be able to get the F-22 but our ever intelligent was afraid of anyone outside the US getting to have access to this technology. Even though the development took longer than originally planned making some of the electronics out of date the plane as a whole had so many advancements that 20 years later or adversaries are just now trying to build a competitive aircraft and not doing very good at it. I think the should reproduce the airframe but upgrade the all the electronics as the aircraft would be lighter, faster and even more lethal. But or leaders want new design even though this would save money and using the new technologies it would be the most advanced and lethal plane in the sky. Sorry for the long rant

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