The F-22 Raptor fleet is facing a shortage of Pratt & Whitney F119 engines since it has flown more than the service initially predicted.
On Jun. 22, 2020, Air Combat Command (ACC) commander said that the US Air Force (USAF) is looking to bolster its fleet of F-22s by taking some Raptors from the service’s formal training unit and reconfiguring them for combat operations.
“They’re already combat capable even without bringing them up to the higher standard. I’d certainly pick one of those over some of our legacy airplanes, if I had to go fight,” Gen. James “Mike” Holmes said. “One option would be to be able to turn them into a combat-coded squadron over the next several years.”
During a video teleconference hosted by the Air Force Association’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, Holmes told that the idea of repurposing some aircraft is primarily a “think piece” for ACC, National Defense Magazine reported.
“It is based on: Can we make that Reforge initiative work?” he said, referring to a new service plan meant to better train fighter pilots. “Then it’s also based on work that we’re doing as we look at our flying training units in general.”
Holmes explained that the ACC is working to make training curriculum and materials available to student pilots 24 hours a day so they can progress at their own pace. It also wants to continuously monitor students during training so instructors know when a trainee can advance from one step to the next, or when they need more time in one particular area.
“It gives us the opportunity to decrease the amount of time they spend in our flying training units, which means we don’t need as many aircraft and [simulators] dedicated to that, which means maybe you can repurpose some of those — since we are already paying to operate them — into additional combat capability without spending any extra money,” he said.
The Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor is the world’s first stealthy air dominance fighter. On May 12, 2005, the Raptor program achieved a historic milestone with the delivery of the first combat-capable Raptor to the 27th Fighter Squadron, 1st Fighter Wing, at Langley Air Force Base, Va. In January 2006 the 27th Fighter Squadron flew the first operational mission with the F-22 in support of Operation Noble Eagle (the official name given to the defense of U.S. borders).
From the very beginning, the F-22A exceeded the USAF’s expectations, and during exercises and deployments, it proved to be more than a match for any fighter opposing it.
During the highly realistic Exercise Northern Edge 2006, the F-22 proved itself against as many as 40 “enemy aircraft” during simulated battles. The Raptor pilots achieved a 108-to-zero “kill” ratio against the best F-15, F-16 and F-18 “adversaries.” The stealthy F-22A also proved that it could avoid and destroy enemy surface to air missiles, and recorded an impressive 97 percent mission capability rate.
The last F-22 was delivered in 2012.
As we have reported in 2016, Congress tasked the USAF to study the cost and feasibility of restarting the F-22 production line, but ultimately, the decision to purchase more of the aircraft never came to fruition.
However the F-22 Raptor fleet is facing a shortage of Pratt & Whitney F119 engines since it has flown more than the service initially predicted.
“The primary problem [with the aircraft] is having enough engines to meet our requirements,” he added.
Photo credit: U.S. Air Force