Lockheed Martin F-22, # 91-4006, is being brought out from storage at Edwards Air Force Base (AFB) to be return to service by the end of this year.
The U.S. Air Force (USAF) fiscal year 2018 budget justification documents in fact states the F-22 program will add another operational test aircraft to the fleet by taking one aircraft “out of flyable storage.”
According to Flight Global, the jet is an engineering, manufacturing and development model aircraft with a Block 10 avionics.
A USAF spokeswoman says the aircraft is being modified before joining the operational test fleet.
Actually modifications worth $25 million to upgrade the parked Raptor to a Block 20 avionics standard have already started. The service will also modify basic systems including hydraulic, electrical and flight controls.
Noteworthy this additional aircraft is badly needed by 411th Flight Test Squadron’s F-22 Modernization Team at Edwards AFB which is constantly focused on ongoing Raptor modernization efforts, as Lt. Col. Lee Bryant, commander of the 411th Flight Test Squadron, explained last month: “What we’re doing, you could almost call it Raptor 2.0, is essentially a rebirth of the Raptor and what it can do. We’re making sure the Raptor, with its first look, first shot, first kill capability, continues to be the most capable fifth-generation fighter in the world.”
As we have previously reported Congress voted in 2009 to stop purchasing the F-22 stealth fighters after just 187 were made, hundreds less than the USAF had planned.
However even though several studies have been made to reopen the F-22 production line, high costs associated with hiring workers, integrating newer stealth technologies and training and equipping additional pilots make impossible restarting the Raptor production.
Photo credit: Teddy Techer
Artwork courtesy of AircraftProfilePrints.com
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