Raptor was put into service after delays and several design cost cuts; The main reason was the collapse of the Soviet Union

Because the price and maintenance costs were twice as high as originally planned, the F-22 fighter had to stop production very soon. The last order was in 2009 and the line closed in 2012. Too short compared to the F-15, which is still in production to this day. The US Air Force bought only 187, in a plan to produce more than 700 F-22s; therefore do not constitute a significant force in the US Air Force.

During its first fifteen years of service, the F-22 was unrivaled. The F-22 did not have the opportunity to engage with heavy fighters like Russia’s Su-27 or China’s J-11B to demonstrate its capabilities. While the F-15, the fourth generation predecessor of the F-22, saw effective air combat capabilities in the hands of Israel and later the US and Saudi Arabia, during Operation Desert Storm against the Iraqi Air Force; but the F-22 never had a chance to prove itself a worthy investment.

F-22 Raptor
F-22 Raptor

Designed to be a very specialized fighter for air combat, the F-22 doesn’t have any combat situations to prove itself. The F-22 is only a deterrent weapon, to maintain the balance of power in Europe and the Pacific against potential adversaries such as Russia, China, Iran or North Korea. The F-22 entered the same path as the F-14 Tomcat before it. The changing nature of war forced the US to modify the F-22 to suit the ground attack role, going against its original philosophy.

Although expensive, complex to maintain, and not specifically designed to attack ground targets, the F-22 still has to take on a number of combat missions; otherwise, will face criticism as a “useless” aircraft. But due to its stealthy design, the F-22 could not be an effective attack aircraft, largely because its internal weapons bays were too small to accommodate large-diameter cruise missiles or bombs; weapons needed for ground attacks.

The F-22 has been adapted to carry small-diameter guided bombs, in limited numbers. Therefore, the F-22 will only be suitable for ground attacks, in small conflicts, when the enemy’s air defense system is not available, or too weak. The F-22 first entered combat, during an air strike against the Islamic State group in Iraq, in 2015. The F-22 was later deployed to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban insurgency.


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