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The American-built Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor is considered by many to be one of the most advanced fighter aircraft in modern times. With its unique capabilities and advanced features, it has remained relevant since its introduction in 2005, despite countless technological innovations over the years.
The F-22 Raptor is a fifth-generation air superiority fighter. It is designed with stealth in mind and is more difficult to identify and track on radar. Two powerful Pratt & Whitney F119 engines with afterburners ensure the aircraft is capable of high speeds, and the F-22 can supercruise. This means that it can fly faster than the speed of sound, without the use of afterburners - a big advantage for fuel consumption.
The aircraft's special ability to fly at very high speeds, its excellent maneuverability and high altitudes increase the F-22's combat effectiveness and survivability.
The F-22 is developed and built by Lockheed Martin. The Raptor first flew in 1997 and was produced between 1996 and 2011. Lockheed Martin built 195 aircraft in total - 8 prototypes and 187 operational F-22s. The latter was introduced into service in 2005.
But which countries have the F-22 Raptor?
Which Countries Have the F-22 Raptor?
The United States is the only country that owns and operates the F-22 Raptor.
The F-22 Raptor is used by the US Air Force primarily for air-to-air capabilities. It can fly at very high altitudes to evade detection, giving it an edge in stealth and combat. The Raptor has advanced avionics, which enhances the pilot's ability to track, engage, and eliminate targets. In addition, the F-22 is highly maneuverable in all principal axes (pitch, roll, and yaw), making it difficult for an enemy to eliminate.
No other country has operated the F-22 before and they won't for the time being. This is due to American legislation. US Federal law explicitly prohibits the F-22 from being sold to countries other than the USA.
The export ban exists to protect the aircraft's technology and keep its capabilities secret, thus preventing these from falling into the wrong hands. The ban shows how good and valuable an aircraft the USA considers the F-22 to be. To the US, the Raptor is a strategically important military asset.
Despite the export ban, the US Department of Defense investigated the feasibility and cost of an export version of the F-22 in 2010. The study was also supposed to assess the strategic implications of allowing other countries to acquire the Raptor. The result of the investigation has not been attractive enough, because the export ban is still in force.
Which Countries Have Shown Interest in the F-22 Raptor?
In Australia, a group of politicians suggested that the country should try to acquire the F-22 and not the F-35, which was otherwise planned. They used the Raptor's capabilities and superiority as the reason, and the delays in the F-35 program also played a role. However, the proposal met resistance when the country's air force, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), determined that the Raptor could not perform the same types of missions as the F-35.
The Japanese government also showed interest in the Raptor. Japan believed that the F-22 could reduce the number of the total fleet required. This would lower costs for personnel and maintenance. However, the plans were dropped in favor of the F-35 when studies showed that the acquisition of the F-22 would require a significantly larger defense budget.
Before Israel chose the F-35, they also showed interest in the Raptor. The price and unavailability of the F-22 became decisive.
What Do Other Countries Use Instead?
Because the Raptor is not allowed to be sold to other countries, these countries must find alternatives and purchase other aircraft instead - Sometimes older designs such as the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle and the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon (now produced by Lockheed Martin).
However, most of America's allies have already chosen the F-35 as their next fighter. Like the F-22, the F-35 is also developed and built by Lockheed Martin and the aircraft borrows functions and features from the F-22, and is designed to be more flexible and cheaper than the F-22. The F-35 is the result of the Joint Strike Fighter program and the aircraft was developed by several countries together with the United States. It is therefore natural for the participating countries to choose the F-35.
Only the United States operates F-22 Raptor fighters. An export ban in the US Federal Law prevents the aircraft from being sold to any other country. The ban is intended to protect the advanced and secret technology and the full capabilities of the aircraft. Over time, several countries have shown interest in the Raptor but have instead chosen other alternatives, most often the F-35, which also borrows technology from the F-22.
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