The US Air Force adapts the F-22 Raptor for the Pacific theater

If the US Air Force's F-22 Raptor air superiority fighter is still considered, despite its age, as the best air-to-air combat aircraft of the moment, the Lockheed Martin aircraft is not necessarily the same. devoid of certain weaknesses.

This is particularly the case in the Pacific theater, for which the combat autonomy of the F-22 is insufficient, as is the number of munitions carried in its holds. However, it seems that the US Air Force has found a solution in these areas.

Indeed, photos published on social networks show an F-22 carrying fuel tanks with a stealthy profile under the wings, as well as pods, just as stealthy, which could also carry additional air-to-air missiles, or additional passive sensors, such as an IRST.

The F-22 Raptor, still the ultimate air superiority fighter 27 years after its first flight

Since its first flight in September 1997, the F-22 Raptor has not only remained the American reference in terms of air superiority, but it remains universally recognized as a unique reference in terms of combat aircraft.

F-22 Raptor US Air Force
Although designed in the 80s, the F-22 Raptor remains considered today to be the most efficient air superiority aircraft.

It must be said that the Raptor is the plane of all superlatives. It was thus the first aircraft designated as belonging to the famous, and sometimes controversial, 5th generation of combat aircraft, creating, as such, the specifications of what an aircraft had to integrate to belong to it, such as stealth. , data fusion, super-maneuverability or even super-cruise.

The F-22 is thus a multi-aspect stealth still unmatched to this day, even by the F-35, which only offers great stealth in the frontal and rear sector. Its two weapons bays allow it to maintain optimal stealth in air-air missions, with 6 AMRAAMs and 2 Sidewinders ready to fire.

It was, moreover, the first fighter with real data fusion, although significantly less than that of the Lightning II. It was also the first to be equipped with an AESA active antenna radar, the An/APG-77, which remains a benchmark in air-to-air detection, being capable of detecting and tracking a target at almost 600 km distance.

Its two Pratt&Whitney F-119 turbojets each deliver a dry thrust of 12 tonnes, allowing it to reach super-cruise, that is to say to support a supersonic level regime, without after-burner. This increases the engine thrust to almost 16 tonnes, giving the fighter a power-to-weight ratio greater than 1 in combat configuration.

F-22 Rapotr air base in Myanmar
The F-22 Raptor was designed for the European theater, for which a combat radius of 1000 km was sufficient.

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