The U.S. Air Force is planning to retire the fleet of the F-22 Raptor series in a time period of ten years, according to reports. On the other hand, Congress doesn’t seem to be satisfied with the decision of retiring the aircraft, as it considers it an early settlement, which might cause some problems in the early delivery of its replacement aircraft. The F-22s would have been replaced by the “Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) fighter jets”, having stealth technology and the capability to fly over long distances. It should be noted that there are around 183 F-22 Raptor jets currently in acquisition by the USAF and out of these, 123 jets have the capability to participate in combat missions. The remaining aircrafts are used for training purposes.
Coupled with this, the concept of these F-22 Raptors dates back to 1980, specifically in the Cold War era. Their design characteristics had been formulated at that time and they were subjected to conducting their operations from the air bases in Western Europe against Soviet and Warsaw Pact fighters. What’s more, the F-22 Raptors are designed to fly over medium ranges rather than long ranges. In order to compete worldwide, the USAF decided to retire these aircrafts and come up with something that could contend well against Russia’s Su-57 “Felon” and Chinese J-20 and FC-31 fighters. This is because it is an important activity in combat to cover long distances in order to attack the enemy aircraft with efficiency and never miss a target.
The most important thing about the latest and upcoming NGAD fighters is that they have been developed, maintained, and flown in just one year, i.e., in 2020. This means that the whole process just took one year to produce a complete masterpiece. On the other hand, the secretary of the USAF, Frank Kendall, said that these aircrafts will cost “multiple hundreds of millions of dollars” if we talk in comparison to F-35A Joint Strike Fighter jets that cost just around $70 million each. But on the other hand, for good reasons, it is advisable for the USAF to get their hands on the NGAD because it would rather be more costly to spend millions of dollars on the maintenance of F-22 Raptors.
To that end, it has been projected that these NGAD jets are capable enough to do wonders in the skies for a longer period of time, but Congress seems to prefer funding the existing F-22 Raptors for their maintenance rather than buying NGAD. However, according to the Airforce Times, “The service wants to retire 33 of the oldest combat-capable planes, known as Block 20, as part of its 2023 Defense budget request.” However, the new NGAD fighter jets have been scheduled to replace the existing fleet of Raptors by 2030.