US Air Force gives Lockheed $11 Billion to upgrade the F-22 Raptor

The F-22 Raptor was initially manufactured in 1997, and it cost $335 million to produce at the time. You could launch a SpaceX Falcon 9 five times with that money.

The powerful jet seemed like something from the future at the time. In a single weapons platform, it integrated supercruise, supermaneuverability, and sensor fusion.

The F-22 was also built to be very stealthy, with wings that precisely aligned with its horizontal stabiliser, reducing its radar signal. It was designed to emit fewer radio waves, have a lower infrared signature, and have a lower acoustic signature, as well as be less apparent to the human eye. It was significantly superior to conventional jets as a result of this.

It also included an integrated avionics system that incorporated sensor fusion, radar data, and data from various external sensors to improve the situational awareness of the pilots.

The US Air Force had intended to purchase 750 F-22 stealth interceptors to construct a powerful fleet for the twenty-first century.

However, as the United States became more involved in counter-terror and counter-insurgency operations against technologically inferior forces following the fall of the Soviet Union, the requirement for better dogfighters decreased. With just 186 fighters delivered, the F-22 programme was terminated in December 2011.

The aircraft maintainance seems to be expensive. The Air Force has around 180 F-22s in its inventory, but nearly half of them are grounded at any one time owing to maintenance issues. The F-22’s pre-flight checks take hours, with many crew members inspecting every inch of the warplane.

However, time has gone since its conception, and the jet is no longer as revolutionary as it once was. According to Defense News, the US Air Force granted Lockheed Martin a $10.9 billion deal to modernise the fighter jet on Friday.

The arrangement will be known as the Advanced Raptor Enhancement and Sustainment programme (ARES), and it will cover up to a decade of jet fighter maintenance and modernization, including upgrades, improvements, and other adjustments, as well as logistical services and modernization hardware kit purchase.

The US Air Force Life Cycle Management Center has produced a pre-solicitation synopsis for federal contract listings (AFLCMC).

Because it is the only creator, developer, and producer of the F-22 Raptor combat fighter, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics (LMA) is the only business capable of satisfying the Air Force’s demands, according to the listing.

In a May interview with Defense News, Lt. Gen. Clinton Hinote, Air Force deputy chief of staff for strategy, integration, and requirements, said that the enhanced Raptors, which will be 40 years old in 2030, will simply serve as a “bridge” until the Next Generation Air Dominance programme is ready to go.