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Why Only America Flies The F-22 Raptor Stealth Fighter

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There are likely several reasons why the U.S. never exported its famous 5th-generation F-22 Raptor to allied nations. The first and most obvious of which is simply that U.S. leaders and weapons developers wanted to make sure cutting-edge, exclusively developed technologies remain only with U.S. forces.

There are likely several reasons why the U.S. never exported its famous 5th-generation F-22 Raptor to allied nations.

The first and most obvious of which is simply that U.S. leaders and weapons developers wanted to make sure cutting-edge, exclusively developed technologies remain only with U.S. forces.

The U.S. military does not want to compromise any massive advantage it may have over adversaries.

Proprietary Technologies on F-22

Perhaps there are so many proprietary and potentially sensitive technologies that the U.S. does not even want to risk producing a stripped-down “export” variant. Export variants of the Abrams and Apache reach many countries, and of course, the F-35 is fast becoming more global. So there may be an even more detailed and important reason why the U.S. simply does not share anything F-22.

Such a question doubtless invites speculation, and some are likely to wonder if it pertains to certain elements of its air supremacy technology, maneuverability, and air-to-air attack capability. Certain key F-22 specs such as its 1.08 thrust-to-weight ratio or Mach 2.25 speed are not unmatched, as Russia’s Su-57 specs show a slightly superior 1.18 thrust-to-weight ratio and only slightly slower speed at Mach 2.2. The Su-35 is listed as having the highest thrust-to-weight ratio at 1.30 and the U.S. F-15 is listed at 1.29, according to World Defense.

Therefore, if several planes are just as fast as the F-22 and able to fly with an equivalent or even better thrust-to-weight ratio … Why is the F-22 considered the best by many? What attributes does the F-22 possess that no rival aircraft has?

An Edge in the Air

The reason there is no export variant may be because specific technologies are built into the aircraft, giving it an edge over competitors. It may simply be that even creating an export variant of the F-22 would simply give away too much information about the aircraft and allow too many countries to be familiar with how it flies.

This is quite significant because given that it is known as a superior air-to-air fighter, the Pentagon simply did not want too many allied nations to learn how to maneuver, fight, and train on such an elite system. In more recent years, the F-22 has received substantial upgrades to its stealth coating, weapons guidance, sensing, and electronics.

F-22 A Raptor Demonstration Team aircraft maintainers prepare to launch out Maj. Paul “Max” Moga, the first F-22A Raptor demonstration team pilot, July 13. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christopher L. Ingersoll)
A U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor from the 95th Fighter Squadron, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., moves into position behind a KC-135 Stratotanker from the 100th Air Refueling Wing, RAF Mildenhall Air Base, England, to conduct aerial refueling Sept. 4, 2015, over the Baltic Sea. The U.S. Air Force has deployed four F-22 Raptors, one C-17 Globemaster III, approximately 60 Airmen and associated equipment to Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. While these aircraft and Airmen are in Europe, they will conduct air training with other Europe-based aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jason Robertson/Released)
Eight F-22 Raptors with the 325th Fighter Wing at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, receive fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker from the 507th Air Refueling Wing from Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, Feb. 7, 2022, while the Okies flew to the U.S. Virgin Islands for training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lauren Kelly)

However, there are likely aspects of the initial F-22 models, and specifics on how it flies, which simply were not replicated anywhere else in the world. The Pentagon sought to keep it that way.

Also, in terms of sheer manufacturing, the F-22 program was cut short of its intended fleet size, so a production apparatus may not have been sufficiently established to support foreign variants.

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