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Raptor Has No Rivals

July 21, 2009

F-22_-_Golden_FormationBecause there is nothing else like it in the skies, only 187 F-22 Raptor fighters should be more than enough according to Wired’s Danger Room:

At the moment, the only air forces fielding so-called “4.5-generation” fighters that even approach Raptor-level capability are all strong U.S. allies: the U.K., Germany, Italy and Spain with their small fleets of Typhoons, France with its three squadrons of Rafales, and Australia with a single squadron of F/A-18F Super Hornets. Lockheed estimates it might eventually sell more than 3,000 stealthy, “fifth-generation” F-35s to U.S. allies.

Among perceived rivals, China just began producing J-10 fighters that are in the same class as the USAF’s 20-year-old F-16Cs. Russia is still building, and exporting, a few variants of the 1980s’ Su-27. Despite lots of promises, neither China nor Russia has ever demonstrated it can build anything more advanced than its current models. Russia’s aviation industry has eroded so badly that it cannot even produce drones for the Russian military: Moscow must buy them from Israel, instead.

The good news is this the beginning of the end of focused missioned weapons with niche capabilities which suck away needed funds from other essential warfighting skills and weaponry. Rather than a top-heavy force to deal with worse case scenarios that never seem to occur, we can have one geared to the most likely threats, but still adequate to handle a crisis when it occurs, not just a force for crises only!

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Mike Burleson permalink*
    July 22, 2009 8:28 pm

    Joe, my money is on the future UAVs. They already can out-loiter any manned jet and son will be able to out-maneuver, and out-think them as well. For our manned planes, I would continue to upgrade our already superior AAMs, the AMRAAM, the Meteor, the venerable Sidewinders. They are just unmatched war-winners.

  2. Joe permalink
    July 22, 2009 5:51 pm

    I think we’d do well to include some upgraded F-15 & F-16 fighter purchases on our list of things to do as we move forward. If you look strictly at the area of manned fighters for a moment, if the Raptor has no competitor in the skies does that also mean that every future endeavor is going to require a slightly less stealthy 5th Generation fighter/bomber (the F-35)?

  3. Heretic permalink
    July 22, 2009 9:58 am

    I’m disappointed that the JAS 39 Griffin was (again) not mentioned in the 4.5 generation listing. At the rate things are going, the JAS 39 NG is going to be a 4.75 generation fighter and still not get any recognition.

  4. Mike Burleson permalink*
    July 22, 2009 6:14 am

    I am more worried about the J-10’s numbers than her abilities. We could buy up to 3 legacy fighters for the price of one Raptor.

  5. July 21, 2009 10:54 pm

    “Among perceived rivals, China just began producing J-10 fighters that are in the same class as the USAF’s 20-year-old F-16Cs.”

    That’s likely a much too superficial estimation.

    J-10’s were reported to have outclassed Chinese Su-27’s in simulated air combat.
    That would put them firmly into the lass of F-15C/D/E, and that’s believable because modern fighter performance depends much more on avionics than on looks.

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