F-22 Raptor

The F-22 Raptor is a super-maneuverable single-seat fighter jet with twin engines that uses stealth technology, which makes it more difficult to detect by radar, developed in the United States. Its design was primarily intended to be an air superiority fighter aircraft, although it can also serve ground attack, electronic warfare and reconnaissance missions.

It was in 1981 when the U.S. Air Force (USAF) raised the requirement to have a new air superiority fighter to replace the F-15 Eagle and the F-16 Fighting Falcon. This need was mainly aroused by the development on the Soviet side of the Su-27 Flanker and MiG-29 Fulcrum models. The idea was to obtain a plane capable of surpassing its Russian counterparts with greater maneuverability, speed, altitude ceiling and, in addition, stealth capabilities that would make it invisible to radar.

Dos F-22 Raptor volando en formación en una misión de patrulla aérea
Two F-22 Raptors flying in formation on an air patrol mission

It was not until 1997 that production of the first F-22 model was completed, with 2003 being the year in which the first units were delivered to Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. Initially, the USAF placed an order for 750 aircraft, but after successive budget cuts the final figure remained at just under 200 F-22s.

This drastic reduction was mainly due to several factors. The first is the high production cost of each Raptor unit. The second due to several errors and incidents that arose throughout its development that forced numerous modifications and delays. The third, the appearance on the scene of the F-35 Lightning, a much cheaper version, with stealth capability as well and a vertical takeoff/landing system (VTOL). Finally, the United States government made the decision to end production of the F-22 Raptor to boost that of the F-35 Lightning. This means that lost devices will not be replaced.

Dos F-22 Raptor en formación durante una exhibición aérea
Two F-22 Raptors in formation during an air show


The nearly 200 F-22 Raptors that the USAF currently has are mainly distributed among United States defense squadrons. Although they can also be found at Kadena Air Base, in Okinawa, Japan. At Osan Air Base, South Korea. And, recently, at the Rota Naval Air Base, in Cádiz, Spain, where a reinforcement squadron has been temporarily stationed for operations in the Mediterranean and North Africa.

Officially, its participation in real combat operations has not been confirmed but it is expected that it could have a great role in the Korean theater of operations, in the event of the start of hostilities between the North Korean regime and its southern neighbor or Japan.