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F-22 Replaces F-117
by James Dunnigan
June 1, 2008

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The U.S. Air Force has reactivated an F-117 "Stealth Fighter" squadron (the 7th Fighter Squadron) and equipped it with F-22 fighters. Because of its extraordinary performance characteristics, and stealthiness, the F-22 now perform bombing missions previously taken care of by the F117. The most dangerous of these involves attacks on enemy air defense systems. Once those defenses are damaged, less stealthy aircraft can go in with less risk of getting shot down. The F-22 is also the most effective air-to-air fighter available.

The 36 ton F-22 has internal bomb bays, to enhance stealthiness. Thus it can carry two half ton smart bombs, or eight 250 pound SDBs (ground penetrating Small Diameter Bombs) internally, in addition to a pair of air-to-air missiles. If fewer bombs are carried, six air-to-air missiles can go in the four internal bomb bays. Using the external hard points, which makes the aircraft more visible on radar, an F-22 can carry about four tons of bombs and missiles.

The F22 has the most advanced radar and electronic warfare gear of any jet fighter. When you include the cost of research and development, each F-22 ends up costing nearly $400 million. But for pilots in combat, it's money well spent.

The F-117 was based on 1970s technology and entered service in 1983. It was actually a 24 ton light bomber. It had two internal bomb bays, and typically carried two laser guided bombs. The F-117 was not a jet fighter, and was not as stealthy as the F-22. Only 59 were built and, taking inflation into account, cost about as much as a F-22. The last F-117s were retired earlier this year.

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