August 10, 2007:
The U.S. Air
Force has assigned a squadron of F-22 fighters to Elmendorf air force base in
southern Alaska. This puts 24 F-22s as close to North Korea as possible (for
aircraft stationed in North America). Earlier this year F-22s were sent, for
the first time, across the Pacific, to Japan, for a training exercise. About
half the 183 F22s to be built, have been delivered already.
Because of its extraordinary
performance characteristics, and stealthiness, the F-22 will be used in place
of the F117, to launch the 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
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), in addition
to internally carried two heat seeking and, of fewer bombs are carried, six radar-homing air-to-air
missiles. 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.