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.
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.
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.