Can’t do it. Might bite into F-35 budget. And F-35 is a better plane anyways.
No, I don’t believe all of the above, but that’s the USAF’s way of thinking. It does make some budgetary sense as the USAF has been trying to cut out a lot of specialized aircraft from their budget, rightly or wrongly.
Apparently Japan was so desperate for f22 to be released for export to them that they offered to pay to restart production and this was the answer they got. US Air force could of bolstered raptor numbers relatively cheaply this way but they refused because of the focus on f35. Seems odd to me. But I don’t pay the bills
It gets really hard to second guess some of those decisions because the F-35 has incorporated a lot of technologies that the F-22 doesn’t have. Some of that is the USAF’s doing, some of it is Congress, and a lot of it is budget. The USAF did it to themselves because they insisted that the F-35 would be able to do all these things, which in turn resulted in Congress cutting back on the F-22, which resulted in less budget for F-22 things (as well as buying less because, really, if the F-35 can do all that, why buy the F-22, especially if F-35 is cheaper?). Keep in mind these decisions were being made in the Clinton years, when the DOD budget was pretty restricted.
Conversely, this is also why the F-117 got canned and why the USAF hustled to get bombs on the F-22. Put that money into the F-22 and have it do the mission instead, viola. Even though it doesn’t really do the mission because F-22 ain’t cheap.
As for Japan, there honestly was no way they would ever get F-22s. Australia wanted them too, but got told “no” as well. I don’t know what makes it more sensitive than the F-35, but it’s clearly something preventing them from doing a foreign sale of it.
With at least two other countries producing Stealth/LO aircraft who are know to export to nations that the US doesn’t get along with, it does make sense to start developing strategies to counter stealth since it could come to pass that US Forces encounter them on the other side, for once.
Might as well take some of those -117s out of storage.
Some are being kept in Type 1000 storage, meaning they’re regularly maintained and are capable of being brought back into service within 90 days. At least, they are for now. Once the F-35 is more prevalent, I can’t see logic in keeping such a dinosaur around, outside of research and display.
Source so you know I’m not just pulling this out of my 4th-point-of-contact:
On that note, they Looked into Re-building the Raptor Lines But:
-They wanted to re-design the Guts to incorporate new tech from the F-35 Program, (THe Old Processors Alone Limited the New Capabilty, Since Everything runs the New Standard and Requires a 64-Bit Processor Environment.
-They wanted a USN Version
-They wanted to re-use the original tooling, which was MIA when they opened the storage crates.
The EMD F-22A Block 10’s are being Stripped and Upgraded/Re-Fitted w/ New Internals (Including 64-Bit / HoL Capable CPUs), Aka “Block 20”.
That’s the Main Thing, they will finally be AIM-120C/D Ready as well as Have Significant A2G Capability.
I was going to post a pic of a panther but I really don’t think they are the same thing at all on reflection.
Personally in my own little fantasy the ones they have taken out to Saudi in the article HAVE been updated.
I know they haven’t really but imagine in 20 years time we find out this is the blackest of black projects and they have been upgraded so much that they were useful again.
I mean nobody knew they were conducting strikes last year did they.
Of course I’m reading to much into this and letting my imagination run wild but Jesus it’s cool to think about it!
Honestly against 90+% of the conflict locations we are currently dropping bombs in, the F-117 is plenty stealthy enough with zero risk of having a SAM system knocking down a brand new F-35. We already had one F-117 taken down, we can fade the heat way better if an F-117 goes down, versus the F-35 (there’d be blood in the budget halls on that one for sure). Additionally from all the reading I’ve ever done on the F-117, even today it’s a VERY capable strike AC. Adding in the capability to drop GPS munitions probably wasn’t trival, but it wouldn’t have been insurmountable.
The F-117 provides a combat proven, still very stealthy (against the expected opposition) airframe, with some pretty solid load carriage, and a proven ability to be extremely precise. Additionally it’s far more politically palatable if an F-117 is downed than an F-35. Beyond the maintenance issues that go with the early generation RAM, it’s not a bad option.
The F-117, unlike the B-2, F-22, or F-35, is a simple plane. It’s a 4th-gen fighter with no radar that just flies in, drops a couple of bombs, and leaves. Nothing fancy. It’s a mash up of other planes’ equipment, like Hornet engines, F-5 landing gear, roughly F-16 cockpit, and a simple FLIR/DLIR for targeting.
Besides the coating and the faceted shape, the only thing special about it was the FCS which had to cope with the bizarre aero that shape created. By modern standards I’m sure that 35-year old code is nothing.
I’d bet the coating even now is considered old hat, the 1999 loss let it get out into the wild and everyone got their hands on it.
So while it’s still capable and hard to see on radar, losing a 117 now would be a total non-issue (unless Congress starts asking public questions about a secret air force or something).
At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was tasked to the CIA or something, for when an armed UCAV isn’t going to get the job done.
That’s pretty cool. I always thought they’d been retired long before they should have been. That one getting shot down over Serbia provided the momentum for the decision, and a pretty silly decision at that.
The F-117 is still the only dedicated stealth bomber we have besides the B-2 (and we have 20 of those in inventory). Advances in material science and RAM technology could easily give the F-117 a new lease on life. Yes it’s not super advanced, but it is still FAR stealthier than almost everything else we have had in the inventory since, and probably still is. Yes radar tech has gotten better, but fundamentally the F-117 did a lot of things right in its role a low RCS platform, and was purpose built for its role. Stealth was the driving design decision rather than just one of the many design factors.
I’d say a F-117 with simply updated RAM coatings, would probably still be capable of fulfilling its original roll without the 2.1 billion dollar price tag of a B-2. Also we lose a B-2 in combat, that would be a complete political/military game changer. Yes anything can happen, and bad things happen on bad days, but the sky would fall in certain circles. An F-117, not so much as it’s not the first time.
Lastly the major thing we lost with the decommissioning of the F-117 IMO was the dedicated community of bomber pilots that flew them. For a good read check out:
Stealth Fighter: A Year in the Life of an F-117 Pilot - Kindle edition by O'Connor USAF (ret.), Lt. Col. William B.. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. Use features like bookmarks, note taking and highlighting...
Much like the A-10 community being the SMEs of the USAF CAS community, the F-117 community had one mission. Reading the above, on training exercises it wasn’t just target “that building” it was “target the left corner vent on the port-a-potty.” The mission planning, execution, and tactical knowledge all went out the window with only certain pieces being retained in various other communities.