(Joe McNally/Getty Images)
Supports of the Lockheed-Martin F-22 Raptor were dealt a blow earlier this week as the US Air Force made the announcement that production is too expensive to renew. However, the United States Air Force did offer a consolation prize to the F-22 with another announcement. The US Air Force will keep the F-22 Raptor in combat service until at least 2060.
This news comes as a huge shock because so many thought that the F-22 along with other fighters was being phased out for the F-35. The Air Force may no be investing the money to build new ones, but they will be spending the money to extend their lifespan towards half a century of service.
“We came to find out we have not been flying the Raptor nearly as hard as those design missions nor as what we found out during the structural testing, so actually the airframe itself—without any service life extension program—is good out to approximately 2060.”
– Tom McIntyre (Legislative Lead for Space, Nuclear, Missile Defense, and Cyber matters)
Although the F-22 was designed to be fly for an expected 8,000 flight hours, upgrades and the Aircraft Structural Integrity rPogram (ASIP) could extend that number as high as 15,000. The US Air Force may not be spending to make more F-22s but they know not to let a good thing go when they’ve got it.