Some things in life you need to see to believe. As World War 2 veteran and Staff Sergeant Leslie Edwards found out, a F-22 Raptor screaming over your head is one of those things.
A lot has changed since the planes of WWII ruled over the skies. Modern technology has changed the way aerial combat is fought.
Let’s take a deeper look at the F-22 Raptor and how far fighter planes have come since WWII!
US Fighters of WW2
During WWII, the P51 Mustang was the US’s most dominant fighter plane. It performed incredibly and was said to have a 19-to-1 kill to losses ratio. In fact, the Senate War Investigating Committee even named it the most aerodynamically perfect pursuit plane during its existence.
With nearly 5,000 destroyed German planes to its credit, it has taken down more than any other US or Allied fighter. The P51 retired in 1951, making way for the next generation of aircraft.
SSgt. Edwards was part of a unit of African American military pilots called the Tuskegee Airmen. They were the first African Americans to complete training and join the Army Air Corps successfully.
This remarkable group destroyed hundreds of German aircraft and ground support vehicles. They returned home with 96 distinguished flying crosses, 14 bronze stars, 744 air medals and at least 60 purple hearts.
The F-22 Raptor
When it comes to air superiority, the F-22 Raptor is unmatched. This fifth generation piece of art combines stealth, speed and situational awareness to dominate the air. It’s capable of both air-to-air combat and air-to-ground combat, making it one of the most versatile fighters in the world.
Capabilities of the F-22 Raptor
The F-22 can reach speeds up to Mach 1.8 and even Mach 2 with the afterburners. It can fly at 65,000 feet of elevation and can carry A LOT of weapons.
The Raptor can outmaneuver any current or projected aircraft with its advanced thrust vectoring, aerodynamic design, and high thrust-to-weight ratio. Its supercruise capability allows it to travel at supersonic speeds without using afterburners. This permits the aircraft to maintain its pace over a tremendous range.
The Cost of an F-22 Raptor
As you can imagine, these things don’t come cheap. The Raptor is one of the most expensive jets in the world with a price tag of roughly $120 million! The operating cost alone is enough to make your head spin at an estimated $68,362 per hour.
However, even for those willing to spend the coin, the F-22 Raptor is not for sale. This aircraft is packed with classified technology! And in 1998, congress voted for an amendment that forbids it from being sold or exported to foreign countries.
Beyond the F-22 Raptor
If you want to dominate the air, a continued focus must be on future aircraft development. In 2020, the Air Force stated that it would look to begin retiring the F-22 Raptor to focus on its Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program.
The budget space freed up in this move will allow the air force to focus on developing the warfighters of our future.
Air dominance is a race of progress. The aircraft that soared over battlefields in WW2 vastly differ from the modern fighter jets that rule the skies today. And nobody can see that more clearly than the veterans that flew them!