TechRevamped F-22 Raptor spotted: upgrades extend its reign into 2030s

Revamped F‑22 Raptor spotted: upgrades extend its reign into 2030s

"Elephant walk" - training launch of F-22 aircraft - illustrative photo
"Elephant walk" - training launch of F-22 aircraft - illustrative photo
Images source: © Public domain
4:33 PM EDT, March 26, 2024
An unusual F-22 Raptor fighter jet was spotted in the sky, equipped with new, discreet external fuel tanks and infrared sensors mounted under its wings, according to The War Zone. This unique configuration was noticed by an aviation enthusiast near the Mojave Air and Space Port. It’s speculated that the U.S. might be testing enhancements to keep the F-22 highly efficient until the next-generation multirole aircraft are introduced.
The War Zone shared a photo taken by an X platform user named "@Task_Force 23", showcasing the Raptor in this novel setup. Likely originating from Edwards Air Force Base, a hub for the U.S. Air Force's testing initiatives, this aircraft serves test purposes. You can view the photo [here].

F-22 Raptor in a new version

This new F-22 configuration aims to extend the fighters' operational life into the 2030s, aligning with the expected debut of the 6th generation multirole aircraft under the NGAD (Next Generation Air Dominance) program. This initiative is set to develop a manned fighter and a suite of support drones, marking a period when the F-22's superiority might be challenged.
The F-22, a pioneer in integrating NGAD technology, is under examination for enhancements like new fuel tanks and an infrared search and track system (IRST), as per the latest photographs. These upgrades are anticipated to bolster the capabilities of these jets, first produced in the 1980s, against evolving threats.
Exclusively operated by the United States, the F-22 Raptors were designed in the late 1980s under the Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) program to counter any possible Soviet incursion into U.S. and allied airspace. The prototype took to the skies in 1990, with mass production starting in 1997 and concluding in 2011.
As previously noted, F-22s are 62 feet in length, 16.7 feet in height, and possess a wingspan of 44.5 feet. They are renowned for their supercruise capability, which allows them to achieve supersonic speeds (nearly 1.4 Mach or 1,715 mph) without afterburners. Additionally, Raptors are versatile, capable of deploying an array of weapons, including AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles, with their primary armament being the 20 mm M61A2 Vulcan cannon housed in the fuselage.
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