Intellia East Asia News – Retired F-22s should go to Japan, not the graveyard

The Pentagon wants to retire dozens of F-22s rather than upgrade them, with the Department of Defense saying it can use the roughly $1 billion saved to upgrade its forces elsewhere.

But these F-22s are very important and to retire them when they can be a very effective deterrent to others is potentially a major mistake. Japan (like Israel) has long wanted F-22s, which can play a major deterrent role in the Pacific and defy almost anything China throws at them.

If retired from service, these two dozen F-22s will go to the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base cemetery in Tucson, Arizona. There they will slowly rot in the sun and some of their parts may be salvaged by the Air Force.

The F-22 is a very capable and very expensive aircraft. Brand new, the cost of flying was $120 million when the first plane entered service in 2005. Translated into current dollars, the cost of a new plane would be $182 million.

But the cost per aircraft would also include research and development, bringing the 2005 cost to $334 million, or $507 million in 2022 dollars.

Calculated this way, the value of the two dozen F-22 planes the Air Force wants to retire is about $12.2 billion assuming they were in good condition, which is not the case.

The Air Force admitted the cost of upgrading all F-22s slated for retirement would be just under $1 billion, a fraction of the investment so far.

Only the United States has the F-22 and it remains a critically important air superiority fighter.

The F-22 has a number of advantages over the cheaper and more tactical F-35. For starters, the F-22 has a smaller radar section than the F-35, which is sometimes referred to as semi-stealth. Additionally, the F-22:

is much more maneuverable than the F-35,

has a better thrust-to-weight ratio,

has two motors instead of one (significant safety factor),

has greater firepower because the F-22 is a much larger platform and,

can operate at a higher ceiling.

Again, it can serve as an air superiority fighter, which the F-35 is not. While the F-35 is among the slowest modern jet fighters at Mach 1.6, the F-22 is among the fastest at Mach 2.25.

Where the F-22 is not as modern, the list is shorter:

It lacks the more advanced electronics and computers of the F-35 and is therefore less suitable for network-centric operations, and

He does not carry certain types of weapons (although he can be modified for them).

But by far the most important feature of the F-22 is that it can knock out enemy air defenses and radars, as well as win in air-to-air combat, paving the way for non-stealth fighters, fighter-bombers and conventional bombers. to eliminate enemy assets such as missile launch sites and command centers.

The F-22 is clearly the envy of the Chinese military and China would have a hard time repelling an F-22 attack.

So the question arises: why not modernize the F-22s offered for retirement and offer them to America’s allies, notably Japan? The full-time presence of F-22s on Japanese territory would make China think about its chances of winning if, for example, a conflict broke out over Taiwan or the Senkaku Islands.

A possible obstacle is a 1999 law that stated that the United States was not allowed to develop an export version of the F-22. Of course, the F-22 is already developed and the evolutions would be the same as for the F-22 of the fleet. However, the 1999 law is often interpreted as a presumption against any export of the jet.

This 1999 amendment to US defense legislation was originally intended to prevent our adversaries from getting their hands on the F-22 and exploiting its technology. But China has already stolen all relevant plans for the F-22. Even so, the Chinese probably still lack the technology that would be essential to truly compete with the F-22.

Their best try is the Chengdu J-20, which is now deployed but also remains a work in progress. Everything we really know about it is classified, but most experts say the J-20 engines, among other components, aren’t as good as the Pratt and Whitney F119 engines on the F-22.

Currently, the J-20 uses Shenyang Lining WS-10C engines, and there are plans to upgrade to a new engine, the Xian WS-15. But little is known about the reliability of the Chinese engines, or even if they perform as advertised.

Either way, even if the J-20 was as good as the F-22, if US-made F-22s aren’t in the region, it will be a challenge for Japan to stay in the fight. Either the United States will have to deploy its own F-22s to Japan at all times, or give Tokyo the opportunity to match the Chinese by providing F-22s.

For very little money, Japan, if it got the F-22s that are otherwise headed for scrap, would have an equalizer in the region of considerable strategic importance.

The United States and its allies are now being challenged by China and maintaining the balance of power is proving increasingly difficult. A simple amendment to US law would allow Japan to get the F-22s retired, assuming, of course, the Japanese wanted them.

Since they wanted them before, now is the right time for the Japanese to ask for them again.

Category: Japan

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