The US Air Force in early spring made another attempt to obtain permission from the US Congress to decommission 32 fighters fifth generation F-22 Raptor. The Air Combat Command said plans for disposal are already in the works.
What is known
If the US Congress approves the request, then the US Air Force in fiscal year 2024 (FY) will be able to retire 32 Block 20 fighters. Upgrading to the Block 35 standard will cost the service $ 50 million per aircraft. Saved means will be invested in the development of the fifth generation fighter, which will appear in the middle of the next decade.
Secret stealth attack aircraft F-117 Nighthawk, which were decommissioned many years ago, are stored in hangars. After decommissioning, the fifth-generation F-22 Raptor fighters will be used for training at the Langley-Eustis base (Langley-Eustis), Virginia, and then go to Arizona at the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.
The military facility is known for the 309 Aerospace Maintenance and Repair Group (AMARG). The base stores more than 4,400 aircraft and several dozen spacecraft. The total value of the property is over $35 billion.
Despite active protection, the Davis-Monten base often encounters theft. In this regard, AMARG considered the possibility of building climate-controlled facilities where fifth-generation fighter jets and stealth components could be stored.
The disposal of the F-22 Raptor will be the first time that a large number of stealth aircraft have gone through this process. Although it should be noted that some of the 32 fifth-generation fighters will remain in museums.
By the way, the disposal of stealth components is a rather delicate issue. Previously, the SSA Air Force had been subject to litigation by contractors and personnel. The reason was that some of the specialists who were involved in the process of burning stealth materials experienced health problems.
As for the Davis-Monten base, the usually decommissioned aircraft are divided into four categories here:
- short-term conservation;
- long-term preservation;
- equipment for sale;
- parts donors.
Air Combat Command said the F-22 Program Office has requested funding for long-term storage of the F-22. The amount is not specified. Almost all aircraft that fell into this category returned to service as target drones 20 years later. The only exceptions were the mentioned F-117s. They are stored in “flight storage” and can return to service in wartime.
Source: Air & Space Forces Magazine