U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor Fleet Facing Engine Shortage: Report

U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor Fleet Facing Engine Shortage: Report
Engine nozzles of the F-22 (picture source).

The Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor is a single-seat, twin-engine, all-weather stealth tactical fighter aircraft developed for the United States Air Force (USAF).

The U.S. Department of Defense announced the decision to end F-22 production at 187 aircraft in April 2009. The Air Force received the last F-22 in 2012.

For the past several years, the U.S. Air Force’s fleet of the F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jet is facing a shortage of Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 turbofan engines.

Air Combat Command head Gen. Mike Holmes during an event hosted by the Air Force Association’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies has confirmed that F-22 faces a shortage of engines.

“The aircraft has flown more than the service initially predicted which has resulted in a shortage of F-22 engines,” Holmes said.

The F-22 Raptor is powered by two Pratt and Whitney F119-100 engines. The F119-100 is a low bypass after-burning turbofan engine providing 156kN thrust.

The Pratt & Whitney’s website said the F119 engine delivers unparalleled aircraft maneuverability with its unique two-dimensional pitch vectoring exhaust nozzle. This convergent/divergent nozzle vectors thrust as much as 20 degrees up or down.

Air Combat Command is also thinking of taking some less capable F-22s from the formal training unit and upgrading them for combat operations.

The Air Force is looking to bolster its fleet of F-22 Raptors by taking some aircraft from the service’s formal training unit and reconfiguring them for combat operations, the commander of Air Combat Command said June 22.

“They’re already combat capable even without bringing them up to the higher standard. I’d certainly pick one of those over some of our legacy airplanes, if I had to go fight,” Gen. James “Mike” Holmes said. “One option would be to be able to turn them into a combat-coded squadron over the next several years.”

The idea of repurposing some aircraft is primarily a “think piece” for Air Combat Command, Holmes said during a video teleconference hosted by the Air Force Association’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.

“It is based on: Can we make that Reforge initiative work?” he said, referring to a new service plan meant to better train fighter pilots. “Then it’s also based on work that we’re doing as we look at our flying training units in general.”

The command is working to make training curriculum and materials available to student pilots 24 hours a day so they can progress at their own pace, Holmes said. It also wants to continuously monitor students during training so instructors know when a trainee can advance from one step to the next, or when they need more time in one particular area.

“It gives us the opportunity to decrease the amount of time they spend in our flying training units, which means we don’t need as many aircraft and [simulators] dedicated to that, which means maybe you can repurpose some of those — since we are already paying to operate them — into additional combat capability without spending any extra money,” he said.

In 2016, Congress tasked the Air Force to study the cost and feasibility of restarting the F-22 production line, but ultimately, the decision to purchase more of the aircraft never came to fruition.

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  1. Cristian Frez Prado

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