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    America's Best Fighter F-22 Raptor Lacks Teeth

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    US military officials do not appear to take air superiority seriously since one of America's leading military aircraft, the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor, does not have the best weapons or the latest upgrades to realize its full potential, defense analyst Dave Majumdar wrote for the National Interest.

    "The F-22 Raptor is by far the best air-to-air fighter America has ever built – but it too is being short-changed by inadequate weapons," the expert asserted. And the ones it does have are becoming increasingly obsolete.

    Take long-range air-to-air missiles, for instance.

    "While the Air Force is working on integrating the AIM-120D Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) onboard the jet, even this newest version of the venerable active radar-guided air-to-air missile is already being challenged by enemy digital radio frequency memory (DRFM) jammers and will soon be outranged by new Russian and Chinese weapons," Majumdar explained.

    Russia has the R-37M ultra long-range air-to-air missile and a projectile currently known as izdeliye 810 in the pipeline. The former was developed specifically for the MiG-31BM supersonic interceptor aircraft. The latter is expected to be fitted on Russia's fifth-generation fighter jets developed under the PAK FA program. 

    Two US Air Force F-22 Raptor stealth jet fighters fly near Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. File photo
    © REUTERS / Master Sgt. Kevin J. Gruenwald
    For its part, China test-fired its newest PL-15 long-range air-to-air missile in mid-September. The next day US Air Combat Command chief General Hawk Carlisle told the Flightglobal website that creating a missile superior to the PL-15 was a high priority for the US.

    In general, the US has long failed to arm its newest aircraft with appropriate weapons. Majumdar referred to this phenomenon as "a uniquely American blind-spot."

    "For example, when the McDonnell Douglas F-15A Eagle became operational in 1976, it used the same armament as its F-4 Phantom II predecessor. It wasn't until the introduction of the AMRAAM in 1991 – twenty-five years ago – that the Air Force gave the Eagle a weapon that could take full advantage of the jet's capability," the expert noted.

    In this August 14, 2012 photo, two US Air Force F-22 Raptor stealth fighters taxi before take-off at Kadena Air Base on the southern island of Okinawa in Japan
    © AP Photo / Greg Baker
    In this August 14, 2012 photo, two US Air Force F-22 Raptor stealth fighters taxi before take-off at Kadena Air Base on the southern island of Okinawa in Japan

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    Tags:
    air-to-air missile, long-range missiles, fighter jet, weapons, PL-15, Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor, US Air Force, China, United States, Russia
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