The weekend is almost upon us, so I'll leave you all with a question to ponder. Just how many Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptors does the US Air Force have?
What we know for sure: There were a total of 195 aircraft built. 187 production jets and eight test articles--the last of which I personally saw at the factory. That's tail number 10-4195.
The USAF has lost one test aircraft--tail 4008. It has lost tails 4014, 4125, and one other recently at Tyndall AFB out of the total number of production and production representative aircraft. Another jet at Tyndall AFB was scrapped up to the tune of $35 million, but is otherwise more or less intact. By my math, that means the USAF has 184 production jets left, which Air Combat Command chief General Mike Hostage, who recently flew his last Raptor sortie, agrees with. "Got only 184 of them," he says. "A pitifully small number."
The US Air Force's factsheet says the service has 183 jets, but that was just prior to the latest crash at Tyndall--which means the service should have 182 jets left--if it is to be believed. But after the crash, when Steve Trimble--the founder of this blog--and I were tallying up the numbers, and we ended up debating whose numbers were right--my count or the USAF's official figures.
I didn't think the fact sheet was correct, so I asked ACC to give me a breakdown of the Raptor fleet. This is what ACC sent me: "The F-22 inventory is 123 combat-coded, 27 training, 16 test, and 20 attrition reserve. The incident at Tyndall was a training aircraft which brought the number down from 28. There are currently 186 total."
So that leaves the question--who is right? General Hostage and myself--we count 184 remaining jets... We also agree that 184 is a pitifully small fleet. What about ACC's count of 186? Or the USAF factsheet?
Anyways, Hostage also thinks the demise of stealth--as purported by many pundits--is over blown. Read the story here--or just watch it here. It was in interesting presentation definitely worth watching in full.