In the late 1990s, the United States was at a post–Cold War apex as an aviation juggernaut. Not only did it have the largest fleet of combat aircraft in the world, it was also producing the only fifth-generation fighter in existence: the F-22 Raptor. By 2009, the U.S. government had turned against the fighter, and only 187 were produced. What happened to the F-22 program, and why?
There’s little doubt the F-22 Raptor is the greatest air superiority fighter of its time. The problem was that the fighter’s development went on for so long that its primary adversary, the Soviet air force, went out of business.