Washington, D.C. -
Lockheed Martin has delivered the final F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jet to the Air Force on Wednesday costing US Taxpayers over $79 billion, or $420 million for each jet, and it has never flown in combat since becoming operationally ready in 2005. The average list price of the F/A18 fighter jet is $66 million and has been used extensively in combat with major success.
Sen. John McCain told ABC News that the jets, which the Air Force call the future of American air dominance, are a waste of their $79 billion price tag and serve no role in today's combat environment. "There is no purpose, no mission in Afghanistan or Iraq, unless you believe that al Qaeda is going to have a fleet of aircraft," McCain added.
In speaking about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Libya No-Fly missions, the Air Force said "there was just no need" for the F-22.
Lockheed Martin supporters however contend that it's not just about wars right here, right now, "its about long term threats beyond the horizon we can't yet see, and the F-22 fills a superb role in countering those situations" said Micheal Adam of Defense Watch. The Raptor's development and deliveries were guided more by congress's insistence that it be built to support jobs in their districts than the the military who said it doesn't see a need for it at this time.
Regardless of usefulness or not, the fighter jet has had some significant set backs with pilots having suffered several oxygen related problems. The entire fleet was once grounded by the Air Force so it could figure out what was going on. The Air Force never determined how the problem happened and has since given the Raptor its wings back.