The F-22 was manufactured as a heavy multirole fighter for the gradual replacement of the F-15 Eagle. A total of 187 operational F-22 fighters are in service within 11 fighter wings of the US Air Force. © AFP 2016/ JUNG YEON-JE
Military.com: Did the Air Force Dash Hopes for Building More F-22s?
When the F-22 Raptor production line ceased in 2011, Air Force Lt. Col. Daniel thought the Pentagon had made a huge mistake.
He was driving in his car in 2009 when he found out "the Raptor fleet is done at 187, and I remember thinking, 'This is not great.' I thought it was an error."
Because, "more is better than less, right?" said the F-22 pilot of the 95th Fighter Squadron. He spoke to Military.com on the condition that his last name not be used, due to safety concerns amid ongoing air operations against the Islamic State.
Military.com recently sat down with a few pilots and a maintainer at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, as part of a trip to observe fifth-generation F-22s flying with fourth-generation F/A-18 Hornets for training.
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WNU Editor: The best line in this report is near the end ....
.... In any exercise, pilots show up the first couple of days, "integrate with other platforms -- everyone's trying to learn," Daniel said. "By the end of the first week, everybody realized we need about 30 more F-22s in the lane because as soon as the F-22s leave, people start to die in the air-to-air fight."