The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter tends to garner the lion’s share of media attention, but it was the F-22 Raptor that introduced the world to the very concept of a fifth-generation fighter. The Lockheed Martin-built F-22 saw its production halted just about halfway through its initial run, thanks to (arguably shortsighted) defense cutbacks during the Obama era. Subsequent cannibalization of the production line for the sake of the F-35 rapidly eliminated any hope of an F-22 resurgence.
As a result, the United States may possess the best air superiority fighter ever to take to the skies, but it has precious few of them — just the 187 that were originally built (and this number includes some with airframes that have been damaged in flight mishaps and natural disasters.)
With the Air Force already looking toward developing a “sixth-generation” air intercept fighter in the coming years, the venerable F-22 may be replaced before it ever has a chance to really show its chops in a dog fight with a worthy enemy, like Russia’s Su-57 or China’s J-20. But just in case such a fight were to break out, here are a few things the F-22 has up its sleeve that you may not already know about.