You may know it as a fighter, but at one point, the Air Force thought about changing it so it could drop bombs. The FB-22 was supposed to be a twin of the F-22 Raptor.
Even though most people think of it as a fighter, the Air Force first considered turning it into a bomber. The FB-22 was the code name for the F-22 Raptor’s bigger, possibly just as a stealthy but less maneuverable brother. In the early to mid-2000s, the Air Force Secretary supported the bomber type.
Though the FB-22 project was ultimately scrapped, it may have inspired the B-21 Raider stealth bomber.
In 2003, former Air Force Secretary James Roche and others developed the concept. What if they converted a stealth platform with high speed and agility into a medium-range bomber? It would be a welcome addition to the arsenal. The FB-22 may have sneaked up on enemy objectives, bypassing air defenses and releasing precision munitions like the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM). Because of his enthusiasm, Roche suggested that the Air Force purchase one hundred fifty FB-22s.
The F-22 was put through its paces as a standoff bomber.
In 2006, the F-22 was tested by simulating a joint direct attack munition. The F-22 exceeded expectations in a test drop of a JDAM on a target. The Raptor’s altitude and speed were 50,000 feet and Mach 1.5; later, The bomb was released from a height of 1,000 feet, about 24 nautical miles from its intended target. Proof that the F-22 is capable of launching a far-range attack.
It would need a lot of effort, which was food for thought. Modifications to the F-22’s structure were necessary to use it exclusively as a bomber. It necessitated a more capacious craft, a longer fuselage, a second pilot/weapons officer, and possibly even a delta-shaped wing to accommodate the additional weight. Including a cockpit may have affected stealth performance.
Adding explosives and making the payload heavier may have changed the radar-absorbing materials in a way that made the ship less stealthy. Only two 1,000-pound JDAMs can be carried in the current-generation F-22. External bombs placed on the wing hard points might have compromised radar avoidance. It started to happen repeatedly, which is concerning. They made more adjustments, and the less stealth there would be. In addition, they needed more fuel space for the F-22. They also worried that they wouldn’t have enough fuel to get home. You’ll need a tanker with a longer range to fly deep into enemy territory without refueling at least once.
It would have been reasonable to make the alterations if the FB-22 could carry nuclear weapons and fly across the globe. However, the FB-22 was only meant to be used as a medium-range bomber. Might it have reached Taiwan if it had launched from Guam? Might it have reached Russian targets if it were located in Germany? Might it have reached Iran if it had launched from Qatar?
The FB-22 plan was scrapped in favor of developing the B-21, a new generation of the bomber. Nonetheless, it would help if you gave the Air Force credit for making an effort. We decided to leverage a pre-existing platform that already uses cutting-edge technology instead of starting from scratch.