F-22 Retirement and SLEP

Air Force Materiel Command chief Gen. Don Hoffman said during a Feb. 27 interview in Orlando (see above) that he has a team looking at ways that the earliest F-22s—some of which go back to the late 1990s—can have their service lives extended when they reach their planned life expectancy in about ten years. It won’t be easy. Unlike sheet metal airplanes like the F-15 and F-16, the F-22 is almost all plastic and composites in the wings and external fuselage. It’s not known yet how easy it will be to swap out parts of the structure.