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The end is near for the iconic F-22 Raptor. But even though the Air Force intends to retire the Raptor within the coming decade, the aircraft is still expected to remain in service until the new NGAD fighter comes out.
F-22s are expected to receive a few more upgrades to bridge the gap between the fighter and its replacement.
Among these changes were the new stealthy underwing fuel tanks, pylons, missiles, and infrared search-and-track (IRST) pods.
The new pylons are equipped with smart rack pneumatic technology to control ejection performance and minimize drag. Meanwhile, the upgraded fuel tanks are designed to eject from the wing and leave a smooth surface behind.
IRSTs are among the most effective ways of engaging radar-wicking stealth fighters. Its new IRST systems can identify heat signature without broadcasting radar waves that would announce its presence.
The Raptor might also be able to fire a new and secretive missile called the AIM-260. These air-to-air missiles can reach long distances and are guided by radar.