There are probably several reasons why the United States never exported its famous 5th generation F-22 Raptor to allied nations.

The first and most obvious is that US leaders and weapons developers wanted to ensure that cutting-edge technologies, developed exclusively, remained in the hands of US forces alone.

The US military does not want to compromise any massive advantage it may have over its adversaries.

Proprietary technologies on the F-22

The United States may be reluctant to produce an “export” variation because of the danger of offending other countries with its proprietary and potentially sensitive technologies.

Many countries have access to export versions of the Abrams and Apache, and the F-35 is also fast expanding its international presence. This suggests that the United States may keep key information about the F-22 secret for more nuanced and consequential reasons.

Such a question invites speculation, and some may ask if it relates to its air superiority technology, maneuverability, and air-to-air strike capacity.

Certain key specifications of the F-22, such as its 1.08 thrust-to-weight ratio or its Mach 2.25 speed, are not unmatched, as the Russian Su-57‘s specifications show a slightly higher thrust-to-weight ratio of 1.18, and a speed of Mach 2.2 only slightly less. According to World Defense, the Su-35 has the best thrust-to-weight ratio, 1.30, and the American F-15, 1.29.

So, if several planes are as fast as the F-22 and capable of flying with an equivalent or even better thrust-to-weight ratio… Why is the F-22 considered by many to be the best? What characteristics does the F-22 have that no other aircraft has?

Why does only the United States fly the F-22 Raptor stealth fighter?

An advantage in the air

There is no export variant because the aircraft incorporates specific technologies that give it an advantage over its competitors. It is possible that even creating an export variant of the F-22 gave away too much information about the plane and allowed too many countries to become familiar with its way of flying.

Although it is widely recognized as a superior air-to-air fighter, the Pentagon understandably did not want too many of its allies learning to maneuver, battle, and train with such a privileged technology. In recent years, the F-22 has received substantial upgrades to its stealth skin, weapon guidance, sensors, and electronics.

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Impossible to replicate in another part of the world

However, there are likely aspects of the early models of the F-22, and specific details about how it flew, that simply weren’t replicated anywhere else in the world. The Pentagon wanted it to stay that way.

Also, from a manufacturing standpoint, the F-22 program did not reach the anticipated fleet size, so a sufficient production aircraft may not have been established to support the foreign variants.