ILSM on the F-22

Reader ILSM continues his commentary on the new F-22 fighter.


I have compared the F-22, a “fifth generation fighter”, to a Porsche which has no road to run on. I have implied there are no threat aircraft out there. That may or may not be the case. The only other “fifth generation fighter” is the US F-35. The Russian design houses are working on “fifth generation” designs.

Doing a bit of research I find I am in part wrong. There are potential competitors; some are supposed to be quite equal to the F-22. Aside from the Russians and Chinese, who use Russian designs and engines, the competitors for the F-22 are Europeans, supposedly our allies. The Chinese are delivering their indigenous J-10, a generation 4.5.

The recently retired chief of staff of the Air Force, who should be more knowledgeable than I, flew both the F-22 and the Eurofighter Typhoon. He said the Typhoon was a “NASCAR racer” while the F-22 was a “Formula-1 racer, cannot compare the two”. I would not buy a car from him.

The F-22 specification was written in 1979, and has been changed a lot over the past 28 years. The prototype contract was let in 1986, the design selected in 1991 and the first crash took place in Apr 1992. The first unit received F-22s in 2004, twenty five years!

It has survived huge cost increases, and long delays.

Technical advances in the F-22 are: low supersonic cruise without afterburner, maneuverability, avionics and stealth.

In comments on another thread, reader Buffpilot said the F-22 shot down 5 or 6 fourth generation aircraft in a scripted flying simulation. I have seen reported simulations nearer to 1 to 1 with generation 4.5 Typhoon adversaries.

Generation 4.5 jet fighters are: late models of the F-16, F-15 and F-18; the Chinese J-10, a MiG, an Su and the Eurofighter.

The US has spent 25 years and a huge amount of money to build a totally new aircraft that is marginally equal to the competition in air combat or dogfighting. So, it needs other work. It needs to shoot down cruise missiles; which means it needs large numbers and time on station to be a platform for air to air missiles, a job that should be done by older F-16’s with new avionics.

It needs to be an interceptor, just like the F-106, my generation air defense with delta wings and one engine controlled by off system intelligence. It is optimized for fighting dog fights but is so expensive it needs to do other things.

Do we really need a dog fighter? I would propose a look toward the battleship war during WW I. The battleships were so vital and so expensive that the Germans never came out with them. The Germans and British deterred each other. They found other ways to do the war at sea, submarines.

What should the we do if:

The F-22 is barely equal to the Typhoon or J-10?

Is far Superior to the Typhoon or J-10?

Is inferior to the Typhoon or J-10?

My answer to all three potential truths, which we won’t know, is keep working on a design and do not build nor train with the F-22. The ability of the plane to solve a set of tactical opponents is not clear.

Same for the F-35.