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Is the F-22 really superior to all other fighter aircraft

Posted by picard578 on December 1, 2012

USAF often touts F-22 as being the best fighter aircraft in the world. Is that really so? What are requirements for a good fighter aircraft?

By analyzing past wars we can see that following requirements have never changed:

  1. high agility at dogfighting speeds (currently in the medium subsonic to transsonic regime)
  2. superior situational awareness
  3. low cost
  4. high sortie rate
  5. capability to convert any split-second opportunity to the kill

High agility requires good acceleration, good turn rate, low energy loss and quick transients. Good acceleration and low energy loss require high thrust-to-weight ratio and low drag; good turn rate requires low wing loading, and quick transients require both. Energy state is important for gaining positional advantage and evading missiles.

Superior situational awareness requires not only having good situational awareness yourself, but denying it to the opponent. These requirements can only be met through use of passive sensors.

Low cost and high sortie rate are required for establishing a crucial numerical superiority over the opponent. Both are achieved by making the design as simple as possible.

Capability to convert any split-second opportunity to the kill is crucial in the dogfight, especially if multiple aircraft are involved on both sides, as it allows pilot to deny opponent the opportunity to reverse positional advantage, and allows him to kill more targets in the same timeframe.

With standard loadout of 50% fuel, 2 Sidewinder, 4 AMRAAM, F-22 has wing loading of 313,5 kg/m2 and thrust-to-weight ratio of 1,29. For comparision, with same loadout, Eurofighter Typhoon has wing loading of 284 kg/m2 and thrust-to-weight ratio of 1,28; Dassault Rafale’s values are 276 kg/m2 and 1,22. Su-27s values are 324 kg/m2 and 1,24. Thus, F-22 is inferior in wing loading to both Eurocanards, and has only slightly superior thrust-to-weight ratio compared to Typhoon. It is also only slightly superior to the Su-27 in wing loading, and somewhat more in thrust-to-weight ratio.

As such, it has slightly better turn rates than Su-27, and worse turn rates than Eurocanards. Its large weight will make it more difficult to F-22 to make transit from one turn to another, and its thrust vectoring will, if used, cause major energy losses. More about that later.

As mentioned, superior situational awareness requires not only having good situational awareness yourself, but denying it to the opponent. What this means is that aircraft must be capable of detecting and identifying the enemy completely passively. Currently, IRST and optical sensors are only types of sensors, except for Mk 1 eyeball, to posses such capability. F-22 lacks both, and as such has to either have an uplink to another platform – and such uplink can be detected and jammed – or to carry out both tasks World War II style, with pilot doing detection and identification visually. While F-22 was supposed to have FLIR, it was deleted as the cost-saving measure, and there are no plans to fit it.

Moreover, while some measures have been taken to reduce F-22s thermal signature, no major reduction was (or could have been) achieved, especially from the front. F-22 is also very large, increasing its detectability by the IRST. Thus, F-22 will be easily detected at ranges exceeding 80 kilometers by opponent using QWIP IRST.

Modern heat-seeking missiles also do not have to rely on engine exhaust for locking on the enemy aircraft, but can rather lock on to aircraft itself.

F-22 also isn’t undetectable to the modern radar, despite what some accounts say. While F-22s RCS of 0,0001 and 0,0014 m2 reduces detection range considerably, Typhoon’s radar (which has detection range of 185 km against 1m2 target) can detect it from distance of 18 to 35 kilometers. On the other hand, modern RWRs can detect LPI radars from ranges two or three times greater than such radars can detect target with RCS of 1 m2 at, thus making any use of radar an unwise course of action for F-22 (and any other fighter aircraft).

Low cost and high sortie rate are where F-22 feels least at home. Its flyaway cost is 250 million USD per unit, which is twice (205%) the flyaway cost of the most expensive non-VLO fighter aircraft – Eurofighter Typhoon – and has maintenance downtime of 45 hours per hour of flight, compared to the 8* hours for Rafale, 9* for Typhoon, 10 for Gripen and 19 for the now-ancient F-16 (* have to be confirmed). However, flyaway costs of these fighters, which are, respectively, 33%, 49%, 16% and 11-24% of F-22s, mean that it will be at 10:1 numerical disadvantage compared to Typhoon, and 26:1 disadvantage against Gripen.

F-22 is also incapable of converting split-second opportunities into kills. Reason for that is the fact that it carries all its armaments internally. It takes around half the second for gun doors to open; for missile bay doors it takes at least that much, and possibly more. Worse, Sidewinders it will be using in visual range dogfight are not simply ejected into air, but have to be lowered by mechanism; however, it is possible that such action will be performed while doors open.

Gun itself is the Gattling design. It offers maximum rate of fire of 6 600 rpm (110 rps), compared to 1 700 rpm (28 rps) for BK-27 used in Typhoon and Gripen, and 2 500 rpm (42 rps) for GIAT-30 used in Rafale. However, firing rate alone cannot be used as a measure of effectiveness.

First, Gattling gun takes some time to achieve full firing rate. While M-61A2 takes 0,25 seconds to spin up to its full firing rate, fact that F-22 has to open bay doors to fire increases that time to 0,75 seconds. For revolver cannon, time is 0,05 seconds. Thus, in first second, F-22 will have fired either 13 or 68 rounds (depending on wether gun doors were opened before or after press on trigger); Typhoon would have fired 27 rounds in the same time, and Rafale 40 rounds.

Second, aircraft now are highly resistant. Thus, per-hit damage and weight fired may be more important than number of projectiles. At projectile weight of 100 g for M-61, 260 g for Typhoon and 244 – 270 g for Rafale, F-22 fares worst in per-hit damage category. For total damage, in first second F-22 will have fired 1,3 to 6,8 kg, Typhoon 7 kg and Rafale 9,8 to 10,8 kg of ammunition.

Third, rotation of gun barrels creates vibrations, which means that Gattling design will be less accurate (more spread) than single-barreled designs, and problem will only increase as gun keeps firing.

While F-22 is supposed to kill opponent at BVR, it only carries 6 BVR missiles. With usual 0,08 Pk ratio against same-era threats, it will take two F-22s to kill a single enemy aircraft. That is made even worse by the fact that F-22 not only has to radiate in order to lock on the enemy aircraft, but has to get close enough to penetrate any jamming – distance that was regularly around 1/3 of maximum radar range; in F-22s case, it will be 50 – 80 kilometers against 1 m2 target, such as Typhoon or aircraft with comparable frontal RCS (J-10?) in air-to-air configuration.

F-22s maximum speed of Mach 1,8 – 2,25 and supercruise speed of Mach 1,5 – 1,7 are better than those of most competitors, as Eurofighter Typhoon – the second-fastest supercruiser – can achieve “only” Mach 1,3 when in combat configuration. Thus, F-22 can choose to run if it finds itself outnumbered too much, but if it does choose to attack, it will most likely be forced to engage the opponent in the visual range.

How maneuverable F-22 is

Many say that F-22 is the most maneuverable fighter aircraft by virtue of its thrust vectoring. So, I have decided to take a closer look at various claims about F-22s agility.

F-22 is the most maneuverable fighter aircraft out there

Some claim that F-22 is the most maneuverable and agile fighter aircraft out there, due to the thrust vectoring. That claim, however, is false.

To execute a turn, aircraft requires lift to pull it around the turn. Even civilian jets make sharper turns this way, by banking. Amount of lift can be roughly estimated through wing loading figures, with the caveat that LEX and close-coupled canards do provide the additional lift during high-alpha maneuvers by strengthening vortices created by the wing.

However, while F-22 does have LEX, it is not the only one. Dassault Rafale has both LEX and close-coupled canards, Saab Gripen has close-coupled canards, and Eurofighter Typhoon, while not having either, does have vortex generators at sides of the fuselage.

Thus, actual lift at high AoA could be estimated by comparing length of forward portion of the wing to the aircraft’s weight. This method is only of limited accuracy, however, it is more accurate than standard wing loading figures for high alpha maneuvers, as large portion of wing stalls in such circumstances.

F-22 has combat weight of 24 883 kg and combined wing leading edge length of cca 12,58 meters, which becomes 20,56 meters when LEX and air intake leading surface are taken into account. Thus loading value will be 1210 kg per meter. However, LEX-generated vortices will improve value.

Eurofighter Typhoon, on the other hand, has combat weight of 14 483 kg and combined wing leading edge length of ~18,3 meters along with canards. Thus its loading value will be 791 kg per meter, or slightly higher, but as with F-22, vortices will improve value – this time vortices generated by strakes at sides of Typhoon’s hull. Both Typhoon and F-22 have similar wing sweep and high-lift devices, so actual lifting area per meter will be the same, except maybe for canards.

At lower angles of attack, when entire wing area is used, F-22 will have wing loading of 319 kg/m2 in standard combat configuration, and Eurofighter Typhoon will have wing loading of 283 kg/m2. Thrust loading ratios will be 1,28 for F-22 and 1,25 for Eurofighter Typhoon.

We can thus see that, while F-22 has thrust-to-weight ratio advantage, Eurofighter Typhoon has both lower combat weight and lower wing loading at combat weight, and thus has better maneuvering performance. Dassault Rafale will have similar advantages, although its canards act more like F-22s LEX, which makes it for two aircraft that have better maneuvering performance than F-22.

F-22 is comparable to F-15C (claim made by Pierre Sprey)

Comparing it to the F-15C, we see two things: wing loading and thrust-to-weight ratio that are very similar, with F-15C having slight advantage. While F-22 is larger and heavier aircraft, it is also unstable, improving its response time and removing resustance of aircraft towards the continued turn. It also has LEX, which improves lift at high angle of attack.

While its internal missile carriage adds weight and frontal area, that is cancelled out by reduced drag due to lack of external stores.

F-22 is worse than F-16

F-22 and F-16 have two major things in common: both are relaxed-stability designs and both have LEX. As such, similar wing loading figures and thrust-to-weight ratios will result in similar maneuverability, especially since F-16 was designed to achieve optimum performance when two wingtip AAMs are present.

With 50% fuel, 2 Sidewinder and 4 AMRAAM F-16C has wing loading of 392 kg/m2, thrust-to-weight ratio of 1,186 and weights 10 936 kg. F-22 has wing loading of 313,5 kg/m2, thrust-to-weight ratio of 1,29 and weights 24 579 kg. Thus, while F-22 will suffer maneuverability penalty due to its size and weight, it is unlikely that F-16C will be able to outmaneuver it.

With F-16A it is a different story. With empty weight of 7 076 kg, it has wing loading of 349,5 kg/m2 and thrust-to-weight ratio of 1,29 (figures for 50% fuel and 2 Sidewinder). While its wing loading is higher than F-22s, F-16A is far lighter and smaller, so it is possible that it could be capable of matching the F-22.

Conclusion

To conclude, while Pierre Sprey’s notion that F-22 is no more maneuverable than F-15C is not supportable, those that insist F-22 is the most maneuverable fighter aircraft in the world are equally wrong. Indeed, new fighters such as Eurofighter Typhoon or Dassault Rafale will have better maneuvering performance with virtue of their better aerodynamics and superior attributes (wing loading, thrust-to-weight ratio, etc). F-22 also does not meet force size requirements.

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20 Responses to “Is the F-22 really superior to all other fighter aircraft”

  1. MX1 said

    Estimating maneuverability with wing loading is not entierly accurate. Modern aircraft make use of Body Lift in order to lessen the wing load, Thrust to drag ratio should also be taken into account. An F-16 has higher wing loading than an F-4, but which will you bring to a “knife fight”?

    Here is a paragraph on the Eurofighter site itself

    At supersonic velocities (Mach 1.6 and 36,000ft) the sustained turn rate of the Eurofighter betters all but the F-22, while its instantaneous turn rate is superior to the F-22. At low altitudes, Eurofighter can accelerate from 200kts to Mach 1.0 in under 30 seconds. In a similar vain to its supersonic performance, the sustained and instantaneous subsonic turn rates of the Eurofighter are bettered only by the F-22. Only the Rafale comes close to the matching the Eurofighter’s capabilities in these comparisons.

    Clearly the raptor out turns the typhoon except on instanteous supersonic turns

    • picard578 said

      And at Red Flag Alaska, Typhoon was shown to be more maneuverable than F-22.

      Besides, you are wrong. Yes, modern aircraft use body lift; neither Typhoon or F-22 are an exception, but Typhoon has strakes whose function is to increase body lift during turns. At high AoA, F-22s body lift won’t be enough to make difference. It does have LEX, but wing loading, size and weight differences are simply too large.

      Second, F-22 is, regardless of what you can hear in LM commertials, rather draggy when turning due to TVC, and unlike so-called “legacy” aircraft, its internal missile carriage means that it carries permanent drag and weight penalty.

      For Eurofighter site, that is marketing for un-/mis- -educated people who believe that TVC = instant win button. TVC is largerly irrelevant for dogfight; it is only useful for post-stall and supersonic maneuverability.

      • Mangler Muldoon said

        As you know, stealth is achieved through more than just rcs and IR signature reduction. The various passive signature reduction methods on the F-22 are far more extensive than those on the Eurofighter. Emission control principles make the Raptor’s APG-77 much more difficult to detect than the Eurofighter’s ESA. While its true LPI radar’s can still be detected, its certainly helps. In this article, you don’t seem to consider it to be important at all. The cost issue is certainly correct. The com systems in the F-22 are also designed to be minimally detectable.
        The fly away cost you used seems to be on the highest end possible for those estimates (most are between 150-200 million USD). The Eurofighter Tranche 3A isn’t exactly cheap either in terms of fly away cost (~130 million USD). In terms of operating costs, the F-22 is indeed more expensive.
        In regards to maneuverability, no aircraft is always better in every criteria e.g. wing loading, sustained turn ability, g limit tolerance, thrust to weight ratio, rate of climb, angle of attack limitations, acceleration, etc. Its purely academic to list figures that are marginally different from one another and say the Typhoon is superior. Real world testing is always preferable. In the most recent red flag (not 2012 I’m referring to 2013) both nation’s pilots have stressed the different aspects in which their jets have improved maneuverability. characteristics over the other: http://www.defensenews.com/article/20130211/TSJ01/302110009/British-U-S-Squadrons-Prep-Red-Flag?odyssey=nav%7Chead
        To say the Raptor is more maneuverable or the Typhoon is more maneuverable doesn’t actually really mean much. Pilots will always have capitalize on the relative strength’s and weakness of their aircraft. Both aircraft are supremely maneuverable. In regards to Pierre Sprey, he is in the extreme minority in terms of assessing the Raptor’s maneuverability characteristics. Real combat exercises have demonstrably proven the Raptor is superior to legacy platforms in nearly every aspect of maneuverability. Cost and practicality can certainly be argued, but to say the F-22 is less maneuverable than legacy aircraft is (to use the scientific term) BS.

      • picard578 said

        1) If radar and RWR use same or similar technology, radar will usually be detected by RWR at several times its own detection range, though sensitivity is also important. While AESA radars undoubtably are great advantage over opponents in Africa, Middle East and maybe some other parts of the world, it is detectable by more modern RWRs.

        2) Flyaway costs vary with time, fixes and upgrades, though usually not as much as unit procurement costs. Last figure I have for F-22 is from 2011, when it was 250 million USD; Typhoon’s flyaway cost is 118 million USD Tranche 2, 125 – 130 Tranche 3. F-22s flyaway cost estimates in particular were 177 million USD in 2006, 218 million USD in 2009. Typhoon’s flyaway costs vary between 100 and 130 million USD.

        3) Instanteneous turn performance is more dependant on lift, sustained turn performance is more dependant on thrust to weight ratio. Wing loading is, for most aircraft, good indication of maneuverability, though there are exceptions (Gripen and F-16 both have large amounts of body lift, for example).

        For F-22 and Typhoon, Typhoon is more maneuverable in transonic region and most of subsonic one, whereas F-22 is likely more maneuverable at very low speeds (<150 kt) and supersonic speeds above M 1,2 due to the thrust vectoring (I'm not entirely sure about supersonic maneuverability, though, as canards in long arm configuration also help a lot in that regime). Typhoon also isn't "legacy" platform, neither are Rafale and Gripen; actually I'd say that their aerodynamics are more advanced than those of F-22, which is limited by stealth requirements.

        As for F-16A, it is entirely possible that it may be able to outmaneuver F-22: both of them are relaxed-stability designs, but while F-16A has higher wing loading, it is also smaller, lighter and its configuration means that it will have more body lift. However, F-16A is not in US service any more, as what USAF is using now is overweight F-16C.

      • Dennis F. said

        @ Mangler Muldoon:

        http://theaviationist.com/2013/02/21/raptor-vs-typhoon-us/#.UXA_D7X8FkY

  2. Basque_Spaniard said

    I´m Spaniard and I said:
    1º F-22 (USA): The Best one without any doubt
    2º PAK-FA (Russian)
    3º Eurofighter Typhoon (EU)
    4º F-35* (USA)
    *The F-35 in special climate difficults can win to PAK-FA and Eurofighter typhoon and its the best “naval” fighter in the world.
    In the case of PAK-FA and Eurofighter Typhoon, there was a test in UK between PAK-FA and Eurofighter, the test win PAK-FA but the pilot said that the Eurofighter push all the PAK-FA limits in order to win.

    • picard578 said

      F-22 isn’t really that good, PAK FA isn’t operational and F-35 is bomber; Rafale is definetly superior to F-35.

      As for that test, I assume it was BVR combat simulation, I doubt that Russians would provide a prototype for dogfight.

  3. […] Is the F-22 really superior to all other fighter aircraft […]

  4. FrankW said

    There is a difference between agility and maneuverability. The Rafale is probably the most agile fighter in existence today (just watch its airshow demos, the cameras can barely keep up with the jet). While the F-22 (due to TVC) is probably the most maneuverable jet. However, In a knife fight, lets use a little common sense here. The Rafale is far smaller, has canards, has less drag, and lighter than the Raptor. Just as the F-16A was far smaller (had less drag) and lighter than the F-15A. While for BVR the Raptor is probably by far, the best (and it has a lower RCS). The French learned their lessons with highly swept deltas (Mirage III, Mirage 2000, Mirage 4000). They decreased the wing sweep to 48 degrees on the Rafale (they probably realized that even with the canard, a highly swept delta (52 degrees or more) still produces a considerable amount of drag). The Brits did not do this with Typhoon (53 degree wingsweep), and as a consequence it seems not as agile as Rafale. However, the Typhoon, like the Raptor, is a better BVR platform than Rafale. Finally, all three jets have their advantages and disadvantages. But it is rather laughable to say that the F-22 is the best in every category just because Lockheed-Martin says so-

    • picard578 said

      F-22s trun rates are still limited by aerodynamics, TVC compensates for lack of effectiveness that classical controls surfaces experience at supersonic speeds.

      As for BVR, what you say is true if you take only radar into account, but RWRs and IRST may well become primary sensors in the future.

  5. Kevin said

    This was such a dumbass article.It’s like the author has a personal vendetta against the F-22.Not only did he negate the fact that the F-22 has effective IR reduction methods, he goes on to say that AESA with LPI is not a good idea.Also,the F-22 has the most advanced passive sensors, and can carry 6 AMRAAM,not 4.What pisses me the most is that he said 45 hours of maintenance per hour flow,it’s 10.Many F-22 early assertions are incorrect.Watch F-22 Raptor WP report =incorrect on youtube to see more false assertions disproved.

    • picard578 said

      Your info is outdated, and other is wrong. F-22 has no IRST, which means that it only gets first detection if enemy is stupid enough to use radar and/or not to use IRST. While it does have IR signature reduction measures but it doesn’t really help considering it is still huge target and modern IRSTs can detect differences in temperature that are in single digit degrees C. If F-22 uses radar, it gets detected. For maintenance, 10 hours was a target which was never achieved, Gripen achieves 10 hours of maintenance per hour of flight and do you really expect F-22 to be better than a single-engined fighter specifically designed for easy maintenance?

      And where did I say that F-22 can carry 4 AMRAAM? I used 2 IR AAM and 4 BVR AAM simply in order to have equal loadout for all fighters compared, so as to avoid penalizing larger fighters – Gripen can carry a maximum of 6 missiles, and that is what decided loadout used for comparision.

      • Kevin said

        Never did I say the F-22 has IRST, I said IR signature reduction was part of the F-22 design.45 hours of maintenance per hour flown is highly unrealistic.The actual figures are closer to 10.LM never claimed that the F-22 is the best in every category,they just said the best fighter.

      • picard578 said

        IR signature reduction is a relative thing, an aircraft with no IR signature reduction measures but inherently low IR signature can have lower IR signature than larger aircraft with extensive IR signature reduction measures.

        10 maintenance hours was a goal that was never achieved. F-22 and F-35 currently can fly a single 1-hour sortie every two days.

        And F-22 is not the best fighter:

        http://defenseissues.wordpress.com/2014/08/30/comparing-modern-fighter-aircraft/

  6. […] http://defenseissues.wordpress.com/2012/12/01/is-the-f-22-really-superior-to-all-other-fighter-aircr&#8230; […]

  7. Jimmy said

    The F-22 and F35 are both from the same company, that’s practically a gold mind of a defense contract. I just have freaks over the cost of the F22 and at this point even the F35. When for US servicemen, the A-10 is by far the most favored by troops on the ground and arguable most useful. The A-10 cost is very low compared to any new generation plane. The Marines themselves have ample support from the UH1/AH1 and F-18s.

    is the need for an air superiority plane as needed in this modern day of warfare? Carrier-based platforms with skilled pilots can perform the same array of missions and have the luxury of a moving airbase with them. To me air superiority seems to more pissing contest than actual needs/uses. I’ve always liked the Super Hornet and the carrier based stuff, but now days it seems i’ve taken a liking to rotary wings.

    Good write up though, thanks for the read.

  8. Stryker said

    This article seems to be only good for starting arguments, and based on some isolation of certain aspects of chosen aircraft to make points that in a combat situation won’t matter as much as the author hopes.

    Every fighter aircraft has advantages and disadvantages, and dissimilar flight envelopes. Our European friends have made some admirable aircraft which have proven their worth in various theaters of operation. With the U.S. going in first to soften up the opposition, taking out air defense capability and degrading a lot of the enemies’ air defense capacity, but that’s another whole pub discussion.

    Not being a perfect weapons system, the F-22 Raptor has weaknesses. But every fighter pilot is trained to use his fighter and enter every engagement to maximize their advantages, and U.S. pilots aren’t stupid. What I would take as a serious word on how good or weak the F-22 is, wouldn’t be from some blogger with no given credentials, but the fighter jocks who have to train against each another. On that point, I present this:

    “They [the F-22s] always start defensive as you might imagine because anything else is kind of a waste of gas. So the F-22 always start defensive. On rare occasions the F-22 guy — first of all, the [F-15] Eagle guy, you have to fly a perfect fight. You have to have AIM-9X and JHMCS [joint helmet mounted cueing system] to get an off-boresight IR [infrared] capability. And the F-22 guy has to put up his power (electronics and radar) a nanosecond too early and not use his countermeasures and you may get a fleeting, one nanosecond AIM-9X shot, and that’s about it.” – See more at: http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/the-dewline/2012/02/top-usaf-general-explains-exac/#sthash.kIxS5ham.dpuf

    And

    “We’ve (F-15s) been fighting the Raptor and getting our butts kicked, and you know the only chance you have against the Raptor is when he’s in the turn and he’s coming around the corner — and you have an inexperienced guy because the experienced guys know not to get there — but the inexperienced guy has got — and this is, no [shoot], 28-degrees-per-second turn rate at 20,000 feet. The F-15 has an instantaneous [turn rate] of 21 [degrees] and a sustained [turn rate] of about 15-20 degrees. The Raptor can sustain 28 degrees. Some of these young guys, that’s not enough for them. They want more than that! So they come around the corner, and, here you are in your Eagle, just hoping that he gets scared and … [the F-22 pilot] pulls to the point where he’s going post-stall manoeuvring. Once he goes post-stall, the airplane stops moving around the centre of lift on the wing and it goes around the centre of gravity up by the nose because it goes on just thrust, and the ass-end drops down, and the airplane will rotate like this. Well, in the Eagle, or in the [F-16] Viper, when you see that, you immediately go vertical because you know he’s not going to be able to go up with you, and you have one fleeting opportunity against the Raptor and that’s it.” – See more at: http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/the-dewline/2012/02/top-usaf-general-explains-exac/#sthash.kIxS5ham.dpuf

    Honestly, I think rather than pitting allies against each other to make the author feel good about some aspect of French fighters, this blog should have been concerned with the Sukhoi Flanker family of fighters, which are seriously challenging opponents. But maybe next blog…

    • picard578 said

      ” With the U.S. going in first to soften up the opposition, taking out air defense capability and degrading a lot of the enemies’ air defense capacity, but that’s another whole pub discussion.”

      Completely wrong, in Libya Rafales were bombing before US started SEAD/DEAD operations – Rafales started bombing on 19 March 2011; at the same day, US only carried out cruise missile strikes, with first US aircraft combat sorties carried out on 20 March (these included Growlers). RAF aircraft also started bombing on 19 March, albeit later than Rafales. And Rafale strikes started *before* US cruise missile strikes.

      This is rough timeline:

      19 March:
      16:45 – Rafales attack Libyan ground forces
      21:00 – US and UK ships launch Tomahawk cruise missiles

      20 March:
      11 sorties by French aircraft over Libya
      3 B-2 bombers targeted 45 Libyan aircraft shelters
      EA-18G started jamming Libyan radars and communications
      4 Danish F-16s fly their first mission over Libya

      21 March
      55 sorties by French aircraft over Libya; a T-55 destroyed by Mirage 2000-D 100 km south of Benghazi
      all fixed SAM sites have been taken out

      22 March
      aircraft from Charles de Gaulle began operations over Libya
      F-15E crashed
      113 sorties by US aircraft over Libya

      (…)

      Also see this:

      http://www.defense-aerospace.com/article-view/feature/125860/rafale-in-combat%3A-%E2%80%9Cwar-for-dummies%E2%80%9D.html

      >>Rafale pilots are also very complementary about their SPECTRA self-protection suite, which is of critical importance as France does not have any aircraft dedicated to the Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) missions. “SPECTRA allowed us to begin operations over Libya the very same day the political decision was taken, and to fly deep into Libyan territory without an escort,” says one pilot, adding that “the Americans also flew in, but only after they had fired 119 Tomahawks to take out Libyan air defenses.” <<

      Rafales were capable of independent operations over Libya, while most US aircraft required a) cruise missiles strikes prior to operation, and b) jammer escort during the mission.

      "U.S. pilots aren’t stupid"

      But US generals are.

      "Honestly, I think rather than pitting allies against each other to make the author feel good about some aspect of French fighters, this blog should have been concerned with the Sukhoi Flanker family of fighters, which are seriously challenging opponents."

      I am interested in (among other things) failures of Western procurement system. F-22 is one example of that failure – while it is a-ok in one-on-one comparision, it is a strategic suicide for air superiority due to being too expensive to procure in numbers needed and too complex to fly as often as needed. As far as comparision with Flankers (and some other Eastern fighters) goes, see here:

      http://defenseissues.wordpress.com/2014/08/30/comparing-modern-fighter-aircraft/

      As for your articles, that is one of examples of causes of that failure. Yes, F-22 is far superior to the F-15/F-16/F-18 in one-on-one comparision, but you shouldn't be comparing solely one F-22 to one F-15 or F-16, but one F-22 to four F-15s or six F-16s, in keeping with their relative sortie generation capability. Numbers matter.

  9. Kevin Vasquez said

    F-22 carries 6 AMRAAM in main weapons bay,and 2 sidewinders on side bays. You say that the other planes have an advantage because they are cheaper and can be bought in greater numbers? Well,tell me how many planes they have been able to afford. Also,in the Red Flag exercises, in terms of maneuverability, both the F-22 and the F1 Typhoon were pretty much equal in 1 on 1 dogfights. And I’m very sure most pilots would agree to say that one hit is all it takes for them to pull the ejection lever. And it’s false what you say about the F-22 having to visually identify airplanes, the F-22 has an advanced IFF. And like I said before,45 hours of maintenance per hour of flight is a lie. The goal was 10 hours and it has been achieved, and the engineers have actually done better than 10 hours.

    • picard578 said

      1) I know that F-22 can carry 8 missiles internally but I used 6 missiles as a standardized loadout so as not to penalize larger aircraft.
      2) Sweden has 80 Gripens on 9.700.000 inhabitants (1 aircraft per 121.250 inhabitants). France has 133 Rafales, 166 Mirage and 21 Super Etendard on 66.600.000 inhabitants (1/500.751 for Rafales and 1/208.125 total). US have 178 F-22, 39 F-35, 343 A-10, 473 F-15, 1.241 F-16, 647 F-18C/D, 473 F-18E/F, 117 EA-18 on 316.100.000 inhabitants (1/1.456.682 for stealth aircraft, 1/391.698 for “modern” aircraft and 1/90.031 total). So not much better than Sweden despite far greater (3 times as large) defense spending per capita.
      3) And Typhoon is significantly inferior to Rafale in maneuverability.
      4) Advanced IFF that nobody can really use because of surprise (stealth) requirements of combat.
      5) Goal maintenance has never been achieved.

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