Day by day, America is losing its edge in military superiority. Alarm bells should be ringing.
The fast, stealthy F-22 Raptor is “unquestionably” the best air-to-air fighter in the arsenal of the world’s leading air force. That’s what outgoing Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz wrote in 2009.
Three years later, a contingent of German pilots flying their latest Typhoon fighter have figured out how to shoot down the Lockheed Martin-made F-22 in mock combat. The Germans’ tactics, revealed in the latest Combat Aircraft magazine, represent the latest reality check for the $400-million-a-copy F-22, following dozens of pilot blackouts, and possibly a crash, reportedly related to problems with the unique g-force-defying vests worn by Raptor pilots.
The results were a surprise to the Germans and presumably the Americans, too. “We were evenly matched,” Maj. Marc Gruene told Combat Aircraft’s Jamie Hunter. The key, Gruene said, is to get as close as possible to the F-22 … and stay there. “They didn’t expect us to turn so aggressively.”
Gruene said the Raptor excels at fighting from beyond visual range with its high speed and altitude, sophisticated radar and long-range AMRAAM missiles. But in a slower, close-range tangle — which pilots call a “merge” — the bigger and heavier F-22 is at a disadvantage. “As soon as you get to the merge … the Typhoon doesn’t necessarily have to fear the F-22,” Gruene said.
It remains to be seen whether the Raptor and its AMRAAM missiles can reverse these trends. If long-range tactics fail, the F-22 force could very well find itself fighting up close with the latest fighters from China, Russia and other rival nations. And if the Germans’ experience is any indication, that’s the kind of battle the vaunted F-22s just might lose.
Full article: How to Defeat the Air Force’s Powerful Stealth Fighter (Danger Room)