America’s formidable air superiority fighter, the F-22 Raptor, considered the world’s most capable jet due to its stealth capabilities and sensor fusion technology, has been in several dogfights with the German Eurofighter Typhoon. Lost, severely damaging the mighty Raptor’s reputation.
The Raptor has lost a few dogfights over the years to less advanced fighters like the F-16 and the U.S. Navy’s EA-18G Growler electronic warfare fighter, but it was defeated by the Germans about a decade ago. Losing to the Eurofighters was notable for the traction they received.
At issue is the massive United States Air Force (USAF) Red Flag aerial combat exercise over Alaska in 2012. A variety of aircraft, often from multiple nations, against large-scale, real-world threats recreates near-peer battle situations.
Germany sent eight Eurofighter Typhoons from Jagdgeschwader 74, the Luftwaffe’s 74th Tactical Air Wing, to Eielson AFB in Alaska to engage in a series of WVR dogfights with USAF F-22 Raptors. participated in exercises that included
After the exercise, German Eurofighter pilots arrived at the 2012 Farnborough International Air Show, where they had a quick discussion. their victory against the Raptors.
Although these dogfights were simulated, the German pilots took them very seriously, one of whom said, “I had a raptor salad for lunch.”
F-22 Raptor Vs.Eurofighter Typhoon
The F-22 Raptor and Eurofighter Typhoon were originally designed as air superiority fighters, but the Typhoon eventually matured into a multirole platform. They were developed around the same time, shortly after Typhoon’s first flight in 1994 and his F-22 in 1997.
Both fighters eventually entered service in the early to mid-2000s, with the Typhoon entering active service in 2003, followed shortly by the Raptor in 2005.
However, there are significant differences in how these fighters actually carry out their missions. Building on US breakthroughs in stealth technology that combines advanced sensor fusion and advanced avionics, the F-22 Raptor was supposed to revolutionize air superiority by providing pilots with extreme levels of situational awareness. .
Simply put, the F-22’s onboard computer allows pilots to pay more attention to combat and less to operate the aircraft.
“When you’re flying the Raptor, you’re not thinking about flying the Raptor.” explained As F-22 pilot Randy Gordon said in a lecture at MIT: Flying is secondary. ”
In addition, the F-22 has Thrust Vector Control (TVC) This allows the pilot to tilt the exhaust nozzle up or down to alter the thrust of the engine, making it incredible in WVR combat scenarios where the fighter may have to maneuver nearby enemies to avoid incoming missiles. You can perform as many aerobatics as you can.
“The Raptor has vector thrust, the Typhoon does not,” said RAF Typhoon Pilot and Squadron Commander Rich Wells. Said 2013. Typhoon doesn’t do that. ”
As such, the F-22 can see enemies coming from afar before they can see them, allowing pilots to destroy enemy aircraft without knowing who they hit. At the same time, the 5th generation aircraft also retains excellent maneuverability in traditional dogfight scenarios.
The F-22 is powered by two Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 engines that produce 35,000 pounds (156 kN) of thrust each, according to some open sources, and has a high thrust-to-weight ratio (TWR) of about 1.18. ). .
The Eurofighter Typhoon is powered by two Eurojet EH200 afterburner turbofan engines, each delivering 20,000 pounds (90kN) of thrust and achieving a high TWR of 1.25.
A high TWR means the aircraft is relatively light for the amount of thrust the engine produces. His TWR excellent in the Eurofighter allows rapid acceleration.
Additionally, the Eurofighter has lower “wing loading” (the ratio of aircraft weight to wing area) than the F-22, which combined with higher TWR allows the aircraft to take tighter turns without slowing down. can.
A fighter must be able to accelerate and turn to outmaneuver enemy aircraft, and the Eurofighter has an edge over the F-22 in both of these areas.
Moreover, even though it is 4thA generational fighter, the Typhoon is relatively stealthy due to its design, especially the materials used in its construction.
“The aircraft is built of advanced composite materials, which gives it a low radar profile and a powerful fuselage. provides protection from
Like several other fighter jets, including the F-22, the Typhoon utilizes electronic warfare capabilities to obscure radar reflections.
Raptor was castrated from the beginning!
Mock dogfight at Red Flag Exercise 2012, or so-called Basic Fighter Operations (BFM) In fighter pilot terms, some details about the engagement of F-22s and German Eurofighters in these exercises remain vague.
But some things are known for sure. One is that some of these engagements happened in his WVR, which took away the F-22’s advantages in terms of stealth and sensor fusion.
In practice, F-22 pilots will almost certainly detect a typhoon long before they are aware of the former’s presence, thereby clearing the typhoon from beyond visual range (BVR) or at least placing it in a favorable position for the Raptor. can be placed. position.
Additionally, the F-22 had an external fuel tank, which hindered the Raptor’s maneuverability and stealth. No pilot puts an external fuel tank on the wing of an aircraft and puts it in a dogfight. dump Shortly after being attacked by an enemy aircraft, or long before being attacked.
German Eurofighters were allowed to fly without any external ammunition as well as fuel tanks. This would greatly increase the mobility of German fighters, and the real-life Typhoon could be left without ammunition, but not always. The dogfight tilted in favor of the German Eurofighters from the start.
“There were two mornings where I faced them one-on-one. I removed all the tanks to get maximum alpha. [angle of attack]German Major Marc Gruene, one of the pilots who participated in the training, explained:
Gruene also pointed out that the F-22’s thrust vector control (TVC) hinders rather than helps the F-22’s performance in engaging typhoons in close combat.
“The key is to get as close to the F-22 as possible and stay there,” Gruene told Combat Aircraft magazine in 2012.
“Merging” refers to a very close neutral path, usually in opposite directions, when opposing aircraft are first encountered in an air-to-air engagement.
TVC allows the fighter to perform extreme maneuvers, but these maneuvers come at the expense of the aircraft’s airspeed. This is what dogfights are all about.
As such, when the F-22 makes a sudden maneuver using thrust vectoring nozzles, it becomes vulnerable until airspeed is restored. If the Raptor can’t score a kill immediately after performing such a maneuver, it’s easy meat for predators until the engines are able to get the aircraft moving again.
Experience the F-22 Raptor’s inherent power and thrust vectoring capabilities like never before.
📷 @Sam Eckholm pic.twitter.com/u0f7oDmr3D
— F-22 Demonstration Team (@F22DemoTeam) March 26, 2020
“If you’re ‘defensive’ and your aircraft has thrust vectoring, you can beat the enemy, but it’s probably not a great idea. Energy fighters like the Typhoon conveniently “use vertical” to retain energy. An unnamed Eurofighter test his pilot explained to The Aviationist’s David Centciotti.
“Also, the ensuing acceleration is very time (and fuel) consuming, giving your opponent the opportunity to utilize all of your short-range weapon arrays and pursue you forever,” said the test pilot. said further.
Even if the pilot is aggressive and scores a kill by using the TVC to quickly turn the nose of the fighter at an enemy aircraft, it leaves them vulnerable to other nearby enemy aircraft. This is why no other American fighter type has his TVC.