Much has been made of recent encounters in Alaska betweenthe US Air Force’s Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor and German Luftwaffe’sEurofighter Typhoons a couple of months ago on other sites/news outlets. Fromwhat I can tell, it seems no one really tried to ask the US Air Force side howwell they did–it all comes from the German side.
A 1st Fighter Wing F-22 Raptor lands in Kadena, Japan, July 28, USAF photo
However, I was there for the Luftwaffe’s visit to Alaska.The following is an excerpt from my article. And, I did contact the USAF–thetwo sides tell somewhat differing stories. But then that’s not really thatunexpected.
A Eurofighter over the mountains–EADS photo
As part of the DistantFrontier exercise, F-22s from the USAF’s 525th Fighter Squadron faced offagainst the German fighters in visual-range basic fighter manoeuvres (BFM)combat training.
While Grune does notdirectly say that the Eurofighters emerged as the overall victors, he stronglyimplies it.
“I put out somewhiskey. If they come back with some good performances, and if you know whatthe goal is from a BFM setup, and you achieve that, then I will pay youwhiskey,” he says. “And I paid quite a lot of whiskey.”
That account, however,is strongly disputed by USAF sources flying the F-22. “It sounds as thoughwe have very different recollections as to the outcomes of the BFM engagementsthat were fought,” one Raptor pilot says.
USAF sources say thatthe Typhoon has good energy and a pretty good first turn, but that they wereable to outmanoeuvre the Germans due to the Raptor’s thrust vectoring.Additionally, the Typhoon was not able to match the high angle of attackcapability of the F-22. “We ended up with numerous gunshots,” anotherUSAF pilot says.
A USAF F-22 Raptor from the 1st Fighter Wing at Langley AFB, Va., lands at Kadena, Japan, July 28, USAF Photo
Regardless of theirdiffering accounts, the USAF was grateful for the chance to train with theLuftwaffe. “We optimise the opportunities we get to participate indissimilar air combat training, as those opportunities are all too rare,”says Lt Col Paul Moga, commander of the 525th Fighter Squadron. “Ourrecent BFM hops with the German air force Typhoons were outstanding. Whilecertain uncontrollable factors such as weather and manoeuvring limitations didnot allow for full-up engagements, it is suffice to say that there was muchlearning across the board. The details of each set-up are privy only to thepilots that flew them, as that is the sacred standard among fighter pilots. Onething is for certain – Raptors and Typhoons are a lethal combination.”
Grune says that theRaptor’s advantage lies in its stealth and ability to dominate air-to-airfights from beyond visual range. That is not disputed by USAF sources.
“Its uniquecapabilities are overwhelming from our first impressions in terms of modern aircombat,” Pfeiffer says. “But once you get to the merge, which is onlya very small spectrum of air combat, in that area the Typhoon doesn’t have tofear the F-22 in all aspects.”
The Typhoons werestripped of their external fuel tanks and slicked off as much as possiblebefore the encounter with the Raptors, says Grune, who adds that in thatconfiguration, the Typhoon is an “animal”.
Pfeiffer notes thatthe Eurofighter has better acceleration and can out-climb the F-22.Additionally, he says that the Raptor sinks when it is using its thrustvectoring capabilities, although one USAF source says he is skeptical of theGerman claims.
Overall, Grune saysthe two aircraft are closely matched in the visual range arena, but Pfeiffersays the Typhoon is the superior dogfighter.
A few weeks after I returned from Alaska, I touched base withthe 3rd Wing again. “Idid review the HUD footage, a lot of gun shots from the F-22′s to theEurofighters and not a whole lot coming back,” one Raptor pilot told me.