US Air Force Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptors and UK Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoons (FGR4) are participating in Exercise Razor Talon prior to their deployment to the massive Red Flag war-game at Nellis AFB, Nevada, later this month.
These photos were taken over Atlantic near Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina, where the exercise took place.
The exercises are mutually beneficial to both the USAF’s 27th Fighter Squadron flying the Raptor and to the British, since that nation is still America’s closest ally. My former colleague Brian Everstine at Air Force Times/Defense News recently wrote an excellent article on what the training benefits are for both sides.
A couple of notable excerpts:
“It’s a pretty cool opportunity,” said Capt. Austin Skelley, an F-22 pilot with the 27th Fighter Squadron who helped plan the joint exercise, called Western Zephyr. “People are really excited and eager to fight with and against Typhoon.”
The Typhoon is a unique airframe from the F-22 pilot’s perspective, offering advanced avionics, improved situational awareness and plenty of power in thrust and speed that pilots don’t encounter when going head-to-head against F-15s, F-16s and F/A-18s, Langley pilots said.
“The Typhoon offers the F-22 a unique capability that sort of bridges the gap between the fourth and fifth generation,” Skelley said.
While the fighters are the most advanced from their respective countries, they have different abilities and advantages. The agility of the F-22 is what first jumped out to Wells, he said.
“Raptor has vector thrust: Typhoon doesn’t,” he said. “What the aircraft can do, it’s incredible. The Typhoon just doesn’t do that.”
The Typhoon’s strength, however, is in both carrying weapons and deploying them. With its two Eurojet EJ200 turbojet engines producing 20,000 pounds of thrust each and the distinctive wing and canard layout, the jet is strong in both its air-to-ground and air-to-air formats no matter what it’s carrying. In its air-to-ground role, the jet flies with four beyond-visual-range missiles, a Lightning 3 designation pod, extra fuel tanks, [4 X 1000 (there is a slight copy error in the original)]-pound bombs and two short-range missiles. These can be aimed by the pilot looking in the direction of an adversary and targeting through a helmet-mounted system, Wells said.
“As we bolt things to the jet … it still flies like a Typhoon,” he said. “High and fast, and that’s where she loves to be. She loves being at 40,000 feet and supersonic. It’s brilliant in terms of performance and getting places.”