The F-22 Raptor is a stealthy, 5th-generation fighter aircraft of the U.S. Air Force and easily considered the best fighter jet in the world. Using low observable technologies, state-of-the-art avionics, and efficient engines, the F-22 Raptor is often hailed as invisible and invincible.
However, the F-22 raprots were in for a rude shock by Rafale Jets. Even before the French victory in a training exercise in the UAE in 2009, the Americans were aware that their latest addition to their air infantry, the F-22 was beatable, although they did not mention it.
Past evidence has confirmed that a French jet once downed an American F-22 Raptor stealth fighter in a mock combat. The news is big for a couple of reasons.
The F-22 is built by American defense giant Lockheed Martin especially for the US. The F-22 is considered a technological marvel and one of the most advanced and fearsome fighter jets in the world. The F-22 costs around a quarter-billion-dollar per plane and is believed to fly higher and faster than any of its competitors while avoiding radar detection.
The United States has ordered around 180 F-22s for its air force to ward off any threats by enemies with an even larger number of jets. So every mock fight that F-22 loses, it poses a serious danger to Washington’s plans for air dominance.
The French victory against F-22s speaks volumes about its limitations and has shocked the US, even more, considering that the French do not have a good air combat reputation especially on account of their World War II history wherein they lost to Nazi Germany and surrendered Paris.
The French along with the British and the US conducted a training exercise or a mock combat in November 2009 in Al Dhafra in UAE. The French had Rafales while the British had typhoons and the US were using the F-22 raptors for the joint training.
In December 2009, the French Ministry of Defence released a video grab from Rafale’s forward-facing camera showing an F-22 in a disadvantageous dogfighting position implying that the French had alteast downed one F-22 in the mock combat.
However, the Americans refuted the evidence and countered by claiming that their planes had gone undefeated against the French and in-fact the F-22 had shot down Rafale’s six times in one on one engagement while five other mock fights had ended in a draw.
The United States accepted to just one loss of an F-22 by a Mirage-2000 flown by an Emirati Aviator. However, the American lie was caught after the French Ministry of Defence posted a video in June on their website that showed a Rafale moved into a good position to lock the F-22 in its range in order to launch the infrared-guided Mica missile against the defending F-22.
It is unclear what scenario was being played out in the mock air combat training, whether F-22 started lower and slower to allow the Rafale to catch up is unknown. But the evidence available from the video grab shows that a decade-old Rafale which is technologically inferior to the F-22 is still very competitive to the F-22s raptors at close quarters.
However, the fact that the F-22 was beatable was known to the Americans even before the exercise in November 2009 in the UAE. In-fact in 2006 an F-16 which was built in the 1980s was able to strike the F-22 during its first major air exercise while in early 2009 a Navy Growler jet designed to jam enemy radars had also been able to lock down F-22 in its sight.
“No matter how magical the F-22 is, any pilot can make a mistake,” admitted Lt. Col. Dirk Smith, a Raptor Squadron Commander.
In-fact the 2009 exercise in UAE was just one of the mock combat rills wherein the F-22 Raptor was shot down. In June 2012, a flying squad of German fighter pilots flying the new Typhoon fighters as the British had figured out, also shot down the F-22 in a mock drill.
The German Typhoons proved themselves equal in basic fighter maneuvers in close-range dogfights against the F-22s eight times in a two-week war game in Alaska. “We were evenly matched,” said German Major Marc Gruene while speaking to Combat Aircraft. The key was to get as close as possible to the powerful F-22 and stay there. “They didn’t expect us to turn so agressively.”
Gruene explained that F-22 proves worthy while fighting from beyond range because of its high speed, high altitude and high-tech radar and long-range missile, but in close quarters, the F-22 is at a disadvantage because of its weight. “As soon as you get close, you don’t have to fear the F-22,” Gruene said.
This first appeared in 2013 in WarIsBoring here.