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A VENERATED GIANT'S WEAKNESS? - F-22 excels at long-range, but not as much in traditional dogfights

Eurofighter Typhoons
Since its introduction, the F-22 Raptor has been known as the most advanced fighter aircraft in the world. This is certainly not an exaggeration. With its stealth capabilities, state-of-the-art detection equipment (e.g. radars), powerful computers, and potent engines, the aircraft was years ahead of the best fighter aircraft fielded by any other country out there. It was also a Hollywood icon, appearing in multiple Blockbusters such as Iron Man, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, and The Avengers.


However, in a recent (this June) mock military exercise of an international scale called the Red Flag training exercise in Alaska, the F-22 found itself equally matched by Europe's finest fighter aircraft, the Eurofighter Typhoon, in traditional dogfighting. This comes as a surprise since during the 2006 Red Flag exercise, the F-22's had a 144:0 kill ratio; an undefeated giant. As such, the German pilots that confronted the Raptors had initially went in doubtful of their own aircraft's performance and only when the mock aerial duelling start did they realise they could match the F-22 almost turn for turn. 

This, however, is not a big problem for the F-22 Raptor. The aircraft mainly excels in long-range combat where it is able to track down and lock on to the target miles before the enemy can do the same or do it at all. In fact, according to two German officers that were present at the exercise, Col. Andreas Pfeiffer and Maj. Marco Gumbrecht, the F-22 was far superior compared to the Eurofighter at long range, being able to target the fighter 20 miles out. This is probably why it was so dominant in Red Flag 2006. 

F-22 Raptor
In light of the training exercise, many US military officials have come out to defend the Raptor, arguing primarily that the Raptor and Eurofighter were designed for two different aspects of combat and thus hard to be compared. Much of this reaction stemmed from the F-22's hefty price tag of an estimated $ 420 million while the Eurofighter costs less than half as much at just under $ 200 million.

The Red Flag training exercise is a two week ordeal where the air forces of countries allied to the United States meet to undergo simulated air wars, pitching the pilots in a variety of missions. Red Flag takes place in the US annually. You can watch the 2004 Red Flag exercise in the IMAX documentary, Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag

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