Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
The F-22 Came Face To Face With Russia's Top Fighter And Was At A Major Disadvantage
Two US F-22 stealth fighter jets intercepted Russian Su-25 and Su-35 jets that crossed into the US's area of operation over Syria on Wednesday, and it highlights a downside to the US's top fighter jets.
The F-22, with its incredible acrobatic abilities in air and all-aspect stealth cloaking it from enemies at a distance, is the US's most lethal combat plane.
While the F-35 has been built as a flying quarterback that can dogfight, bomb ground targets, gather intelligence, or conduct surveillance, the F-22 specializes in one thing: air-to-air combat.
But with today's rules of engagement, the F-22's huge advantages in stealth mean little.
During an intercept, a jet pulls up next to the plane that has invaded its airspace and tells the plane via radio some version of "turn around or this will escalate."
At this time, it's customary for the jet to tilt its wings and show the intruding adversary a wing full of missiles. But the F-22 can never do that. Because of its stealth design, the F-22 stores all missiles and bombs internally.
A pilot intruding into US or US-protected airspace and meeting an F-22 really has no idea whether the jet is armed. And the Russian Su-35 holds more missiles than the F-22, and it holds them where everyone can see.
On top of that, if a routine interception were to turn kinetic, the F-22 would start the battle at a huge disadvantage.
Stealth advantage negated
F-22s rely on stealth and establishing the battle on their own terms. When the enemy jet can't tell where the F-22 is, the F-22 pilot's preferred course of action is to dictate the battle and ideally to score a kill without ever being seen.
If a fight were to start during an intercept like the one this week, the Russian pilot would start with the huge advantage of having the F-22 in sight. What's more, the Russian Su-35 can actually maneuver better than the F-22.
Lt. Col. David "Chip" Berke, the only US Marine to fly both the F-22 and the F-35, previously told Business Insider that when flying the F-22, "my objective wouldn't be to get in a turning fight" with an adversary. Instead, Berke said he would use the F-22's natural advantages of stealth to avoid the dogfight.
But just because Russia's Su-35 can turn better and has more missiles doesn't mean it would automatically win a dogfight that broke out from an interception. The capabilities of the F-22 and of its pilots, who stand among the Air Force's best, would surely give it a chance in such a fight.
But because of the F-22's internal weapons stores and reliance on stealth, Justin Bronk, an expert on combat airpower at the Royal United Services Institute, previously told Business Insider that fifth-generation fighters like the F-22 and the F-35 were "not really necessary" for interceptions and that "other, cheaper interceptors can do the job."
The real risk
Russian Defense Ministry
The prospect of dogfighting with advanced Russian fighters over Syria has only gotten less likely as both Russia and the US look to pull out of the country after the military defeat of the terrorist group ISIS.
In reality, conflicts in the airspace above Syria between US and Russian jets are handled all the time, but not with jets. The US and Russia maintain a deconfliction line and call each other constantly to alert the other side to inbound jets.
But the rules of engagement, as they stand, put the US's top fighter jet at a distinct disadvantage if the worst happened and a dogfight broke out between the world's top military powers over Syria.
More from Business Insider:
- Kushner and Priebus reportedly had an intervention with Trump on Russian hacking before the inauguration
- Trump reportedly made his staff brief him for Merkel’s visit while he was in the bathroom
- UN makes rare call to Putin to show ‘courage’ and push Syria’s government to new elections
- Air Force says Russia made up an incident over Syria between an F-22 and an Su-35
- The White House is preparing for the possibility of North Korea collapsing on its own
Navy Secretary Richard Spencer took the reins at the Pentagon on Monday, becoming the third acting defense secretary since January.
Spencer is expected to temporarily lead the Pentagon while the Senate considers Army Secretary Mark Esper's nomination to succeed James Mattis as defense secretary. The Senate officially received Esper's nomination on Monday.
U.S. Special Operations Command may be on the verge of making the dream of flying infantry soldiers a reality, but the French may very well beat them to it.
On Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron shared an unusual video showing a man on a flying platform — widely characterized as a "hoverboard" — maneuvering through the skies above the Bastille Day celebrations in Paris armed with what appears to be a dummy firearm.
The video was accompanied with a simple message of "Fier de notre armée, moderne et innovante," which translates to "proud of our army, modern and innovative," suggesting that the French Armed Forces may be eyeing the unusual vehicle for potential military applications.
A lawmaker wants to know if the Pentagon ever exposed the American public to ticks infected with bioweapons
If you've ever wondered if the Pentagon has ever exposed the American public to ticks infected with biological weapons, you're not alone.
Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.) authored an amendment to the House version of the Fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act would require the Defense Department Inspector General's Office to find out if the U.S. military experimented with using ticks and other insects as biological weapons between 1950 and 1975.
If such experiments took place, the amendment would require the inspector general's office to tell lawmakers if any of the ticks or other bugs "were released outside of any laboratory by accident or experiment design."
The Taliban drove his family out of Afghanistan when he was a child. Now he wants to go back as a Marine
There's no one path to military service. For some, it's a lifelong goal, for others, it's a choice made in an instant.
For 27-year-old Marine Pvt. Atiqullah Assadi, who graduated from Marine Corps bootcamp on July 12, the decision to enlist was the culmination of a journey that began when he and his family were forced to flee their home in Afghanistan.
The Air Force has administratively separated the Nellis Air Force Base sergeant who was investigated for making racist comments about her subordinates in a video that went viral last year, Task & Purpose has learned.