Cleaning up Red Flag Alaska F-22 vs Typhoon debate (2)

Author claims quite a few false things in the article linked above. I’ll counter them one by one.

  1. Exercises were 1 on 1 WVR BFM sorties. There was no need for AWACS or AIM-120D, and F-22 had to use radar to try and achieve a lock on Typhoon.
  2. Thrust vectoring is effective at speeds below 150 knots and above Mach 1. In entire envelope between these two speeds, TVC-equipped aircraft is no more agile than non-TVC one – and it is precisely there that 90% of air engagements happen.
  3. Neither aircraft did or could have used decoys, chaff or flares to “spoof” the missiles as these were completely simulated. Same goes for MAWS.
  4. At least some F-22s did use TVC in attempts to get nose on Typhoons and, thus, a simulated missile shots; this left them lacking in energy and thus vulnerable to Typhoons.
  5. Single engagements are most representative of individual qualities of the aircraft; as number of aircraft on both sides increases, coordination and quality thereof becomes more and more important.
  6. F-22 is inferior to Typhoon in medium- to high- -subsonic and transsonic agility, situational awareness (no IRST), cost, sortie rate, maintenance demands and gun quality.
  7. Typhoon’s pilots comments were referring to the training exercises where both Typhoon and F-22 were on the blue force, and while it is true that F-22 is peerless at BVR, unrealistic missile Pk and numerical difference assumptions call value of that superiority in question
  8. Air combat between peer opponents has historically been fought at visual range, and proliferation of advanced jammers, along with anti-radiation missiles, and long-range IR missiles coupled with cueing by launch platform, make it tactically prudent to remain completely passive
  9. Meteor BVR missile about to be used by Typhoon is shorter-ranged but offers far greater no-escape zone than AIM-120D, thus making it more effective – wether it will turn around dismal performance of BVR missiles remains to be seen.
  10. F-22 cannot escape detection, as it has to radiate in order to penetrate jamming; and even LPI radars can be detected by advanced RWRs at far longer distance than they themselves can detect target. Typhoon’s PIRATE IRST can detect subsonic fighters from 90 km head-on
  11. BVR missiles, when used against targets that were similar in numbers and capability to launch platforms, never went above Pk of 10%. It is not prudent to assume that it will change.
  12. F-22 weights 24 579 kg with 50% fuel, 2 Sidewinder and 4 AMRAAM, and has 31 751 kgf of thrust on afterburner, giving it TWR of 1,29. In same configuration, Typhoon weights 14 427 kg and has 18 144 kgf of thrust on afterburner, giving it TWR of 1,26. Thus, while F-22 has TWR advantage, it is not as large as author claims, and is not enough to offset its disadvantage in wing loading. Nor will thrust vectoring help it evade missiles, for energy loss is too great and leaves it vulnerable to further attacks even if first missile is evaded.
  13. While F-22 has reduced temperture of exhaust – a very useful thing – it did come at cost of performance, and it did nothing to adress the IR signature of aircraft as a whole.
  14. While weapons advance over time, so do countermeasures, and new weapons and technologies very quickly cease to give a noticeable advantage. As such, visual-range dogfights being thing of the past is not a reliable assumption.
  15. In visual range, F-22 provides neither numerical nor qualitative performance required for securing a victory, or coming close to securing it. F-35, on the other hand, is a sitting duck in a visual range fight, leaving F-22s to fend for themselves once F-16s and F-15s numbers are reduced sufficiently.
  16. F-22 is 19 meters long, has a wing span of 13,4 meters and weights almost 20 tons when empty. Closest-sized aircraft it may face one day, Su-35, is 22 meters long, has 15,3 meter-wingspan, but weights little less than 18,5 tons when empty. Versus Typhoon, a smaller aircraft with lower wing loading, F-22 is at disadvantage as it takes longer to transit from one maneuver to another, and cannot turn as tightly as Typhoon can. While F-22’s superior TWR will provide it with slight energy advantage as fight drags on, assuming it does not use thrust vectoring, Typhoon’s lower wing loading, smaller size and superior aerodynamics will make a victory for F-22 far from guaranteed even in a prolonged fight.
  17. BVR IFF system is yet to prove reliable, and F-22 has neither advanced IRST or optical suite that may make reliable BVR ID possible.
  18. PAK FA, with its wide lifting body, low drag, IRST, and thrust-to-weight ratio only slightly worse than F-22s, will prove a dangerous opponent to F-22, assuming these two aircraft ever go face-to-face – a highly unlikely scenario.

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29 replies

  1. Is that you Pierre Sprey?Lol…Remenber that all the things the reformers talk about have been proven wrong.What you state is just the same kind of wrong/incomplete information that APA/winslow wheeler…
    And acording to the USAF pilots theres more HUD footage of F-22s gun kills than Typhoon kills…and while the Typhoon has the best gun in the world brithish planes dont have the gun instaled…

    • 1. No, I’m not Pierre.

      2. Things that have been proven wrong… if you bothered to read rest of my blog, you’d have seen it is not so.

      3. I check all my information as much as possible.

      4. According to USAF pilots… that is, according to an “anonymous USAF source”, as opposed to two named Luftwaffe pilots. I know which source is more trustworthy…

      5. RAF Typhoons do have gun installed, as it was decided that not installing gun will not bring any cost benefits. I am not sure wether they have ammo for it, and wether pilots are trained to use it, but it is there.

  2. 1-Winslow wheeler ?
    2-All that the reformers talked about is proven wrong(the M-1 Abrams tank,the TOW missile;the F-15,ABM,etc )
    3-Check harder
    4-According to the USAF
    5-No THEY DONT according to the DID site(defense industry daily)

    • 1) Nope.
      2) Against forces that Abrams faced, Croatian T-72 would have been perfect. Instead, Abrams’ high fuel consumption allowed lot of Iraqi military to escape.
      3) I check harder than most.
      4) In this case, I trust Luftwaffe.
      5) Then they are behind times… five years behind.

  3. 1-Dina Rasor?
    2-AH AH(Nelson Muntz)-Thats what the reformers say…in the real world it was the ressuply trucks that didnt keep up…read your History books.No russian tank or derived tech could take several HEAT rounds from a 125mm soviet canon and keep fighting…your Croatian T-72 would suffer lots of losses
    3-even harder
    4-dont trust zie germans
    5-you are right ,Sir

  4. 1-Chuck Spinney?
    2-Whats the diference of airlifting JP-8 or Diesel fuel?Does 1000L of JP-8 weight more than 1000L of Diesel?You could say that it would take more trips but whats the diference?T-72 range 460km M-1-426km-not a big difference…
    3-Im not kidding,you should read something besides this reformer BS…
    5-It looks that way…go to their page and in comp.chart vs the gripen it states that the Brit.version does not have a canon…but i checked and you are right.

    • 1) No.
      2) Difference is between airlifting 1000 and 5000 tons of fuel.
      3) I did read quite a few “Reformer BS” but I also read a lot of USAF materials.
      4) So, why is USAF more trustworthy than Luftwaffe?
      5) Thanks. You should have been clearer first time… and regarding as of why it was installed, there were two reasons:
      1 – it was decided that not buying a gun would not bring many, if any, cost savings
      2 – it turned out that having a gun is still important. While it may not be important for air combat unless NATO decides to attack China/Russia (or vice-versa), gun is a must for Close Air Support.

  5. 1) Typhoons were slicked off as much as possible, and only won 4 out of 8 engagements. So it wasn’t utterly superior.

    2) Typhoon pilots have praised F-22’s agility as well. F-22 can also supercruise much faster than the Typhoon.

    3) Typhoon, while highly capable, only achieved parity with F-22 when slicked off as much as possible. In such a configuration, it has less range and carry fewer weapons.

    • Check here before spewing BS:

      In short:
      1) Typhoons were not “slicked off”, they only had their tanks removed.
      2) F-22 can do air show tricks, but in terms of agility in combat envelope, it is inferior to Typhoon.
      3) Wrong. Typhoons got 4 kills in 8 engagements, and since USAF never published any official statements by named pilots, videos or kill markings, it can be assumed that remaining 4 engagements were draw.

      • 1) Only? How do you know if they carried air to air missiles? Or is that just your assumption.

        2) Oh, so from this one Red Flag you make that claim. Do you have actual performance diagrams? What about this?

        3) You mean, you assumed that the remaining ones were draw to suit your views. And the USAF pilots’ account that they acquired numerous gunshots on the Typhoon were irrelevant?

      • 1) They have a number of missile rails typically attached under the wings.
        2) Wing loading, TWR, aerodynamics and weight can be compared. As for your link, it is irrelevant as it is for BVR combat whereas we are discussing dogfight.
        3) And unnamed Luftwaffe pilot stated that Typhoons were superior dogfighters. So “numerous” couldn’t have been more than 2 or 3. Point is, there is no proof for either of these statements.

      • 1) You mean the conformal BVRAAM stations? In interceptor configuration the Typhoon would normally only have 2 pylons for WVR missiles.
        2) “In a similar vain to its supersonic performance, the sustained and instantaneous subsonic turn rates of the Eurofighter are bettered only by the F-22. Only the Rafale comes close to the matching the Eurofighter’s capabilities in these comparisons.” That’s straight from the website.
        3) There’s no proof that either the Typhoon or Raptor are decisively superior to each other in WVR, given the conflicting accounts, as even some statements from the Luftwaffe. And you are willing to discount USAF pilot accounts? Now that’s some serious cherrypicking.

      • 1) Two pylons, yes.
        2) Only problem with the website is that Rafale has better instantaneous turn rate than either F-22 or Typhoon, and its sustained turn rate is equal to that of the F-22. Typhoon has similar sustained turn rate to the F-22 and slightly better instantaneous turn rate.
        3) There is no cherrypicking. You have one unnamed Luftwaffe, one unnamed USAF pilot and two named Luftwaffe pilots. Unnamed Luftwaffe and USAF pilots both give impression of serious superiority for their own platforms, but of two named accounts, one implies parity, and one clearly states that Typhoon is somewhat better than the F-22 in dogfight, though not overwhelmingly so. Aerodynamic analysis clearly shows that Typhoon would be a better dogfighter than the F-22, though not overwhelmingly so. So what do you think I should choose?

      • Aerodynamic analysis clearly shows? What analysis? You have access to performance charts of both the Typhoon and the F-22? Bring forth solid evidence and data instead of accounts from pilots before making such a decisive statement.

      • Lower wing loading + less drag + lower weight = superior performance. Is it that hard to understand?

      • Uh, it’s thrust – drag, and SEP that matters. Not to mention body lift from chines that complicates wing loading calculations. Not to mention that engine performance varies with speed and altitude. Do you have access to this kind of info? If not, then your analysis of wing loading is laughably simplistic.

        • You know which aircraft have large amount of body lift? F-16, Rafale, Gripen. F-22 has some but it is nowhere as much, and Typhoon has even less. But Typhoon drags less relative to size due to not having thrust vectoring and weapons bays, as well as not being designed for radar “stealth”.

      • What’s your evidence for “nowhere near as much”? I don’t know the numbers, so I can’t say for certain. Can you?

        The Typhoon drags less relative to size? What? Like I said, can you produce some actual numbers like SEP and flight envelope? Sustained turn rates? Otherwise your speculation is unimpressive.

      • “What’s your evidence for “nowhere near as much”?”

        Take a look at shape of the upper body. Notice how much flatter it is compared to Rafale and the F-16?

        “The Typhoon drags less relative to size? What?”

        You know why most fighters don’t use stealth shaping and internal missile carriage? Aside from cost, it makes aircraft fatter and increases drag.

        Length-to-height ratio of both is cca 8, but for Typhoon it includes air intakes whereas F-22s air intakes are positioned on the side.

        Length to width ratio is cca 4 or 5 for the F-22 (depending on wether horizontal tails are included) and cca 6,5 or 7,5 for the Typhoon (depending on wether maximum or average body width is used).

        You can see that Typhoon’s frontal area is about 1/2 of the F-22s at most. Using averages from above, frontal area factor would be 0,028 for F-22 and 0,018 for Typhoon.

        As you can see, it is far from being speculation.

  6. I know what both sides of this debate want the most, The brag boards and I know some people that have it.

  7. This whole discussion is bullshit. Picard you seriously need to read a lot more about the topic. Wing loading, TWR, and weight are not the only determinants of aerodynamic performance, as you apparently claim. I seriously cannot believe you are evaluating radar cross section just by looking at the frontal aspect. The raptor’s RCS is 1cm^2, by 1995 numbers, so one can safely assume that has gone down considerably given enhancements to cockpit radar absorbency, reshaping of nose section etc. The Typhoon is not a stealth fighter in any capacity, with an RCS of about 1m^2 at best. These people might not be able to call you on your crap, but I am an engineer and happily will

    • “Picard you seriously need to read a lot more about the topic.”

      Topic being?

      “Wing loading, TWR, and weight are not the only determinants of aerodynamic performance”

      I’m well aware of that, but they cannot be ignored.

      “I seriously cannot believe you are evaluating radar cross section just by looking at the frontal aspect.”

      It is one that is most relevant for air combat. Radar will get detected by competent RWR, so if both sides turn towards each another, frontal RCS is one that is relevant.

      “These people might not be able to call you on your crap, but I am an engineer and happily will”

      You may or may not be an engineer, but problem for US military is that they have too many engineers and too few tacticians. Understanding how something is done (technical side) is useless if you don’t understand why it should or shouldn’t be done (tactical/strategic side). Today people spend too much time wondering “can something be done” while paying no attention to “should something be done”.

      Now I’m waiting for you to call me out.

  8. I was referring to statements implying the Typhoon was less visible to radar from the front. I’m sure you’ve read a fair about regarding AESA radars, and the Raptor’s radar suite changes frequency too rapidly to be isolated out from noise byTyphoon radar. With regards to drag, the Raptor is most likely less “draggy” as it is capable of supercruise at about Mach 1.7 (conservatively……) whereas the typhoon is apparently capable at Mach 1.2 . Given that the thrust to weight ratios are within 10 percent for the two aircraft, while the difference in supercruise speed is nearly 30%, one must assume the difference comes from less drag, (a rather vague term, I know) as no other aerodynamic force could account for this. I’m sorry if I worded my first post strongly. I can see you are knowledgable on the topic, and I think the discussion should be kept civil, as we’re all aviation enthusiasts after all.

    • “I was referring to statements implying the Typhoon was less visible to radar from the front.”

      It isn’t. In a real war, both aircraft will be invisible to radars because radars will be off. Even SAMs will give sporadic emissions (there the F-22s stealth may help, but it depends on wavelength of radar in question, distance to radar etc.). Assuming that radars are on, Typhoon will be far easier to detect than the F-22, no matter the aspect.

      “I’m sure you’ve read a fair about regarding AESA radars, and the Raptor’s radar suite changes frequency too rapidly to be isolated out from noise byTyphoon radar.”

      1) That depends on processing power, and radar warner has a square root advantage over the radar when it comes to detection range. Modern EW suites can also store detected signals and analyze them at leisure. Wether it can be used to detect an AESA radar depends, again, on processing power of both radar and RWR – but as a rule, if both radar and RWR have same processing power, RWR will detect radar long before aircraft using RWR is detected by radar in question. Add to this the fact that 99% of the radar signal does not get even reflected back (a familiy car has RCS of 100 m2), and you have a problem.
      2) APG-77s beam as a whole is about 1 million to 10 million times stronger than background noise. Even if each of 1.956 T/R modules can produce a beam of different frequency, every single beam will still be (on average) 500-5.000 times stronger than the background noise. Since beams are steered by interference from several T/R modules, radar can only create far smaller number of beams, each with its own frequency (IIRC, APG-77 can produce 4 independent beams). This in turn means that APG-77s signal will be 250.000 to 2,5 million times stronger than the background noise of the same frequency.
      3) Modern fighter radars are, in the West at least, limited in their frequency range to X band (8-12 GHz). Modern RWRs typically cover 2-18 GHz when up against modern CW radars (against old pulse radars, coverage can go as wide as 0,5-40 GHz), and coverage can be narrowed to speed up processing.
      4) Dedicated RWRs are typically used to detect opponent’s radar.

      “With regards to drag, the Raptor is most likely less “draggy” as it is capable of supercruise at about Mach 1.7 (conservatively……) whereas the typhoon is apparently capable at Mach 1.2 . Given that the thrust to weight ratios are within 10 percent for the two aircraft, while the difference in supercruise speed is nearly 30%, one must assume the difference comes from less drag,”

      Mach 1,72-1,75 and Mach 1,5, or 15-17%. Mach 1,2 for Typhoon includes supersonic fuel tanks. Rafale manages Mach 1,4 despite lower wing sweep and lower TWR compared to Typhoon.

      And drag in level flight is not the same as drag during maneuvering combat. Aircraft with high wing sweep and very clean aerodynamics will have very low drag during level flight… but high sweep increases drag during maneuvers, and some protruding high lift devices (such as close coupled canards) can improve drag during maneuvering flight. So it is always a tradeoff. Do you want an interceptor? Do you want a dogfighter? Will you compromise?

      You might want to read this:
      as I explained all the design choices I made (end product is quite similar to Rafale in aerodynamic terms, so it may help you understand Rafale as well). About Rafale specifically, there is an old article of mine:

  9. Picard

    Great blog. I didn’t see this article when I read the first part. One thing that particular stood out above, is this comment:

    16.F-22 is 19 meters long, has a wing span of 13,4 meters and weights almost 20 tons when empty. Closest-sized aircraft it may face one day, Su-35, is 22 meters long, has 15,3 meter-wingspan, but weights little less than 18,5 tons when empty.

    Apart from asking whether Su-35 (by which I mean the Canard plus thrust vectoring with the latest Russian electronic suite – ie not the Indian version) data is that clear (given only a handful of them exist), is it really likely that Russian materials technology and engineering is that much more advanced than the US that they can build a bigger aircraft at a lower weight ? Global security quotes c14,000kg empty weight for the F22.

    • It is not about materials but rather design. F-15 is actually larger than the F-22 in terms of length and wing span, yet it has an empty weight of 12.700 kg. F-16 and F-35 have similar length and wing span (15,06*9,96 vs 15,7*10,7 m), but the F-16C has an empty weight of 8.570 kg compared to 13.300 kg for the F-35A. Rafale C is 15,3 m long with 10,8 m wing span, yet it has an empty weight of 9.550 kg. Main reason is F-35s internal weapons carriage, and I assume that stealth coatings add quite a bit of weight as well.

      Comparing the F-22 with Su-35 is wrong because they are completely different designs. You can compare F-22 and PAK FA, but even so you have to keep in mind that PAK FA, while having slightly larger overall dimensions, also has thinner frontal profile.

      I don’t think F-22 is below 17.000 kg empty, and it may be as high as 22.000 kg empty, depending on how much weight it actually gained with all fixes. I have PAK FA’s empty weight written down as 18.000 kg, and keeping in mind what I wrote before, anything below 20.000 kg for the F-22 is not likely.

      • Picard thanks. I suppose then, you must argue the Su35 empty weight (and the T-50) is too low ? As your analysis of engines clearly demonstrates the Russian engines are much bigger, heavier and have a lower power to weight ratio (than EJ-200 with you giving the US engine best rating overall).

        Just looking at the Radars, they are larger and take up more space than in western designs (for probably poorer performance). I would very much doubt that Russian composites are better made or lighter than us/western equivalents. Russians also seem to design in more rough field capability, which again suggests a more robust design. The F-15/Su 35 comparison based on the data you quote seems to support my question as F15 appears to be around 5,000kg + lighter. It’s hard not to believe that a new build F15 design with current materials technology wouldn’t be lighter still than the original design.

        • T-50s empty weight probably is too low for a production variant (remember that YF-22 was lot lighter than current F-22, and T-50 is still in the prototype stage) but I do think that official weight of 17.500 kg empty for Su-35 (I checked it just now) is realistic. Going by just difference in dimensions between it and the F-15C, Su-35 would come in at 16.800 kg empty. Subtract some weight to account for more advanced materials, and add some for rough field capability and larger engines and radar, and it is not unreasonable.

          BTW, Su-35s engines are only 200 kg heavier than the F-15Cs (100 kg per engine).

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