Since Eurofighter Typhoons defeated F-22s at Red Flag Alaska in June 2012, discussion has produced many claims. I will address some of them here:
1) WVR combat is only small spectrum of air combat.
Yes, and no – it mainly depends on numbers, and who you are shooting at. As enemy numbers, as well as quality of each pilot and aircraft, increase relative to BVR-oriented force, effectiveness of BVR missiles drops – while qualitatively and quantitatively superior air force might achieve per-missile probability of kill as high as 50% for BVR missiles (against non-maneuvering enemies with no jammers), BVR missiles have never achieved more than 10% per-missile Pk against force that has been comparable in all stated factors – and it must be kept in mind that BVR-oriented aircraft are always more complex (and thus both more expensive, and flying less often) than WVR-oriented ones.
In short, BVR combat is excellent when facing enemies you don’t need it against, but doesn’t work when needed most.
2) German Typhoons had helmet-mounted sights and this allowed them to dominate more maneuverable F-22
Incorrect. Exercise was held in June 2012, and only from July on did German Typhoons start getting HMD. As such, Typhoons at Red Flag had to point their nose at the F-22s to get a lock.
That can easily be confirmed by comparing helmets of Typhoon pilots at exercise:
with HMD one:
which can be seen to be less round.
3) Typhoon’s IRST can detect F-22 from 50 kilometers
While that claim might not be incorrect – and indeed most likely isn’t – it has no relation to exercise itself, as Luftwaffe Typhoons had no IRST.
(Photo is of Typhoon from exercise, same one which “bagged” three F-22 “kills”).
4) Typhoons were slicked-off
While Typhoons did not carry any missiles or tanks in exercise, Typhoon does have a number of hard points that are permanently attacked to an airframe. In any case, heaviest – BVR – missiles would be ejected, and even some WVR missiles expended, well before Typhoons got in the merge. Neither F-22 or Typhoon had missiles.
Grune’s exact words are:
“We pulled off all the tanks to get most Alpha on it (Typhoon), and it is an animal with no tanks”.
5) F-22s were performance-limited
One of claims I have found was that F-22’s maneuver envelope has been limited due to oxygen problems. However, performance limitations to F-22 have only been enforced some time after the exercise, and pilots also had their oxygen vests, which have only been removed a week after exercise itself.
6) F-22s BVR capabilities were “overwhelming”
That claim, while not incorrect, was not about Typhoon vs F-22 exercise, but was a comment on earlier exercises where F-22s and Typhoons worked together against agressor F-16s simulating threat aircraft – most likely Cold War era Su-27 and MiG-29, as USAF has no reliable data on newest Russian types. As such, effectiveness of simulated BVR missiles in such exercises is far overstated even beyond unrealistic Pk assigned (Pk in question is around 90%, as Typhoons in that exercise got 16 kills from 18 simulated missile shots).
7) Typhoon was unable to get within 20 miles of F-22 without being targeted
That claim is result of Grumbercht’s quote that has been taken out of context:
“If I get everything right BVR, I’m not going to get closer than 20 miles.”
That quote seems to be referring to the Red Flag exercises, and not earlier Typhoon/F-22 WVR dogfight, and should probably be interpreted as “I’m not going to have to get closer than 20 miles”.
EDIT 7. 4. 2013.
This is excerpt from Jane Defense Weekly, found on Internet:
TYPHOON ‘HOLDS ITS OWN’ AGAINST RAPTOR
Immediately before Red Flag JG74 took part in Exercise ‘Distant Frontier’, which included eight one-on-one basic flying manoeuvre (BFM) sorties against US Air Force F-22A Raptor air superiority fighters. The aim was to help pilots of both types gain a fuller understanding of the capabilities, strengths and weaknesses of each other’s aircraft in order to allow them to operate together more effectively during Red Flag (where both types were assigned to the ‘Blue’ force) and during any subsequent ‘real world’ coalition operations.
During the process the pilots of JG74 gained a real boost to their confidence, said Col Grüne. “There were two mornings where we flew against them 1v1. We pulled off all the tanks to get the most alpha [angle of attack]; the Eurofighter really is an animal with no tanks.
“We expected to perform less with the Eurofighter but we didn’t … they were as impressed by us as we were impressed by them.”
Col Pfeiffer went into a little more detail. “In the dogfight the Eurofighter is at least as capable as the F-22, with some advantages in some aspects,” he said. “This is without the helmet. The Raptor’s unique capabilities are overwhelming, but as soon as you get to the merge, which is [admittedly] only a very small spectrum of air combat, the Typhoon doesn’t necessarily have to fear the F-22 in all aspects. We gain energy better than the F-22 when we are slow, for example.”
Red Flag demonstrated that the Typhoon had other advantages – being able to stay on station longer than the F-22, for example – but could not compete with the Raptor’s dominance in the beyond-visual-range (BVR) arena.
Both sides were coy about the relative kill:loss ratio gained during the Typhoon/F-22 BFM sorties, but Col Grüne was upbeat. “The only thing I can say is that I agreed to put out some whisky if they came back with some good performances … and I paid for quite a lot of whisky,” he said.