USAF F-16 Pilot Wants To Fly F-35 Instead of F-22 In War Against Russia or China

USAF F-16 Pilot Wants To Fly F-35 Instead of F-22 In War Against Russia or China
An F-22 Raptor from the 325th Fighter Wing flies alongside an F-35 Lightning II from the 33rd Fighter Wing over the Emerald Coast. (U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt Savanah Bray)

Many people think that F-22 would easily crush an F-35. F-22 is credited with better stealth and maneuverability, but it makes people jump to conclusions that F-22 is definitively better than the F-35 in all war situations. In reality that may not be the case.

An interesting question was asked to Rick Scheff, USAF F -16 pilot on Quora would you rather be the pilot of an F-22 or F-35?

According to Scheff, the answer is F-35, no doubt.

The Raptor is about as cool as it gets, and it is the greatest air superiority fighter the world has ever seen, but like the F-15C that it was originally designed to replace it is an airplane without a real mission in modern conflict. When was the last time an American fighter killed another fighter in an air-to-air engagement? Go look it up, I’ll wait.

It is cool to think about WWII/Korea/Vietnam and the great dogfights of history and believe me I wish I had been flying then, but that just isn’t the modern battlefield. None of America’s conflicts feature pitched battles against technologically modern opponents. Even if somehow a real war against a modern opponent kicked off, the days of within visual range fighting would be over. There is a place for visual identification and actual fighter maneuvering right now, but in a no-kidding war against Russia or China, there wouldn’t be. We would be killing them from as far away as we possibly could. With that in mind, the F-35′s sensor fusion and ability to carry ordinance externally is more valuable than the F-22’s ability to turn corners in style.

Additionally, the real role of modern fighters involves an air-to-ground component. CAS (Close Air Support) and SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses), and the old-fashioned dropping of bombs are the real reasons to have modern fighter jets. The ability to fight in and fight out (multirole) is an added bonus, but at the end of the day wars are won by killing people on the ground and breaking their stuff, so you want fighters that can A- kill people and break their stuff, and 2- make it safe for bombers and attack jets/helicopters to kill people and break their stuff.

The Raptor has some limited ability to do this, but the F-35 was designed to do this. In the same way, the Viper is fundamentally superior to the F-15C, and the F-35 is fundamentally superior to the F-22. Multirole aircraft are designed with the mission in mind. Air to Air airplanes is designed to fight a war that we don’t fight and mostly function as high-speed cheerleaders.

At some point the question of which you’d rather fly boils down to this: would you rather be the world’s most badass high-speed cheerleader, or would you rather do the job? The F-35 does the job.

As an aside though if you were smart there’s an airplane you’d rather fly than either of the 5th gens. It has the same multi-role capabilities as the F-35, but it’s proven effective and at work right now. It’s also far more beautiful, more fun to fly, more capable kinematically and thanks to the aforementioned sensor fusion able to piggyback on AWACS and other US assets to engage the same kinds of targets at the same kinds of ranges as the F-35. It also has the distinction of being the last great dogfighter and the most beautiful fighter of all time.

Related Article: Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor vs Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II – Head to Head Comparison

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