When are these guys gonna stop? I mean, when you see a headline like this:

Air Force: Hornet couldn’t kill Raptor

The article touts the Raptor’s perfect record:

The F-22’s debut combat exercise was at Northern Edge in June 2006. According to Air Force data, the dozen F-22s in attendance racked up an unprecedented kill record of 144-0 the first week alone and suffered no losses overall.

But one did get “shot down.”

When one aggressor went down, it was able to fly out and regenerate so quickly that an F-22 pilot thought the enemy was still “dead,” and got shot down himself for the mistake.


One thing is for sure: The plane that took down the Raptor was an F-15 or F-16, but not an F/A-18F. When asked whether a Superbug might have claimed a kill, one Air Force public affairs officer scoffed, “Not bloody likely.”

I guess the Raptor must be better; after all, the Air Force said so…


  1. Joel says:

    Well, I HAD full confidence in the USAF's ability to defeat our enemies primarily because they still maintained focus on the man in the cockpit and not the machine flying.

    It seems that, following Robin Olds' retirement, the USAF went back to the same train of thought that got them into trouble in Vietnam.

    When will these morons ever learn? This is the same two-dimensional, by-the-book thinking that led them to say, "oh, you'll never need a gun on a plane because missiles mean the day of dogfighting is over with."

    As Robin Olds (or was it "Duke" Cunningham?) said, "too bad the USAF never told the North Vietnamese this."

    What pure idiocy. No matter how many men have to die for leadership's mistakes, they get CRS and cause men to die for the exact same reasons in the next war.

  2. DaveO says:

    But can the Raptor land on a golf course – without knocking the ball of its tee… THAT makes it a true air superiority aircraft!

  3. John says:

    plus it's all stealthy and stuff!

  4. Pinch says:

    Raptor. Shmaptor. Ptuey. If'n I were the bad guy I'd stage a sneak attack on something just over the International Date Line. When the Raptors shwo up, they'd be all confoosed, thinking it was yesterday or tomorrow, their computers all fouled up. A Cessna could take 'em out!

  5. curtis says:

    They fixed that minor bug. As far as tactics goes, the superior plane gives the superior pilot the superior capability. The F-22 can do it all better, and it rocks out with a 20mm vulcan. With vectored thrust, low RCS, and reduced Infrared signature, the raptor can knife fight with the best of them. Its aerodynamics are significantly improved over its opponents, (no weapons hanging on the wings after all) and its supercruise will allow it to close on with foes without lighting up the afterburners. No giant Infrared sig, more fuel left in the tanks for the fight.

    As long as the crews are still trained right, (And they will be, can't let the navy out sexy us with their topgun school) the pilots will still come out in tiptop shape.

    The only thing going against the F-22 is, as always, that rediculous price tag.

  6. Nicholas says:

    I have a feeling the F-22 price tag is going to look reasonable compared to the F-35, when we actually know what it is, unfortunately. Especially if the number to be procured drops, as it always does.

    To be clear: I expect the F-35 will be cheaper, but not by much, and aside from its larger A-G weapon carrying capacity it doesn't have much advantage.

    I think the money could have been better spent coming up with a way to increase the F-22's internal carriage capacity, at least enough for it to carry two 2000lb JDAMs/LGBs as well as four AA missiles, or two smaller bombs and two HARMs.

    Maybe that isn't possible, but if it is, it could have been money well spent. Or, what about building stealthy pods to hang under the wings to house bombs, which can be either kept or discarded after they are dropped?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Who really cares? It was a training sortie. Guys are really running around trying to take credit for "shoot down" in training. YGTBSM.

    FWIW, from another site:

    "This ONE infamous gun shot on a Raptor has been covered before. First off it ought to tell you something about this airplane that ONE fleeting snap shot is taken of this airplane and so many people have to make a big deal about it. Why is that? Might ask yourself that question. Might be that the airplane is so good, and so dominant, and some people are so tired of hearing of and having to deal with that, that they'll latch on to anything just to take one cheap shot at it. I'm of the opinion we'd all be happy the jets on our side and its so lethal there AREN'T (m)any other shots on it. But once again and I think for the last time, I'll provide as Paul Harvey says, "the rest of the story". It was a 1 vs. 1 BFM canned setup. A pilot broke the ROE, in war there isn't any, partly true – we have ROE, this is really a training rules discussion (proper terms are mixed up but not important here), but our ROE (or TR's) are written in blood because many pilots have died making mistakes that we then crafted rules of engagement from to keep us from killing each other for real in training. The ROE still allows us to push to the limits as far as possible and mimic realistic combat conditions as close as possible so we're as prepared for combat as we can be without making those written in blood mistakes. We're trained from day one to "knock it off" when we find ourselves exceeding those ROE so we don't die for real or lose a jet. A good friend of mine was within about a millisecond of dying in a mid-air collision just a month ago here in Alaska – it's a real threat. The Hornet driver should have just knocked it off, normally that's exactly what happens. But a key is we always thouroughly debrief ourselves so we aren't let off the hook when we screw up. It only makes us better in the long run. The Raptor pilot "backed" off on the pull because of the 1000 foot bubble ROE, otherwise he could have kept pulling too and you'd have had a 100 foot pass or a collision with both jets pointing right at each other. So the Hornet driver probably got his fangs out a bit too far and got the shot but the lesson or gun footage isn't worthwhile because the opposing pilot followed the rules in this pass. If the Raptor pilot would have not followed those rules this gun camera shot wouldn't exists because they'd both been sucking up seat cushion hoping they didn't trade paint during the pass. The problem with these "high aspect" passes is that it is extremely difficult to judge line of sight, closure and aspect angle until it's almost too late, usually you're seeing anwhere from 300 to 400 knots (slow end) up to 1200 knots of closure during these passes, it happens very fast and you literally have seconds (or less) to react and avoid hitting each other. THAT's where the ROE comes from and why it's so important, far too many pilots are no longer with us today, and countless more airplanes, mostly because pilots got their fangs out too far and they pushed too hard and lost. We have to assume that in war, in that one in a million chance your in the phone booth with an adversary, and it comes down to BFM and gun shots, that your instincts take over and you can make that snap judgement to go further than you did in training because it IS life or death and that's when ROE doesn't matter because you'll die for sure if you back off – but in peacetime we can't afford to make those mistakes. Even then, most of the time I've found I wouldn't want to press much further than the ROE anyhow, especially with a gun shot, you get too close, you'll probably be in your parachute too because you actually hit each other or you frag yourself by flying through the parts & pieces of the airplane you just shot (jet engines don't like pieces of metal very much).

    Lessons learned are only valid if the parameters which surround them would be valid in war, in this case they weren't because both pilots were applying the rules differently which skewed teh results. Probably different in war because if the Raptor pilot thought he was about to die he'd be pointing right back at the Hornet shooting too. And here's my interservice jab, with our nose pointing capability, he'd probably be shooting first!"

    "We've always had a 1,000' bubble with the Raptor, I helped decide on and write those rules we "invented" when we started flying the very first operational sorties during our initial training at Edwards preparing for the operational test in 2003. If you've never flown with or against it you probably haven't heard that caveat, if you have and didn't hear that caveat for the F-22 it was somehow overlooked. Every other USAF platform has the same 500' bubble the Navy has and we've all had for the 17 years I've been flying jets. The 1,000 foot bubble is specific to this jet only.

    My last 2 cents on this gun footage. Too many pilots either aren't around anymore or are "barely" with us after mid air's & other accidents. It's simple since he's still pulling lead, 1.8g at 800 feet with the whisky symbol & gun cross out front and 210 knots Vc – do the math – he'll fly inside the 500' bubble, not just the 1,000' bubble he was briefed on. Even at slower airspeeds it's not a good idea and there's no room for error on the part of a analog human brain. I bet it wasn't "intentional", it usually isn't, just guys doing their best to win, it's how we're trained and the attitude you want, but here's my take;

    The closest I've been to dying in a fighter (F-15C days) was as as a brand new weapons officer (captain) and a more senior pilot I was putting through instructor upgrade lost his mind on his high aspect BFM sortie, continued pulling lead even inside 500', (didn't look that different from this Hornet HUD shot), for about the last 1.5 to 2 seconds when I realized he wasn't going to back off and I knew there was nothing I could do I simply held my breath waiting for the impact, he passed inside a jet length from hitting me. I knocked it off, made him take us home and promptly busted him on the sortie and made him debrief the squadron by showing the tapes (he was pretty shaky after the pass too once he realized what he'd done). In his mind he HAD to get the shot, it was fangs out and the pressure was on to fly his best jet with the new WIC grad. (Happened to me again a few months later on a ACM sortie, apparently the target arm actually means you're a target). This Hornet gun footage was an example of what we try not to do, sometimes it happens, it's really just that simple. However, I do wish they wouldn't have posted that shot, it would have made life simpler…. This isn't a Navy vs. USAF thing, we try to do the right thing no matter who you are because in the end we're flying on the same side when we get to the war (even though the Navy & Marines still gets the better movies, I'm bitter…). In the big scheme of things this is a non-event, pilots make mistakes (usually with good intent) all the time, we learn and move on. We'll make mistakes, jets will get shot in training, hopefully we'll learn the lesson so we don't make those mistakes in war where it counts. Done."

  8. Christoph says:

    I believe the F-22 is as good as they say it is and the F/A-18F as outclassed.


    Mass production of advanced Chinese UAVs is what concerns me, particularly when human G-force tolerances are exceeded.

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