China, Russia can’t top our fabulous F-22 fighters
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When US Air Force F-22 fighter jets retrieved a Chinese spy balloon and two other objects in February, China was taking note and spitting with envy.
As China knows, F-22s are much more than balloon-busters. The F-22 Raptor is the best fighter jet in the world. And obviously, China’s air forces could face the Raptor if they get aggressive around Taiwan or other allies.
The F-22 does what no other fighter jet can do. First, it is shaped for stealth, meaning enemy radars cannot track it well. Materials in the gray paint scheme also absorb radar. You can see that the F-22 carries air-to-air missiles inside the weapons bays, not under the wings, to preserve that stealth. The F-22 has a large, sophisticated radar in its nose that is used to track bad guy planes over long distances – or to find “objects” that are infiltrating US airspace. F-22s are less likely to intercept inflight datalinks, meaning their pilots can share screens and communicate without detection.
Perhaps the most effective secret techniques are in the engines. Built by Pratt & Whitney of Connecticut, the two powerful, F119 turbofan engines produce more thrust than any other military engine and feature a special technology called SuperCruise. With supercruise, the F-22 can pass Mach 1.5 and maintain supersonic flight without using afterburners.
F-22 equipped with more sophisticated attack technology
You know what an afterburner is, right? This is when military jet engines glow orange with heat as pilots increase speed. In the Top Gun movies you see light afterburners on Navy pilots when they launch from a carrier or chase MiG fighters. The F-22 is the only fighter in the world that can hit top speed without an afterburner. Remember, China.
The F-22 is also designed to fly well at high altitudes, and that’s why it was chosen to take out a Chinese spy balloon flying at 60,000 feet over South Carolina on February 4. Pulling along a balloon – even a large one – is tricky. As your car zooms down the highway, it’s hard to see a slow object well when you’re moving fast. However, the F-22 has superior flight controls that make it very stable at low speeds and aloft in very thin atmospheres. Designed as a dogfighter, the F-22’s engine thrust vectoring literally allows it to stand on its tail and turn with minimal effort. Faster dash speeds and sensors made it easier for the raptors to intercept “objects” flying at 40,000 feet over Alaska and Canada on Feb. 10-11.
However, the F-22’s primary function is to take out enemy fighters, air defenses, and anything else that needs to be hit with speed and precision.
I am happy to say that Russian fighter pilots are already intimidated by the F-22. The F-22 flew its first combat missions in 2014, bombing ISIS positions in Syria. Raptors have been deployed in the Middle East for years to keep Syrian and Russian fighters away from US and coalition aircraft. F-22 pilots found they could get close to Russian and Syrian fighter jets before those pilots ever knew the Raptors were there. is cute!
Naturally, Alaska-based F-22 pilots have long experience intercepting Russian bombers. (See images online.) The most recent intercept was February 17.
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For China, the F-22s are spring-loaded for rapid deployment to the Pacific. CIA Director William Burns says Xi Jinping has ordered China’s military to be ready to fight for Taiwan by 2027. If Xi Jinping prepares his warplanes to attack Taiwan, the F-22 can also attack Chinese warplanes.
Alas, I never flew in the F-22, as there are no two-seat versions. They let me sit in the cockpit of an F-22 in Hawaii, after I promised not to touch anything. When parked, the F-22 is fairly low-slung, resembling a Harley out of a biker roadhouse. But thin too.
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Raptor pilots know they are the best. “I think it’s the most effective aircraft we have in the inventory and probably always will be as an air-to-air fighter,” said F-22 instructor pilot Maj. Chelsea, “Contra,” Hampton Roads Channel 3. told WTKR. In an interview last year. She is one of four female pilots currently flying the F-22.
Sadly, the Lockheed Martin F-22 production line in Marietta, Georgia was shut down in early 2012 because President Barack Obama didn’t think China or Russia would ever be a threat. The production halt left the Air Force with only 187 F-22s, less than half of what they needed.
Still, the F-22 should remind Xi Jinping that his ambitious, overconfident military cannot top American technology and tactics.
Click here to read more from Rebecca Grant