Attrition: Second F-22 Shot Down

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July 13, 2007: With several dozen F-22s now in service, the aircraft is being exposed to a lot of practice air-to-air combat. So far, the kill ratio is about a hundred to one in favor of the F-22. The new fighter has been "shot down" in these exercises twice. Once by a U.S. Navy F-18F, and once by an F-16C piloted by a member of the U.S. Air Force 64th Aggressor Squadron (pilots trained to operate like those from various foreign countries.)

There have also been some secret exercises where the air force tries out tactics they believe potential enemies could be developing to defeat F-22s. Although the F-22 is a superior aircraft, probably the best fighter on the planet, and the best pilots tend to get assigned to fly them, air force commanders around the world realize that there is no such thing as an invincible aircraft. The United States learned this the hard way in the 1960s, when superior U.S. fighters, flown by experienced pilots, took unexpectedly heavy casualties from Russian, Chinese and North Vietnamese pilots flying what were, on paper, inferior aircraft. But the enemy initially sized up the situation more realistically and shrewdly than did their American opponents. By the end of the '60s, the U.S. had adapted, and once more ruled the skies. But it was a lesson American fighter pilots have never forgotten, despite the tendency for warriors at the top of the heap to believe they have a right to be where they are.

American intelligence has already detected efforts by the Russians and Chinese to come up with special equipment and tactics to erode the F-22s aerial superiority. So the air force tries to reproduce some of those new ploys, in training exercises, and look for ways to maintain the F-22s superiority. The air force is basing two squadrons in Alaska, so that it can quickly be shifted to hot spots in the Pacific.

 


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