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How An Old F-16 ‘Killed’ a Stealth F-22 Raptor in a Dogfight

F-22 Shot Down
An F-22 Raptor from Langely Air Force Base, V.a. flies by after receiving fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker from McConnell Air Force Base, Kans., July 27, 2016 during exercise Red Flag, hosted by Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Red Flag 16-3 is aimed at teaching service members how to integrate air, space and cyberspace elements. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. David Salanitri)

The much-vaunted F-22 Raptor—a single-seat, twin-engine, all-weather stealth tactical aircraft—long has been considered to be one of the most formidable fighter jets the world has ever seen.

According to EurAsian Times, this fighter “combines a revolutionary leap in technology and capability with reduced support requirements and maintenance costs. … The aircraft’s super-cruise, along with its stealth, integrated avionics, and maneuverability gives its pilots a ‘first-look, first-shot, first-kill’ ability against enemy aircraft.”

The jet “not only has an inherent precision ground-attack capability but can also carry existing and planned short and medium-range air-to-air missiles in its internal bays. The F-22 also comes with an internal twenty-mm cannon and provisions for carrying precision ground attack weapons.”

More Vulnerable Than Believed

The Raptor surely sounds invincible, but according to defense writer David Axe at WIRED, it was way back in 2006 when “F-22s from the 27th Fighter Squadron shot down one hundred forty-four ‘enemy’ F-15s and F/A-18s in mock dogfights. Still flush from that victory, the 27th headed to Okinawa in February and its sister 94th Fighter Squadron simultaneously deployed to Nellis Air force Base, Nevada, for the new stealth jets’ first Red Flag exercise. While the 27th was sweeping the skies clear of Air Force F-15s and 1960s-era Japanese F-4s, the 94th ran headlong into the F-16s of the 64th Aggressor Squadron and suffered its first simulated shoot-down.”

The magazine AirForces Monthly added more details: “The 57th Adversary Tactics Group undertook some interesting tactics not contained in the overall (scripted) intelligence scenario. These involved surprise threats, generally Red Air (enemy) fighters, entering the air battle unexpectedly. White Force (exercise control) staff would confirm that the threat was Red and Blue Air (the ‘good guys’) had to react. The tactic worked. An F-16C pilot assigned to the 64th Aggressor Squadron gained the first-ever F-22 kill in Red Flag.”

Per the magazine, Lt. Col. Dirk Smith was quoted as saying that “at least half of the 94th FS crews had less than fifty hours in the F-22 and no matter how magical the F-22, any pilot can make a mistake. The beauty of Red Flag is that we were able to go out and practice our tactics in a challenging scenario, make a mistake, learn a lesson, and be that much better prepared for actual combat.”

‘Killed’ By Rafale

Do take note that just a couple of years later, the F-22 Raptor was again shot downthis time by the inferior fourth-generation French fighter jet Dassault’s Rafale.

“While remarkable in its own stead, in comparison to the Raptor, this French warplane doesn’t appear to be as impressive. It is a versatile ‘omnirole’ fighter that can perform all kinds of missions and carry a very wide variety of weapons,” wrote the EurAsian Times.

“However, it can only reach a speed of 2 Mach, slower than the Raptor’s top speed of 2.25 Mach. The F-22’s rate of climb, maneuverability as well as avionics outpace those of the French jet,” it continued.

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.

Written By

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV.



  1. Corwin of amber

    November 21, 2021 at 7:50 am

    By far the most uneducated article ever. A kill ratio of roughly 420-1 does no show an aircrafts vulnerability. People who have no idea what they are talking about should be journalists. Then again, I guess that’s the definition of “journalist”.

  2. kourosh daryaei

    November 22, 2021 at 12:34 am

    dog fight is an 1930’s missershmit illegal war crime strategy capability note supersonic solution on tracking fire and forget red dot of f22-raptor , how it invovled in engage is intel-protection leak in pilot ss , but nothing possible to do here

  3. Steve

    November 22, 2021 at 2:17 am

    Agreed. Plus the journalist should have done further research. In French publications the Rafale pilots admitted that they never got a kill. You can find a video of a Rafale pilot saying Fox, meaning missile shot, but he never said splash, meaning kill. There’s also a video of a USAF F-22 pilot who returned from those exercises at Al Dhafra, and he said that the F-22 came out undefeated. I don’t like it when journalists do sloppy work, such as in the case here.

  4. Aj

    November 22, 2021 at 5:42 am

    Jets don’t beat other jets in dog fights. Pilots defeat other pilots in dogfights. More typical fake drama bullschit from a pathetic excuse of a journalist. No, single engine trash f16s from yesteryear don’t outdo F-22s.

  5. Bobby gentle

    November 22, 2021 at 5:44 am

    F22 could follow F117 footsteps…

  6. faizal

    November 22, 2021 at 8:10 am

    agree…journalist doesnt know what they r writing…its just for highlight only…F22 raptor is still the best fighter top on list…wonder if i can own 1 lol

  7. Michael DeAngelo

    November 22, 2021 at 8:59 am

    It is pointless to wargame the situation where everything goes to plan and the F-22 defeats the 4th gen fighter BVR. Real training happens when you assume that three or four things went wrong up to this point, then see what happens.

    Today the really interesting battle is F-35 vs F-22. The F-22 has better stealth and better raw air-to-air capability. The F-35 has newer, better sensors and better integration of those sensors for pilot awareness.

  8. Jerome Barry

    November 22, 2021 at 8:48 pm

    Training, training, training. That, and Red Flag.

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