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Can China Shoot Down the F-22 Raptor Stealth Fighter?

F-22 Raptor
F-22 Raptor. Image: Creative Commons.

The Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor is respected for its dogfighting ability as much as its air-to-air maneuverability attributes, especially when compared with any other potential rival. Solely operated by the United States Air Force, the Raptor was developed as part of the service’s Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) program two decades ago. The aircraft was developed as an air superiority fighter that could also be capable of ground attack, electronic warfare, and signals intelligence.

Powered by two Pratt & Whitney turbofan engines, it is capable of reaching speeds of Mach 2 (1,534 mph/2,469 kph). The F-22 has a ceiling of 50,000 feet (15 kilometers) and a range of 1,841 miles (2,962 km) without refueling.

While speedy, the F-22 can’t outrun a hypersonic missile of course – and there are now reports that China could be considering how to employ such technology to target America’s best combat aircraft. Last December, a Chinese scientist even made a bold (even dubious) claim that a “ground-to-air hypersonic missile could catch up and destroy an F-22 (Raptor) in seconds if it fired a missile or dropped a bomb from short range.”

Such missiles, equipped with “heat-seeking” capabilities, could home in on “practically any target with remarkable accuracy and speed.” Targets could include stealth aircraft, ships and even moving vehicles on the street, researchers claimed. While most military ground vehicles move at speeds no greater than 60 mph, and ships slowly trudge across the open water – both on what is essentially a flat plane for the most part – military aircraft are far faster and more importantly, maneuverable.

Seeking Heat

Chinese media also highlighted the fact that U.S. Air Force data showed that heat-seeking missiles accounted for 90 percent of all aircraft lost in the 1980s, yet, failed to address the fact that it was the United States that scored the lion’s share of those kills. All heat-seeking missiles can easily target an aircraft by pursuing the heat signature. Heat-seeking, also called infrared homing, is a passive missile guiding technique – where it detects and locks on to the target from the emitting electromagnetic radiation in the infrared section of the spectrum.

The key to the Chinese claim is that a hypersonic weapon would still need to be fired from a “small distance” and when the aircraft is relatively low to the ground. That would suggest that a high-flying F-22 at range would still have time to maneuver. The goal of the F-22 Raptor, and the newer Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning, is to evade an enemy’s air defenses and strike targets at distance. If the enemy doesn’t know the aircraft is there, it won’t fire a missile – hypersonic or otherwise.

Finally, today’s fifth-generation aircraft – including the F-22, which was designed as an air superiority fighter – can target an enemy from well-beyond visual range. A hypersonic heat-seeking missile is certainly a threat, but likely not nearly as much as the Chinese researchers would like to suggest.

Now a Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military hardware, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes.

Written By

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Suciu is also a contributing writer for Forbes Magazine.



  1. Ashli Babbitt deserved that bullet

    May 23, 2022 at 5:32 pm

    They don’t need too. There isn’t enough of them to be useful during an actual war and their far too slow to keep up with China’s Typhoonr/Su-47 knockoff people are calling a stealth fighter.

    • Daly215

      May 23, 2022 at 10:16 pm

      Ur dilusional, there are 187 f22’s, some of which are always being rotated for maintenance, however there Are always 92 ready and on stand by, 92 operational f22 raptors and that’s not enough to matter on war 😂😂😂 92 raptors is enough to decimate china’s air force! And if u want an example of the capabilities for an f22, when an Iranian fighter came close to a US base f22’s were sent to intercept, and f22 literally flew directly underneath the Iranian fighter to inspect it’s weapons loadout,”directly underneath” the Iranian pilot had no idea he was even there, after the f22 raptor checked the weapons loadout he radioed to the Iranian “it’s time for you to go home” lol could china’s knockoffs do that? Do there pilots even have the training for something like that?

      • Anon2

        May 24, 2022 at 7:50 am

        92 ground to air missiles can destroy them all.

      • Ashli Babbitt deserved that bullet

        May 24, 2022 at 7:53 am

        You gotta be retarded. 92 palne isn’t enough to fight near mach 3 aircraft twice their number. Everyone but the USAF uses IRST before the Turkey-35. Raptor has none and won’t see its attackers.
        Iranian fighter was an F-4. Not a China’s Typhoon ripoff, itself which has several Raptor kills under its belt.
        In 2020, F-22s recently failed to intercept a MIG-31. It won’t keep up with faster newer aircraft.

  2. Him

    May 24, 2022 at 1:36 am

    I never understood why the U.S. didn’t make ALL of their F35’s, rather than just some, to have vertical takeoff. You see Russian strategists saying that Russia should have destroyed all the airfields in Ukraine – which they didn’t. But it shows that in a full-blown war, the Totalitarian regimes would intend to first destroy NATO’s airfields. Hence, it would be useful if ALL F35’s could have vertical takeoff.

    • Fluffy Dog

      May 24, 2022 at 10:02 am

      Because they (F-35C) are about twice as expensive as F-35A.
      Sweden took the most rational approach to this long time ago by making their fighters capable of landing on the highways and designing parts of their highways to act as emergency landing strips. Some of the Russian aircraft were also designed to handle the rough runway, MIG-23,29, for example.

  3. Anon2

    May 24, 2022 at 7:49 am

    “Finally, today’s fifth-generation aircraft – including the F-22 – can target an enemy from well-beyond visual range.”

    Hypersonics have infinite range, depending on the size used.

    These articles are annoying. Just like msm they are full of vacuous nonsense, making them redundant.

    • Fluffy Dog

      May 24, 2022 at 9:53 am

      @Anon2 I am sorry to say this, but you are talking out of your ass to use the vernacular. “well-beyond visual range” refers to aerial targets. Hypersonic weapons are not designed to deal with those.
      And if the articles are annoying you, stop reading and commenting.

  4. Michael. Sadler

    May 24, 2022 at 5:43 pm

    That is a very interesting question I know the capabilities of the F 22 raptor I also know China has been advancing the technology in weapons if it’s like Russia then they exaggerate I would say the F 42 with the extremely hard to shoot down if China has what they say they have then I’m not sure but I would have to say probably not I think the F 22 raptor would prevail at least I pray it would

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