By John Miller
Sunday the 10th of December, 2017
With a top speed of 1,726 mph the American F-22 enjoys at least one clear advantage over the Russian Su-35, so why do the Yanks cut and run from a plane that maxes out at a mere 1,490, as the US Air Force did in Syria just the other day?
Welp, the F-22 fears the Russian dogfighter. Even though the Americans have a speed advantage flying in a straight line, and their plane is smaller and much more compact.
The Sukhoi Su-35 has a larger wingspan of 50.2 ft (44.5 ft), it is longer at 72.9 ft (62 ft), and taller at 19.4 ft (16.7 ft), but still much lighter at 76,060 lb than the F-22 (83,500 lb), and remarkably more agile. The Russian jets also fly further, 1,940 miles versus 1,840, but as we are learning in Syria its clear advantage is the good old-fashioned close quarters aerial dogfight.
The Su-35 is so superior in the dogfight that the F-22 scrambles and gets the hell out of Dodge every time.
The Russian beast is powered by two Saturn 117S engines with TVC nozzle turbofans, each having 31,900 lbf/14,500 kgf.
The American jackal relies upon two F119-PW-100 turbofan engines, each with two-dimensional thrust vectoring nozzles.
The Su-35 is armed with 1 × 30 mm GSh-30 internal cannon with 150 rounds, and 12 × wing and fuselage stations for up to 17,630 lb of ordnance, including air-to-air missiles, air-to-surface, and bombs.
For its armament, Boeing and Lockheed Martin have given the F-22 1 x M61A2 20-millimetre cannon with 480 rounds, 2 x AIM-9 infrared air-to-air missiles, and either six AIM-120 radar-guided air-to-air missiles OR or two 1,000-pound GBU-32 JDAMs and two AIM-120 radar-guided air-to-air missiles. This is all tucked into carriage bays for maximum stealth.
The advantage that Russia enjoys is that the Su-35, much like the Su-27 before it, is a supermaneuverable fighter. Russian pilots are already familiar with Sukhoi thrust vectoring, and can carry out spectacular dogfighting manoeuvres.
The F-22 sacrificed its thrust vectoring for stealth, and it shows. The Su-35 is trolling the F-22 in mock dogfights all over Syria.
Both planes are capable of destroying the other with a single hit, so the question is, would the Su-35 even know the F-22 was there in a real aviation war? And couldn’t the F-22 just escape using its superior air speed?
Nope. You can’t outrun a missile travelling at 7500 mph.
Can you evade it with super manoeuvrability though? Hard to tell, as F-22s and Su-35s are just mock dogfighting, and nobody is firing missiles yet.
In theory the Su-35 has 12 missiles, while the F-22 maxes out at eight, assuming both sides are fighting for the skies. Right now both sides are loaded up against ISIS, which only has an airforce of pigeons.
In air combat scenarios the Su-35 is expected to fire off a salvo of six missiles with mixed seekers against the F-22, which while it provides only two shots, is believed to be beyond the capacity of the F-22 to elude at close quarters.
The F-22 is also a much more expensive machine than the Su-35, it takes longer to build, and experienced F-22 pilots would take much longer to replace in a war of air casualties.
Its advantage is stealth, and stealth alone. So just how stealthy is the F-22? Can it engage the Su-35 and destroy it at long range before the Su-35 can react?
Welp, the area of the Su-35 visible to radars is about the size of a banquet table. The F-22s radar cross section is about the size of a marble. That is quite an amazing technological advantage.
Approaching close quarters this goes out the window, once the Su-35 detects the F-22 using Infa-Red Search and Tracking and its Irbis-E radar.
The F-22 already knows exactly where the Su-35 is at extremely long range though, and can position itself for control of engagement.
So what it comes down to is can the Russians improve their stealth detection technology? Until then I would imagine the F-22 would much prefer to fight at night, or in the clouds.
The Russians get bragging rights in Syria, but the F-22 wants no part in air battles against the Su-35. Once the two planes are within visual range, the Russian jet wins.
Battles that begin beyond visible range will go to America, and end before they begin with a flawless victory for the USA.
Full disclosure: John Miller’s IRL name is Frank Faulkner. I’m an Aussie and when I’m not obsessing about Conservative politics or defending Trump I also enjoy various sports and Christian activities.