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    Stealth Titans in the Sky: F-22 Raptor vs. F-35 Lightning II Showdown

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    FILE PHOTO — The F-22 is an air-superiority fighter with improved capability over current Air Force aircraft. From the inception of the battle, the F-22’s primary objective will be to establish air superiority through the conduct of counter air operations. The F-22 also has an inherent air-to-surface capability. A combination of improved sensor capability, improved situational awareness, and improved weapons provides first-kill opportunity against the threat. (U.S. Air Force photo)

    The skies above the Korean Peninsula recently witnessed an extraordinary ballet of advanced stealth technology as U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors engaged in a rare aerial matchup with South Korean F-35A Lightning IIs.

    Two F-22 Raptors in high attitude above the clouds
    Two F-22 Raptors in high attitude above the clouds

    This remarkable encounter has reignited the perennial debate within aviation circles: Which fifth-generation fighter jet holds supremacy, the F-22 Raptor or the F-35 Lightning II?

    Oshkosh, Wisconsin USA - July 30th, 2022: USA Military Aircraft Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh.
    Oshkosh, Wisconsin USA – July 30th, 2022: USA Military Aircraft Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh.

    The F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II stealth aircraft stand out as the most sophisticated fighter jets globally.

    F35 of US Air Force
    F35 of US Air Force

    Exclusive to the U.S. Air Force, the F-22 Raptor operates, whereas various variants of the F-35 Lightning II are utilized across 18 nations.

    F-22 Raptor Demo Team
    F-22 Raptor Demo Team

    The two aircraft serve distinct purposes. The F-22 functions as an air superiority fighter aircraft crafted to dominate the skies by eliminating enemy aircraft and paving the path for friendly assets.

    Lockheed Martin F-35B
    Lockheed Martin F-35B

    On the other hand, the F-35 operates as a multirole fighter jet capable of coordinating and guiding allied air, ground, and naval units, in addition to engaging targets both in the air and on the ground.

    The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning
    The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning

    Recently, in the southern region of the Korean Peninsula, two U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors engaged with two South Korean F-35A Lightning IIs.

    Airplane F-35 Lightning modern stealth jet fighter flying at the 2017 Planes of Fame Air Show
    Airplane F-35 Lightning modern stealth jet fighter flying at the 2017 Planes of Fame Air Show

    As per the Korean Air Force’s report, the stealth aircraft engaged in dogfights, alternating between offensive and defensive tactics.

    F-22 Raptor Demo Team
    F-22 Raptor Demo Team

    The F-22, theoretically better equipped for close-range combats, was anticipated to hold the upper hand against its more contemporary counterpart.

    F35 of US Air Force
    F35 of US Air Force

    Former Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh had previously delineated the distinct roles of these aircraft, asserting, “The F-35 was never designed to be the next dog fighting machine. It was designed to be the multipurpose, data-integration platform that could do all kinds of things in the air-to-ground arena.”

    The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning
    The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning

    Despite being rooted in different design philosophies, the F-22 and F-35 share similar levels of stealth, with an advantage going to the Raptor due to its lower radar cross-section.

    LEEUWARDEN, THE NETHERLANDS - JUNE 11, 2016: F-35 Lightning II f
    LEEUWARDEN, THE NETHERLANDS – JUNE 11, 2016: F-35 Lightning II f

    Regarding armaments, the F-35 boasts an impressive array of munitions, including the capability to perform nuclear strikes and air-to-ground attacks – roles that the F-22 does not naturally assume.

    Singapore - Feb 10, 2018. Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor aircraft belong to the US Air Force sits on display in Changi, Singapore.
    Singapore – Feb 10, 2018. Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor aircraft belong to the US Air Force sits on display in Changi, Singapore.

    However, the Raptor compensates with its own lethal payload. The F-22 has the capacity to accommodate six LAU-142/A launchers for beyond-line-of-sight missiles.

    F-22 Fighter Jet at Sunset
    F-22 Fighter Jet at Sunset

    Each of the other two weapons bays is equipped with a LAU-141/A launcher for firing short and medium-range Sidewinders and AMRAAMs, granting the Raptor a competitive edge in dogfights.

    Joint Base Andrews Air Show 2015
    Joint Base Andrews Air Show 2015

    Additionally, the aircraft can also conduct ground strikes utilizing precision-guided and unguided bombs.

    Relevant articles:
    F-22 Raptor vs. F-35 Lightning II: The Ultimate Fighter Jet Battle, The National Interest
    F-35 Pilot Compares F-22 Raptor With F-35; Explains What Makes Lightning-II Aircraft Truly ‘Unbeatable’, EurAsian Times
    F-35 Vs F-22: Comparing & Contrasting The Iconic Lockheed Martin Fighter Jets, Simple Flying
    F-22 Raptor vs. F-35 Lightning II Is the Ultimate Stealth Fight (And It Just Happened), The National Interest

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