An F-35 with an extra engine is incredibly a whole lot like the F-22. Except for one thing. The F-35 is a multi-role fighter. Its handy for everything
but excels at nothing (as far as I have seen anyway). So it doesn't need the extra sped provided by another engine.
Jack of all trades, master of none.
The simple fact of the matter is that what makes the crate is the systems inside it and their ability to interface with things that go boom.
In this, the APG-81's later use of 'button' vice 'tile' or 'brick' AESA transmit receive modules has meant some improvements in the way each
TRM handles onboard phase mastering for ground mapping modes. This technology should and could be transfered to the older (more powerful, 1,200 vs.
800 total modules) APG-77 on the Raptor. But it has not been.
Similarly, the F-22 has continually suffered in the electrooptic department, first losing the 'EOSS' or Electro Optic Sensor System which was
effectively twin IRST/TV cameras in the wing roots. And then the 'AIRST' (Advanced Infrared Search Track) which was an undernose fitting that
looked /suspiciously/ like the EOTS on the F-35.
With these systems ability to take InSAR (Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar) patch maps and cue the EO suite to micro-targets of roughly .5-1m2
for ID at approximately 25-35miles (roughly twice what even the Navy LANTIRN could do), the ability to drop inertial weapons is /worthless/.
A further aid to the use of IAMs is 'AMSTE' which is effectively a weapon datalink that uses EDGE/WAGE technology to track the munition and the
(moving) target while generating differential GPS offset steering calculations which the weapon hears as kind of a modification of the satellite
constellation signal. This Affordable Moving Surface Target Engagement capability is also likely imbedded in the JSF architecture, either through
it's ICNIA comms suite. Or in the radar itself.
So yes, in it's avionics capability, the F-35 is indeed superior to the F-22. But only through a process of direct neglect. Because the F-22's
architecture (backplane, CIP processor modules etc. etc.) have all been greatly spec-exceeded by the passage of time and to properly rekit up to
current SOA would be a major (and necessary) program in and of itself.
OTOH, the F-35's weapons bays are a compromise to allow the presence of a centerline STOVL module and an S-curve inlet while maintaining the ability
to load 25" vs. 19" span (MK.83 warhead vs. Mk.84 warhead) munitions /outboard/ of the compressed carriage AIM-120's on the inner doors.
This was a complete jinx of the aircraft structural qualities (they have had to redesign the wingroot 'lap joints' TWICE looking to optimize
strength for weight) as the the airframe is basically an open cornered box frame in which most of the rigid-frame integrity has been deeply
compromised by putting 4,000lbs of munitions and a wingroot landing gear on opposite sides of an already highly stressed frame joint. It's like an
architect installing a joist over a doorway in a house supporting a second story, only to discover that there are no vertical connections between the
crossbeam and the ground floor.
Furthermore, the use of the 2,000lb Mk.84 of BLU-109/116 based munitions warheads is largely obsolete and /useless/ now that we have IAMs (Inertial
Aided Munitions) which are averaging 2.6 meter circular error probables for accuracy.
And the reason it is a complete waste (compared to the Raptor) is that you cannot load /spanwise/, across the belly of the airframe, _multiple_
weapons types. The internal stations only take AAM inboard and JDAM outboard.
Compare this to an F-22 which could theoretically take the GBU-32/35 (1,000lb) JDAM with only half a meter's less penetration through hard targets.
Or a BRU-61 'SMER' (Smart Multiple Ejector Rack) which can itself carry FOUR GBU-39 (250lb IAM) or ADM-160 (200lb decoy) or LOCAAS (135lb
minimaverick hunting antitank weapon) or two GBU-38 (500lb IAM.
While still maintaining up to FOUR /other/ weapons stations on which to load single examples of bigger weapons like the HSARM/AARGM ramjet HARM
derivative. And the AIM-120 or Meteor BVR weapons.
The F-35 will _never_ have such a broad mix of internal stores because it's JDAM well is literally so deep that you cannot eject an AMRAAM (or like
weapon) out of it on a LAU-142. And the inner station is too small to load an AARGM or similar (90% of all lethal engagements on aircraft being
_surface_ to air, not air to air based) munition.
And as soon as you go to external carriage on EITHER jet, you are just another conventional-signature /target/.
The F-22 however is mainly tagged as an Intereceptor. Which means 2 things.
Actually, interceptor is more a term associated with 'DCA' or Defensive Counter Air. Air Superiority is 'OCA' (Offensive Counter Air) in a purist
sense is more along the lines of what the ATF program sought to achieve. Killing raids as they formed up or RTB'd deep over East Germany and Poland.
Along with high value targets like Tu-22M's and MiG-25BM slinging AS-9 Kyle and AS-11 Kilter long range ARMs. And SUAWACS or what became the A-50
To do this it needed a 750nm combat radius of which a substantial fraction was to be in supercruise mode.
Today, the F-22's misison is more often described as 'Air Dominance' or the COMBINED prosecution of S2A and A2A (surface to air and air to air)
threats. It has very little capability against the former, thanks to short falls in targeting and munitions carriage. But it is natively adaptable
to that mission.
It needs to get within range of the target before the targets are able to carry out their objectives. Whether that is a bomb run, a strike, or just
escape, its gotta get there.
This is another area where the byword 'multirole' screws people up in a modern airpower context. _Stealth does not want to catch ANYONE_.
It's entire mission set is defined by a 'contempt of engagement' by which it is utterly unperturbed in it's mission tasking. Whether that be
tackling a particularly capable HVA platform like an AEW plane or dropping a JDAM on a pre-fragged (satellite coordinates programmed before launch)
surface threat like a sector ops center or surveillance radar or SAM site.
The only time it needs to kill something not 'in the brief' is when that threat is threatening /somebody else's/ gameplan.
And that is where you tend to get into trouble with small forces trying to protect bigger ones (whether conventional like the F-16C/F-15E or
'semi-LO' like the F-35) because it has to spread itself thin to cover all approaches to that secondary (protective) mission force.
And this makes it work harder than it needs to while pinning it, predictably, to a give location around the strike package TIMES as much as routes on
It also needs to blow the crap out of the target. Manueverability is a necessity should a dogfight come around. It's unlikely that a dogfight to
erupt in our BVR society, but if it does we don't want a failed intercept cuz the engineers had lack of foresight.
Actually, /agility/ (which is to maneuverability what quick is to fast) is one of the least necessary items for any supercrusing jet, simply because
the so-called 'hi fast sanctuary' in the 45-50K realm is beyond any reasonable ability to engage in a dogfight due to the extremely thin air and the
almost dead certainty that the DAS (or AAR-56 on the F-22) will detect the threat aircraft climbing towards it /minutes/ before said threat is a able
to touch the Raptor.
I will grant that the amount of G the Raptor has to endure while making supersonic cutoff and check turns is likely much more so (for the given
fuel/munition weight on the airframe) than existing platforms warrant but at it's most basic, if a Raptor pilot goes fangs out, hair afire into a
'dogfight' with /any/ airframe when it could have run away 5 minutes earlier, it's pilot should be courtmartialed. And then shot.
183 million hear. 20-30 million here. You just don't need the closein kill that badly if you have run out of missiles. And here too, if the F-22
doesn't itself see the inbound bandits /long/ before they make conversion angles on him. You can sure as hell bet that the AEW&C platform will.
The F-22 has to fulfill those overgeneralized criteria. That's because that is its mission profile.
No. The F-22 has to make radius in a given number of hours and then return to base, combat turn the airframe and prepare to do it again. SORTIES win
wars sir. In the final days of WWII, the Germans, cornered on the very doorstep of Berlin, flew 4,000 sorties in like 5 days. They had nothing to
lose, no need to conserve fuel. And nothing else left. And because they were operating from hard surface runways while the Soviets were cludging
along in the mud and muck of a very wet spring and could only manage about 1/3rd as many launches, they stopped /cold/ an enemy armored spearhead that
outnumbered them, 20:1 or better in every combat arm.
The difference, today, is that if I want to destroy an American airpower heavy offense against my local theater dominance, I am sure as hell not going
to attack them in the air where I haven't the foggiest dang clue where it 'stealthily goeth' but rather ON THE RAMP at airbase X where I can
guarantee that, if not the airframe then certainly the men, munitions and JP-8 is stacked up like legos ontop of each other.
In turn if, for political or ballistic fire reasons, I am unable to get into a theater thru a process called 'access denial', I will STILL need to
generate a certain number of sorties per day to ensure that the enemy does not simply shell-game me in the interval between raids.
Which is where the F-22 really shines. Because supercruise in the combat area to defend /other bombers/ is a function of starts and stops which are
really inefficient as a function of staying withing defensive proximity of the raid group.
OTOH, supercruise in the TRANSIT PHASE (there and back again) is something that you can do as a function of a 'burnup' profile wherein you make a
supersonic climb out of the ugly, draggy, air at sea level and then settle down to about Mach 1.25-1.3 for 150-200 miles at 30,000ft. Then you step
up again to Mach 1.4-1.53 for another 300 miles. Then you slow down and hit a tanker in the next 150 miles. All on about 60% of your maximum
At which point you firewall it (to compensate for the readded fuel weight) and clock up to about Mach 1.53-1.67 as you cross the fence into enemy
territory. And 200-250nm later, you drop anywhere from 4 to 8 GBU-39 which /themselves/ are going to fly upwards of 60-80nm further downrange.
Before turning around and coming back out at maximum loping gallumph of around Mach 1.78.
To hit the tanker again. And come home at a medium velocity (some 3,000lbs of ordnance lighter) of 1.4-1.53 again.
In about 3hrs.
Do this in an F-35, 'subsonic all the way' and /even though/ both aircraft have around 20,000lbs of fuel. _Even though_ the F-22 is burning that
fuel through 2 engines.
The F-35 will need twice as many tankings and take as much as 7hrs to 'hobbit along' (there and back again).
THAT is 'multirole' because where you carry more versatile mix of useful munitions and can hit the target 3-5 times as often as you competing
You have more 'roles and missions' flex in the so called /interceptor/ than you do in the multirole platform.
This is of particular importance for an Air Force whose manning ratio has gone from a high of around 1.7:1 during the cold war to less than 1.3:1
presently. Because tired pilots make dumb mistakes, especially when you start messing with their circadians (one F-15E FLIGHT [of four] aircraft had
eight men sleeping as they transited Kuwait into Iraq for a night of SCUD wombat hunting after a days worth of conventional interdiction).
The F-35 is a baseline aggressive and defensive aircraft. It doesn't need to excel at interception because if it does its gonna be less effective in
The F-35 fighter mission was compromised the instant that they fitted it with only a pair of rocket propelled missile that has a 20-25nm outer pole
limit when fired subsonically. At these types of engagement distances, it is all too easy to get into a game of "I'm outside your radar scan, no,
I'm outside of yours!" 'bilateralism' in which jets seek to split their formations and envelope enemy section/division tactical teams that just
don't have the energy or the munitions count to either force one side of the pincer before turning back into the other. Or flat out leg both 'damn
the torpedoes, right up the middle'.
OTOH, the notion that you are going to fly a 700nm radius, unrefueled, in the F-35 is predicated on NEVER using your A/B (which is mandatory in a
'fighter vs. fighter' response to a threat where your jet weighs 50,000lbs at takeoff and only has roughly 43,000lbst installed thrust while
maintaining a wingloading in the region of 100lbs/square foot on that tiny wing). So if you get jumped, not only are you probably suffering a
mission-kill as you burn away all your gas trying to /accelerate same/ (an F-teen would just dump tanks), but you are starting at a distance which
allows the threat to see your sudden thermal bloom on his IRST in time to squirt off a missile at you, even if you ARE 'nominally invisible on
The only area wherein the F-35 could beat the Raptor in this regard is in numbers. Wherein, if an enemy (missile as much as DCA) trap is sprung on an
inbound package of anything from 4 to 24 aircraft, /then/ the total numbers of 'bomber turret' missiles goes upwards considerably (without
sacrificing LO internal carriage). The problem is that of sortie tactics and force structure economics.
The last time the USAF bought _just one_ F-22 'as a reward to Lockheed' for production line economics savings, it cost them 117 million dollars.
Right now, the JSF is tagged as somewhere between 80 and 100 million each which the severely shrunk F-22 is somewhere between 133 and 183 million.
2:1 trades in airframes are not worth it if you can only fly them half as often. And /particularly/ if you have to fly so many at the same target
area that you end up burning sorties just to guarantee penetration and overkill.
Indeed, one of the /original/ (1991, F-117 vs. F-16) arguments for Stealth was that it did NOT require as many aircraft. Such is simply not the case
here because a force of 60 Raptors will fly about 4 complete mission evolutions in your average 12-15hr 'air day' before standing down for
maintenance and crew rest. With 8 bombs per airframe, per sortie, that's 60X4X8 or 1,920 individual aimpoints. Vs. the typical 2 sorties at 7 hours
each that a 120 airframe force can achieve with 2 bombs (it should be noted that the F-35 has not yet 'cleared' the GBU-39/SMER combination as it
has not yet even flown but I am assuming a bias towards heavy-weapon 'building killers' as it's design role initially intended) comes out to
120X2X2 or 480 aimpoints serviced.
The Raptor wins by a healthy margin and does so with HALF the force requirements of the JSF. 133X60 = 7.98 billion dollars. 90X120 = 10.8 BILLION
dollars. For half the number of aimpoints hit.
And it get's worse as soon as you 'multirole' accept that the F-35's inferior signature performance and internal weapons carriage variety means
you are going to be replacing F-16C.50d (HARM shooter) with like external carriage JSF variants. Because only the JSF has the gas to make radius.
And the Viper is simply getting /old/ in our service.
Now, because there are so few F-22, and they are officially proscribed from being 'multi-anything', you will find that your F-35 force is not 120
airframes but 120 - 20. For added air superiority configured 'shotgun' close escort jets. Minus another 20 for long range ARM/decoy shooters.
Minus another 3-6 for a dedicated EA (Jammer) platform which is /never/ going to be able to drop bombs because it's innards have been permanently
altered to accept the high-power jamming mission. Altogether, 'multirole' then ends up /swing missioning/ over a spectrum of tasks which leaves you
with perhaps...you guessed it, 60-65 jets.
And your aimpoints-per-day numbers just got shot in the foot again.
The F-22 you see is an able bomber, but it is not as good as some others are. Thats cuz its an interceptor. The F-117 is a very poor AA craft, but
thats because it doesn't HAVE to. Even if it has an "F" designation.
The reality of life is that the mission has changed. No longer do we have to 'recognize' a specific target to designate it with a laser while a PGM
follows the basket down to an impact. We can stand off a minimum of 12-15 (heavy weight JDAM) and as much as 25-30 (lightweight GBU-39 with 1.3m of
penetration energy from a subsonic launch) or even 50nm (subsonic, airburst) and kill-a-coordinate.
This means that the 'bomber' SHOULD BE exactly that. A specialist mission platform which has /no/ 'fighter features' like a bulbous canopy, a
massively overmuscled engine or a set of huge tails. Nor does it need an AAM suite or a hogsnose radar. All of which subtract upwards of 20,000lbs
from the basic empty equipped weight of the airframe.
And since the rule pretty much remains 1 million dollars per 1,000lbs of airframe weight, that in turn implies that a 'specialist' (single role)
airframe with NO PILOT could run as little as 10-20 million dollars.
A highly affordable price and one which realistically allows your enemy to shoot down UCAVs -specifically- for the purpose of giving away their own
locations that they may in turn die, very badly.
Against an S-300 SAM or Su-30 Intercept threat, this 'lemming approach' may well be enough to let even a tiny force of Raptors 'hunt the
Against a Taliban threat, it means that you can buy back airframe weight as /gas/ so that your jet loiters for 6-8 hours over the enemy instead of the
20 minutes which was typical in our first 700nm radius threat theater. A theater where the average threat was an AK-47 with an effective threat floor
of about 3,000ft. And 'the best they could do' was a FIM-92 Stinger which could reach all of about 10-12,000ft above groundlevel. While U.S.
airpower was seldom below 20-25,000ft and thus had upwards of an 8,000ft margin, even in the 'hilly' country on the borders with Krgyzhstan and
You see the F-35 doesn't NEED a second engine because the benifits coming with that engine aren't as useful as the benifits without it. Because of
its mission profile, you see?
I think your mistake is in assuming that a specialist fighter platform should be compared against a 'JOAT' system like the F-35. Rather than
/antother/ specialist _bombing_ platform, the A-45CN. The latter UCAV with similar (ground attack sensor and munition payload) capabilities to the
JSF as a strike asset, is going to bring with it about 300 miles more radius WITH 2hrs on station. It will acquire targets exactly the same
(standoff) way, using EOTS passive targeting FLIR and EXTRA conformal array (downlook only) LPI radar. And it will carry exactly the same payload
options as either of the F-jets in terms of heavyweight 2,000lb JDAM. And lightweight SDB.
And it will only cost about 1/4th to 1/5th that of the JSF. Which means that when we go in, 'first day of war' to kill the enemy, we will STAY for
6-10hrs. With a force of 300-500 jets. None of whom need venture closer than 25nm to a known threat. All of whom will be an order of magnitude more
stealthy (thanks to configuration) than the baseline JSF.
At which point, the threat force should be completely locked down, nation wide. And the only decision should then be whether to wait for them to show
some kind of MTI or Moving Target Indication to kill them directly. Or let them starve until we decide to send ground troops to roll them up where
THAT is the point where airpower will truly /win/ wars. Not when it blows up buildings that are never going anywhere (and hence could be hit by
cruise systems as readily as bombers). But rather when we can deny the enemy the use of his own backfield (rear areas) on 24:7:365 basis of
interdicting his lines of transport and communication.
And the JSF cannot do it. Not with the threats out there. Not with what is coming. Not with the numbers we are likely going to be able to finally
afford (900-1,200, tops).
Don't count out specialist mission platforms just yet. For in their very simplicity lies an optimization that is _better at doing one thing well_
than the jack of all trades platforms do everything rolled up together. And in the absence of a pilot (IAMs render all airframes into little more
than cruise missiles with multiple warhead capability and landing gear) they are more sacrificable to a need (getting the enemy to /try/ to come up
and intercept a force which may very well be light on support missions like jamming or refueling assets, because we have not tried to develop a new
generation of such) so that you don't endlessly fight an Air Dominance war in which the enemy takes potshots while conserving their principal
defensive assets for the 'big push' type fight.
A fight that never comes but rather is performed as an endless constriction of maneuver and logistics throughout the land.
Do that with a 'COP' or Continuously Overhead Presence' mission force of suffcient, cheap, numbers and the realities of the JOAT platform will come
home to smack you in the face with the stupidity of a 'fighter' that doesn't fight. And a bomber which _cannot find targets over time_ sufficient
to influence the course of a campaign.