How France Shot Down America’s F-22 Stealth Fighter (In a Simulation)

How France Shot Down America’s F-22 Stealth Fighter (In a Simulation)

David Axe

Security,

At least in the simulation.

Key Point: Stealth becomes less effective the closer you get to targets.

Past evidence seems to confirm that a French fighter pilot once “killed” an American F-22 Raptor stealth fighter in mock combat.

Although not unprecedented, the simulated shoot-down is still a big deal for a couple reasons.

For one, the Lockheed Martin-made F-22 is supposed to be the most fearsome warplane in history, a quarter-billion-dollar-per-plane technological marvel that flies higher and faster than its opponents while avoiding detection by radar. The Pentagon is counting on a tiny number of the pricey Raptors — slightly more than 180 — to ward off potentially much larger numbers of enemy planes for the foreseeable future. Every mock dogfight the F-22 loses undermines the Pentagon’s plans for air dominance.

Plus, the French still have a totally undeserved reputation in non-French military circles for battlefield incompetence — one based mostly on a bad reading of World War II history. That a French pilot could defeat an F-22 speaks volumes about the Raptor’s limitations … and about French air-combat prowess seven decades after Paris’ surrender to Nazi Germany.

The French victory over the F-22 occurred in November 2009. A squad of F-22s from the Air Force’s 1st Fighter Wing in Virginia flew to Al Dhafra, in the UAE, to train with French air force Rafale fighters and Typhoon jets from the British Royal Air Force.

The following month, the French Ministry of Defense released video captures from a Rafale’s forward-facing camera showing an F-22 in a disadvantageous dogfighting position, implying the French plane had won at least one round of pretend fighting.

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