Is the Dogfight Dead?


WW2 dogfight.jpg

Defense Industry Daily has an interesting series of snippets about the F-22 posted today, and the center of the controversy appears to pit old skool thinking against new.

The "Fighter Mafia" boys at the Center for Defense Information say the Raptor is a pig. According to the DID article "F-16 program analyst Pierre Sprey and author James Stevenson argued that the F-22's fuel:weight ratio, wing loading, and acceleration are inferior to existing fighters. They contend that numbers, acceleration, fast changes in energy state, and a 360 degree cockpit view count for more in [dogfights]."

But Raptor driver Lt. Col. Wade Tolliver basically says concerns regarding maneuverability are moot when one considers the capabilities of a Fifth Generation fighter like the F-22: "It's amazing the information you have at your fingertips." He claims that in no-holds-barred mock battles with F-15s, F-16s and the Navy's F/A-18 Hornets, he and other Raptor pilots generally "destroy" their adversaries before those foes even realize they're around.

So who's right? Are the days of "gettin' in the phone booth" over? Or will aerodynamic performance and pilot skill still matter when all the high-techery goes kaput in the heat of battle?

-- Ward

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