F22 Raptor Vs F35 Lightning II: How Do They Differ? With the disappearance of a Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II and the downing of a Chinese observation balloon by an F-22 Raptor in February, the newest generation of American combat aircraft has received considerable television air time in 2023. Planes like the F-18 may have starred in blockbuster films like “Top Gun: Maverick,” but the future of air warfare will almost certainly be fought with Raptors and Lightning IIs.
From the exterior, both ships seem futuristic and quite identical, like something you’d unlock in a video game by entering a cheat code. Either plane has a menacing and secretive sense about it. Even though both aircraft have been in the sky for almost two decades, crucial data about the Raptor and the Lightning II remain classified and will likely not be made public until far after they have been withdrawn from service.
Despite their similarities, the planes are quite distinct from one another. The United States military, like any well-rounded force, contracted the F-35 and F-22 Raptor to serve in distinct but overlapping roles on a contemporary battlefield.
Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor: The best in the world
The same may be stated about Russia’s Sukhoi Su-57 fighter jet. And, given China’s and Russia’s well-known propensity to keep secrets about what’s going on in their forces, it’s difficult to correctly appraise the Chengdu or Sukhoi, partly since neither plane has been deployed in combat. According to the U.S. Air Force, “the F-22 cannot be matched by any learned or projected fighter aircraft.”
The F-22 hasn’t experienced many combat deployments (unless a balloon kill counts). The F-22 is capable of what the U.S. Air Force calls “first-kill opportunity.” That implies it can detect, track, and destroy a target aircraft before the opponent pilot knows its presence. The F-22 fulfills its designation as an “air dominance fighter” in every way. Even in the space, there are no credible rivals.
The stealthiest fighter around
Speed is a fundamental priority for any fighter aircraft worth its salt. Although specific figures are unavailable, the F-22’s two engines provide greater thrust than any other fighter jet presently, at roughly 70,000 pounds, more than twice that of the F/A-18 Super Hornet. The F-22 is propelled upwards of Mach 2 by its Pratt & Whitney turbofan engines. It’s also fuel efficient, with a range of almost 1,800 miles. The F-22 Raptor can fly anywhere and get there swiftly, thanks to airborne refueling.
F-35 Lightning II: The world’s new fighter jet
The F-35, unlike the F-22, has been adopted by the military of the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, Denmark, Norway, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Belgium, Poland, Singapore, Finland, Switzerland, and Germany. If you’re friends with the U.S. and don’t mind handing over a few hundred million dollars to Lockheed Martin, you can buy an F-35.Compared to the 183 total Raptors, Lockheed Martin claims that over 965 Lightning IIs have been delivered to their new delighted owners.
Flexibility is key
The F-35 is available in three variants: F-35A, F-35B, and F-35C. All are propelled to a peak speed of over 1,200 miles per hour by a single Pratt & Whitney turbofan engine producing around 40,000 pounds of thrust. The actual payload of the weapons varies, but about 18,000 pounds of bombs or missiles. According to Lockheed Martin, the “A” type is the most common F-35 and may fly as a fighter or a bomber, depending on the mission. Because of its ability to hover in place, the “B” version, lost in South Carolina, can take short takeoffs and vertical landings. Finally, the “C” version is intended for usage on aircraft carrier decks. The F-35 can also carry out electronic warfare and ground assault missions.
Different planes for different jobs
The Raptor wins because of its tremendous speed and ability to enter and exit the combat field without the opposition knowing what transpired. Like its namesake, the P-38 Lightning, the Lightning II may be configured for any job, whether it’s carrier operations, stunning everyone at an air show while hovering, or relaying important intelligence to allied troops in the air, on the ground, or at sea.
To compare, the F-22 is a Bugatti Chiron, the very finest in its class, hands down. The F-35 is a Ford F-150 Lightning that is technologically sophisticated without losing practicality.