For our first comparison, we brought together two of the world’s most renowned fifth-generation fighter jets. On hand is the F-35 Lightning II which is renowned as the most expensive program for weapon procurement while on the other hand is the aircraft that is known for its air dominance for many years. Despite being similar to each other in many aspects, both F-35 Lightning II and F-22 Raptor are totally different aircraft in every way.
These two aircraft are built to perform nearly same missions but the F-35 Lightning II was developed to carry out the missions which F-22 Raptor is unable to perform. Similarly, F-35 Lightning II also has its own demits where F-22 shines.
For our readers today we decided to present a comparison of F-35 Lightning II VS F-22 Raptor.
The one thing that F-22 is that it is expensive. It is in fact so expensive that the USAF was forced to stop the production of this aircraft early on due to an increase in project cost. After including the research as well as developmental cost, the cost of one F-22 Raptor goes up to 31 5 million dollars while the unit cost is still 150 million dollars.
Initially, USAF had the intention to have 700 of these bad boys but due to the budget exceeding, they had to put a halt hot it at only 200 aircraft. Even the flight cost per hour of the F-22 is around 60000 dollars.
As for F-35 Lightning II, it is fairly cheaper but equally efficient to F-22 when it comes to unit price of the aircraft. As of now, Pentagon is under contract for procuring nearly 90 of the F-35 Lightning IIs from the manufacturer Lockheed Martin for a contract of 8.2 billion dollars. As for the whole program, the US Navy, Air Force and Marines after the complete project will have near 2400 of these F-35 Lightning IIs. The reason is simply that the unit cost of 1 F-35 Lightning II is about 91 million dollars while the cost for 1 hour of flight is a little high at 67000 dollars.
Due to its superior maneuvering and its ability to target the on-land targets with precision and the fact topped with its cheap manufacturing costs, the US army looks to produce the F-35 Lightning II until 2037. As for the very last F-22 Raptor delivered to the US Army, it was back in 2012.
The F-22 has been fitted with special AN/APG-77 radar built by Northrop Grumann. This radar has the capability to make the F-22 able to detect and engage the enemy aircraft without even showing up in their radar.
The AN/APG-77 radar makes use of the 2,000 transmitters/receiver modules antennas to scan the targets electronically. With this system, it can also communicate the data information to jam the electronic system of the enemy’s aircraft.
As for the countermeasures of the F-22 Raptor, if the aircraft is targeted by a heat-seeking missiles it evades it by firing off flares.
In case the F-22 is targeted by a radar-guided missile, it shoots off ‘Chaff” which is the small pieces of reflective materials that scatter the radar waves.
Now coming to the F-35 Lightning II, it is equipped with Northrop Grumman’s state of the art AN/APG-81 avionics system. In addition to containing all the modes of the AN/APG-71, AN/APG-81 also has the following air-to-air modes as well.
- Mapping the ground in high resolution
- EOTS (Advanced Electro-Optical Targeting System)
- An additional Barracuda electronic warfare system custom designed from the AN/ASQ-239
All of these systems working hand in hand allow the pilot of F-35 Lightning Ii to have a never before achieved 360 degrees awareness.
As for countermeasures, F-35 Lightning is equipped with the Multispectral Imaging.
Speed is where the Raptor has an edge over the F-35 Lightning II and by a lot. F-35 Lightning II was not built for breakaway speed as it was designed to for air-to-ground mission priorities. This gave it only a top speed of nearly Mach 1.60 with limited maneuverability during the dogfights.
As for F-22, it can speed up all the way when it hits the mark of Mach 2.25. While F-22 is also able to climb the altitude with a rate of 62000 ft/min, F-35 Lightning II has a climb rate of 45000 ft/min.
For every aspect of size, the F-22 Raptor is bigger when compared with F-35 Lightning II. The size specs of each of them are as follows.
|F-22 Raptor||F-35 Lightning II|
|Wingspan||44 feet, 6 inches (13.6 meters)||35 feet (10.7 meters)|
|Length||62 feet, 1 inch (18.9 meters)||51 feet (15.7 meters)|
|Height||16 feet, 8 inches (5.1 meters)||14 feet|
|Maximum Takeoff Weight||83,500 pounds||70,000 pounds|
The major physical difference between the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lightning II is their weapons bay.
F-22 is designed for engaging in air-to-air combat missions and hence the main weapons bay is fitted in the bottom of the fuselage section and is able to hold in 6 of the LAU-142/A launchers for missiles to shoot down enemy targets far from the visual range.
As for either side weapons bay located at the eight and left of the fuselage are able to hold in a single LAU-141/A launcher for firing short-range missiles.
As for the F-35 Lightning II, it is designed with an intention to operate more versatility as compared to F-22. Its weapons bay, following its need, is also unique with it being both narrow and deep than the weapons bay of F-22.
The weapons bay of F-35 Lightning II is able to hold in following bombs for air-to-ground mission needs.
- AIM-120 AMRAAM
- AIM-132 ASRAAM Brimstone anti-tank missiles
- Cluster Munitions
- Joint Direct Attack Munition
- Paveway series bombs
Some of these bombs weigh up to 2000 pounds whereas the heaviest bomb that F-22 can carry weighs almost 1000 pounds.