Philippine FA-50PH shot down F-22 Raptor ‘on the right turn’

The F-22 Raptor, the United States’ fifth-generation stealth aircraft designed for breaching enemy air defenses, encountered a formidable adversary in the form of the Korean-made FA-50 fighter jet. 

The most recent encounter of these two aircraft in a combative setting took place in the skies over Luzon, where the FA-50 belonging to the Philippine Air Force [PAF] closely contested the American war jet and even alleged to have achieved a successful “kill” against the F-22. A noticeable surge in defense collaboration occurred between the Philippines and the United States in the year 2023. 

The Philippines, a nation of islands situated in the South China Sea, witnessed the arrival of numerous cutting-edge fighter jets for the first time. The Korean-made FA-50 was reported to have defeated the U.S. Air Force’s F-22 Raptor during the 2023 iteration of the ‘Cope Thunder’ exercise between the U.S. and the Philippines, an event making a comeback after a hiatus of 33 years.

Philippine FA-50PH shot down F-22 Raptor 'on the right turn'
Photo credit: Twitter

In a recent journal entry, the Philippine Air Force [PAF] disclosed an unexpected achievement. Notably, the radio was alive with the confident proclamation of a Filipino fighter pilot during an aerial combat exercise with the F-22 Raptor, “Fox 2! Killed one Raptor on the right turn!” 

The journal entry elaborates, “This incident marked a momentous development in military history. The Philippine’s Lead-in Fighter Aircraft triumphed over a 5th generation fighter jet in a simulated court of air combat, which took place in the airspace over Luzon, within the context of the Cope Thunder Exercise.”

The F-22 Raptor, a twin-engine, all-weather, stealth tactical fighter jet, is produced exclusively for the United States Air Force [USAF] by the renowned manufacturer, Lockheed Martin. This sophisticated aircraft emerged under the Advanced Tactical Fighter [ATF] initiative of the USAF, which aimed to develop dominance in air combat scenarios and establish control on the ground through its advanced assault potentials, electronic warfare capabilities, and signal intelligence prowess. 

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Lockheed Martin assumed responsibility for the construction of the majority of the F-22’s airframe and its formidable weapon systems, including the final assembly. Conversely, Boeing, another critical player, undertook the manufacturing of the aircraft’s wings and the aft fuselage, along with crucial tasks of avionics integration and the development of training systems. Thus, the creation of this exceptional fighter plane represented a collaborative achievement between the two leading aerospace corporations.

The F-22A, initially assigned the designations of F-22 and F/A-22, officially entered operational service in December 2005. Despite the protracted process of its development and subsequent operational challenges, the United States Air Force [USAF] deems the F-22 as an indispensable tactical fighter. It boasts superior stealth technology, uncompromised aerodynamic capabilities, and the globally unrivaled proficiency of its avionic systems. 

For the Pakistan Air Force [PAF], acquiring the F-22, a 5th-generation fighter aircraft, denotes a significant accomplishment. This aircraft, unabashedly superior to the F-35 in terms of speed and stealth, is an agile fighter. Notably, the F-22 possesses a low single-shot kill probability [SSKP] against long-range Beyond Visual Range [BVR] targets. This superiority was evidenced in a drill in Norway where the F-22 triumphed over the F-35 in both dogfight and BVR combat scenarios. 

Half Philippine fighters grounded, FA-50PH spare parts issues
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The F-22 has demonstrated an enhanced capacity to remain undetected, surpassing initial expectations. In terms of radar detection, the radar cross section [RCS] of the F-22 is comparable to a minute piece of steel.

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In contrast to the F-22’s ability to reach velocities close to 2.0 Mach, the F-35’s maximum speed is generally limited to around 1.70 Mach. It also lacks the F-22’s agility during close-quarter combat scenarios. The F-22 boasts a superior climb rate of approximately 62,000 feet per minute. Comparatively, the F-35 musters a markedly slower climb rate of around 45,000 feet per minute.

The Unexpected Ascendant FA-50 

The FA-50, a variant of South Korea’s supersonic advanced jet trainers and T-50 Golden Eagle light combat aircraft, is a product of a joint venture between Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) and Lockheed Martin. Conceived in the 1990s, it officially joined the operational ranks of the Republic of Korea Air Force in 2005. 

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Meanwhile, the Philippines welcomed twelve of these FA-50 fighter jets into its air force ranks, with the induction occurring in 2015.

Cope Thunder 2023

In 1976, the inception of Cope Thunder took place in the Philippines at Clark Air Base, functioning as an annual occurrence. However, the calamitous eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991 necessitated a temporary cessation of the exercise. The following year, the operation relocated to Eielson Air Force Base, experiencing a significant metamorphosis, eventually becoming synonymous with Red Flag Alaska.

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In a celebratory recurrence, Cope Thunder will revisit its original birthplace, the Philippines, in 2023, after more than thirty years. This resumption offers an exceptional occasion for both the United States and the Philippines to unite and enhance cooperative efforts, meanwhile strengthening interoperability.

Participation in the exercise Cope Thunder 23-2 included the US Air Force F-22 Raptor from the Hawaiian Raptors Squadron, a contingent comprising the 19th and 199th Fighter Squadrons. The military training took place at various air bases such as Clark Air Base, Mactan Air Base, and other Philippine airfields.

The primary objective of the joint military exercise was to bolster the interoperability between the United States and the Philippines. The training provided a platform for an exchange of tactics, techniques, and procedures aiming to amplify the efficacy of cooperative operations.

The distinguished combat legacy of the F-22 

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In its inaugural ‘combat surge’ over Syria in 2018, the F-22 marked its indelible imprint by successfully warding off 587 Syrian, Iranian, and Russian combat aircraft and deploying 4,250 pounds of ordnance on adversarial locations, as stated by the Pentagon at that time. 

Pilots of the F-22 from the 94th Fighter Wing concluded an impressive 590 single flights that summed up to 4,600 flight hours, with an astounding 4,250 pounds of ordnance unloaded during their mission to the area, in what the Pentagon referred to as the “first-ever F-22 Raptor combat surge”. 

Concerning the Pentagon’s statements, the F-22 successfully “deterred” 587 enemy aircraft, which implies that the jet commands considerable respect against older Russian-made models often utilized by Russian and Syrian forces. It is noted that this surge observed F-22 operations at their pinnacle over three days.

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