Spanish Eurofighters and US F-22s in a duel over the far north

Four Spanish Eurofighter jets are now actively involved in Arctic Defender, the first major exercise since the deployment of Pacific skies, taking place in Alaska, USA. Running through July 17, this high-stakes exercise features participation from the German Luftwaffe, the French Armée de l’Air et de l’Espace, the United States Marine Corps, and the United States Air Force. A flag-type drill, Arctic Defender simulates highly realistic air combat scenarios between two air forces. 

Spanish Eurofighters and US F-22s in a duel over the far north
Photo credit: Airbus

The epicenter of Arctic Defender is Eielson Air Force Base, located in the heart of Alaska. However, operations extend over an expansive airspace totaling 300,000 square kilometers. 

The Spanish Air Force is contributing with the Plus Ultra Group, comprising four Eurofighters and two A400Ms, alongside dedicated aircrews and ground support personnel. The primary goal of Arctic Defender is to immerse pilots in lifelike combat situations, enhancing their readiness to tackle potential threats in the most demanding and remote environments. Throughout the exercise, the four participating air forces are expected to engage up to 70 aircraft simultaneously in individual missions.

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Photo credit: FluRevue

Against US stealths

Spain’s Eurofighters are gearing up to face off against fifth-generation fighter jets like the F-35s and F-22s. In some missions, these jets will be adversaries; in others, they will be allies. “These exercises are designed to simulate potential threats that Spanish pilots might encounter in hypothetical scenarios, pushing their training limits,” the Aerospace Force noted. On the first day, pilots participated in fam flights, getting acquainted with the Alaskan airspace. 

For two full days, Army Aerospace will take the lead in planning and executing missions, taking on the role of mission commander. Additionally, for two more days, they will spearhead air-to-air combat missions, known as Offensive Counter Air missions, and coordinate air-to-ground missions [Air Interdiction] for another full day. “These exercises aim to train personnel in weapon firing within a new environment and practice the entire sequence of assembly, maintenance, and ground support operations,” the force emphasized.

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Photo credit: RAAF / X

Eurofighter vs. F-22 Raptor

The Eurofighter Typhoon and the F-22 Raptor are both cutting-edge fighter jets, each bringing something unique to the table. The F-22 Raptor, a product of Lockheed Martin, is famous for its stealth capabilities. Its design greatly minimizes radar detection, giving it a massive edge in beyond-visual-range [BVR] combat by allowing it to engage targets while remaining virtually undetected.

In contrast, the Eurofighter Typhoon, developed by a consortium of European companies, shines in agility and maneuverability. Thanks to its canard-delta wing configuration, it offers superior aerodynamic performance, especially during dogfights. The Typhoon can make tight turns and rapid maneuvers, turning it into a formidable competitor in close-quarters combat.

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Photo credit: Pixabay

On the avionics and sensor front, the F-22 Raptor comes equipped with the AN/APG-77 radar, offering advanced tracking and targeting capabilities. This radar, combined with the F-22’s stealth design, permits it to detect and engage enemy aircraft from greater distances. The Eurofighter Typhoon also boasts advanced radar systems like the Captor-E AESA radar, but it can’t match the F-22’s stealth, making it more visible at longer ranges.

When it comes to firepower, both aircraft are loaded with an array of weapons. The F-22 Raptor can carry a mix of air-to-air missiles, including the AIM-120 AMRAAM and AIM-9 Sidewinder, providing a versatile arsenal for various combat situations. Similarly, the Eurofighter Typhoon is armed with a range of missiles, such as the Meteor and IRIS-T, effective in both BVR and close-quarters engagements.

One drawback of the F-22 Raptor is its cost and maintenance demands. The advanced materials and technologies make it expensive to produce and maintain, limiting the number in service. The Eurofighter Typhoon, while also costly, is generally easier to maintain and has been produced in larger numbers, offering a logistical advantage.

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Photo credit: Pixabay

In summary, if a Eurofighter Typhoon and an F-22 Raptor were to duel, the F-22 would likely dominate in BVR combat due to its stealth and advanced radar systems. However, in a close-range dogfight, the Typhoon’s superior agility and maneuverability could tip the scales in its favor. Ultimately, the outcome would hinge on the specific combat scenario and the skills of the pilots involved.

Nearly 80 flying hours

Spanish aircraft are set to complete a rigorous schedule of eighty flight hours, spread across forty missions. According to the Air Force, this is to showcase their ability to tackle complex missions reliably and to integrate technologically advanced and interoperable capabilities with various allied nations. 

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Photo credit: Pixabay

The Arctic Defender exercise presents a unique chance for participating nations’ air forces to enhance their interoperability and refine their strategies in complex scenarios. It’s also an excellent opportunity for exchanging experiences and aligning procedures, particularly in cooperation with the Luftwaffe. 

The first Pacific Skies exercise will see contributions from diverse units, including the 14th Wing, 31st Wing, Air Deployment Support Squadron [EADA], Air Medical Deployment Support Unit, Armaments and Experimentation Logistics Center, Economic Affairs Directorate, and Headquarters Air Mobility and Air Combat Command.


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