America's F-22 Was Invincible... Until It Met The French Air Force

David Axe

Key Point: Even before the Emirati and French wins in 2009, the Americans knew the F-22 could be beaten, although they rarely mentioned this uncomfortable fact. What does this mean for the future of the F-22, and the U.S. Air Force? 

Past evidence seems to confirm that a French fighter pilot once “killed” an American F-22 Raptor stealth fighter in mock combat.

Although not unprecedented, the simulated shoot-down is still a big deal for a couple reasons.

For one, the Lockheed Martin-made F-22 is supposed to be the most fearsome warplane in history, a quarter-billion-dollar-per-plane technological marvel that flies higher and faster than its opponents while avoiding detection by radar. The Pentagon is counting on a tiny number of the pricey Raptors — slightly more than 180 — to ward off potentially much larger numbers of enemy planes for the foreseeable future. Every mock dogfight the F-22 loses undermines the Pentagon’s plans for air dominance.

Plus, the French still have a totally undeserved reputation in non-French military circles for battlefield incompetence — one based mostly on a bad reading of World War II history. That a French pilot could defeat an F-22 speaks volumes about the Raptor’s limitations … and about French air-combat prowess seven decades after Paris’ surrender to Nazi Germany.

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