U.S. Air Force teaming F-22s with F-35s to maximise their 5th Generation capabilities

Nov 18 2014 - 15 Comments

U.S. Air Force is starting to integrate its F-35s and F-22s to improve fifth-generation tactics.

Four F-22 Raptors belonging to the the 94th Fighter Squadron, from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, deployed to Eglin Air Force Base, Florida to conduct joint training with the local-based F-35A Lightning IIs from the 58th Fighter Squadron.

The joint training was aimed at improving integration between the two most advanced radar-evading planes in service with the U.S. Air Force: flying mixed formations, the F-22s and F-35s flew OCA (offensive counter air), DCA (defensive counter air) and interdiction missions, maximizing the capabilities provided by operating two fifth-generation platforms together.

“The missions started with basic air-to-air and surface attacks,” said Maj. Steven Frodsham, F-22 pilot and 149th Fighter Squadron, Virginia Air National Guard in an Air Force press release. “As the training progressed, the missions developed into more advanced escort and defensive counter air fifth-generation integration missions.”

Fifth-generation capabilities had their combat debut with the F-22 in the air-to-ground role during the early stages of Operation Inherent Resolve, against ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria. The successful baptism of fire reaffirmed the pivotal role played by stealth technologies and sensor fusion capabilities, brought together by 5th Gen. warplanes, in current scenarios.

Earlier this year Chief of U.S. Air Force Air Combat Command Gen. Michael Hostage said the F-35 is what USAF needs to keep up with the adversaries but the F-22 Raptor will have to support the Joint Strike Fighter even though its service life extension and modernisation plan will cost a lot. Because, as he explained: “If I do not keep that F-22 fleet viable, the F-35 fleet frankly will be irrelevant. The F-35 is not built as an air superiority platform. It needs the F-22.

That’s why the U.S. Air Force has already started to team Joint Strike Fighters with Raptors.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force


  • anon

    More like covering for the F35s lack of ability’s..

  • peter

    for countries that’s only buying the F35, where does this leave them.. ex – RAAF

  • at least these planes are seeing some kind of action but I would hardly call it a baptism by fire.

  • tim robinson

    That is one FUKEN hot pic!

  • Advan

    If the F35 isn’t an air superiority platform, then why are we using them to provide CAP on carriers?

    • James Williams

      I completely agree why are they shoveling this aircraft to the Navy without a gun by the way to provide naval combat air patrol it just doesn’t make any damn sense

      • Praetorianx

        The F-35 is not replacing the Super Hornet, It’s just replacing the legacy F-18C’s.
        The Super Hornet can still run the CAP mission. The F-35 also can use a gun pod if necessary, and the pod is stealthy.

    • Holygigidy

      The Carrier F-35 is likely going to be paired with the UCLASS stealth drone that is also undergoing carrier testing.

      Rumor is the F-35 will integrate and directly control the UCLASS and basically use it as a missile truck that acts as an extension of the F-35’s own internal weapons bay. The F-35 isn’t bad at air-to-air combat, its just bad at dogfighting. Only reason to ever dogfight in a 5th gen fighter is if you have run out of missiles and can’t run away, especially when you have DAS and the ability to target anything, passively or actively, in any conceivable direction and against an almost unlimited number of targets simultaneously. You can be right on the 6 of an F-35 and it can still target and fire a missile at you. Pairing with the UCLASS eliminates the F-35’s only real limitation, which is ordinance bay size while remaining stealthy. Think of how powerful a single F-35 becomes if it can carry 20+ AA missiles in addition to its normal bomb payload. Oh, and the UCLASS will be capable of refueling duties as well. People need to start thinking outside the box with the F-35, its going to completely change how air power is used

  • Ed

    “If I do not keep that F-22 fleet viable, the F-35 fleet frankly will be irrelevant. The F-35 is not built as an air superiority platform. It needs the F-22.”

    So… What does this say about foreign F-35 fleets?

  • Krincingwesi

    Yeah, since when you built a war bird (A-series) based on non-superiority platform? Only time will tell

  • Business traveller

    RAAF has also bought new Superhornets and Growlers

  • itsmefool

    Remember, folks, the JSF hasn’t even fired its gun yet…those tests won’t take place until late 1Q 2015 (just the Alpha model; the B and C pods are still in development)!

  • Jacob413

    The F-35 has way more capability then people know…all people know is the political side of things, not the capability side of things. I promise, this is one amazing vehicle capable of wreaking havoc. BUT, combined with the F-22, there is simply no chance for the enemy. The F-35 was built from the beginning to be a best all around aircraft, not simply air superiority. Its sensor fusion allows it to work in sequence with other friendly aircraft to where the F-35 does not necessarily have to engage the enemy itself, but does not take away from the capability of the F-35 to engage the enemy itself in a dogfight. People know that the F-35 does not have true thrust vectoring, but all i can say is that a certain technology that produces wing flex gives the craft some very capable maneuverability.

  • Ed

    Yeah, I suppose that could be – or perhaps as a first step to try to get the F-22 upgrades that were canceled a while ago. Also a good point that many foreign air forces do have air superiority fighters too. However, I can imagine really sucks to hear for the small air forces, that will rely fully on the F-35. It basically says that their fleets are irrelevant without allies, even if they have this fancy jet… There may of course be some truth in that today already, but I’m sure nobody wants to hear it, at least. ;)

  • Hkinsey3

    Every time I get more info on the F-35 I wonder how in the world we ended up with this can’t-do-much-of-anything-well committee designed Frankenstein of an aircraft. Then again I always wondered why we ended up with the F-22 instead of the F-23.