The F-22 and F-35 are both multi-role fighters that have revolutionized the power of aircraft design and technology.
The F-22 is the epitome of air dominance and unparalleled in its design and capabilities.
Though also a formidable aircraft, the primary purpose of the F-35 is to update and replace aging models of fighter planes to ensure a strong and mission-ready fleet.
Though these aircraft share similarities, here are the top 10 differences between the F-22 and F-35.
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Table of Contents
#1. Aircraft Mission
The Air Force’s F-22 Raptor entered full-rate production in 2005, after 14 years of test and development.
This fighter aircraft was previously unmatched by any existing aircraft models.
It performs air-to-air and air-to-ground missions, and fully realizes the operational concepts that are essential for modern war-fighting capabilities.
These capabilities include:
- Integrated avionics
- Enhanced supportability
The F-22 is designed for air dominance and rapid response, to cover massive distances and defeat threats that attempt to deny access to or impair U.S. Armed Forces.
In addition, the F-22 is an integral part of the Global Strike Task Force.
The F-35A is the U.S. Air Force’s recent fifth-generation fighter.
Its mission, like the F-22, is also to reduce vulnerability for U.S. and allied nations’ forces.
The Air Force’s fleet of F-16 and A-10 aircraft has aged, and the F-35A will replace these models as its primary fighter aircraft.
Its enhanced capabilities include:
- Aerodynamic performance
- Advanced integrated avionics
- Next-generation stealth
- Improved situational awareness
The Air Force announced its first active squadron of F-35A aircraft in 2016. This advanced fighter will provide a stronger operational force in response to any advanced threat environment or conditions.
#2. Speed, Range, Thrust, Ceiling
The F-22 Raptor’s speed is Mach two class.
It also has supercruise capability due to the combination of its aerodynamic design and increased thrust.
Supercruise refers to the way the F-22 can cruise at supersonic airspeeds (greater than 1.5 Mach) without using afterburner.
The F-22’s ability for supercruise expands its capacity for speed and range over current fighter aircraft that use fuel-consuming afterburner to operate at supersonic speed.
The F-22 has 35,000 pounds of thrust for each engine, more thrust than any current fighter engine, and a ceiling above 50,000 feet.
Its range is more than 1,850 miles ferry range, with two external fuel tanks (reaching 1,600 nautical miles).
The F-35A Lightning II has 43,000 pounds of thrust and reaches Mach 1.6 for speed.
The F-35 engine consists of:
- Three-stage fan
- Six-stage compressor
- Annular combustor
- Single-stage high-pressure turbine
- Two-stage low-pressure turbine
Like the F-22, the F-35 aircraft has a ceiling above 50,000 feet.
The F-35 has a range of over 1,350 miles with internal fuel (reaching over 1,200 nautical miles).
However, its range is unlimited with aerial refueling.
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#3. Aircraft Characteristics
The characteristics of both the F-35 and F-22 demonstrate the powerful strength and force of these aircraft, as well as their advanced designs.
The F-35 has a length of 51 feet and a height of 14 feet.
Its wingspan measures 35 feet.
The maximum takeoff weight for the F-35 is 70,000 pound class and its internal fuel capacity is 18,498 pounds.
The F-22, by comparison, is longer and taller than the F-35 and has a greater wingspan.
The F-22 measures 62 feet, 1 inch in length, and 16 feet, 8 inches in height.
Its wingspan measures 44 feet, 6 inches.
The F-22 weighs 43,340 pounds and has a maximum takeoff weight of 83,500 pounds.
The internal fuel capacity of the F-22 is 18,000 pounds with two external wing fuel tanks at 26,000 pounds.
Armament refers to military weapons and equipment.
F-22 aircraft armament features one M61A2 20mm cannon (480 rounds).
In addition, for air-to-air loadout, the F-22 armament can include:
- Two AIM-9 infrared air-to-air missiles (internal side weapon bays carriage)
- Six AIM-120 radar-guided air-to-air missiles (internal main weapon bays carriage)
Alternatively, for air-to-ground loadout, the F-22 armament can include two 1,000-pound GBU-32 JDAMs and two AIM-120 radar-guided air-to-air missiles.
The payload, or carrying capacity, of the F-22, is the same as air-to-air or air-to-ground armament loadouts.
This payload is with or without the two external wing fuel tanks.
Payload for the F-35 is 18,000 pounds.
F-35 aircraft have internal and external armament capabilities and can carry a variety of weapons.
The munitions carried by F-35s vary and are based on mission requirements.
The backgrounds of the F-22 and F-35 aircraft reflect advancements in technology as well as cutting-edge aerodynamic design and performance.
After testing the YF-22 and YF-23 prototypes of the Advanced Tactical Fighter in 1990, the YF-22 was considered the best of the two and selected for development.
In 1991, engineering and manufacturing efforts began.
Lockheed/Boeing received the contract for developing the airframe.
Pratt & Whitney received the contract for developing the engines.
The aircraft went through extensive testing at the subsystem, system, and flight levels beginning in 1997.
In 2001, approval was given to enter low-rate initial production.
Operational and test evaluation by the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center was completed in 2004, with approval for full-rate production in 2005.
Though the aircraft was designated as the F/A-22 briefly, it was renamed the F-22A in December 2005.
The primary Air Force organizations that fly the F-22 are Air Education and Training Command, Air Combat Command, and Pacific Air Forces.
The F-35 aircraft’s background began as a design to replace the inventory of aging fighters within the U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps.
Therefore, the multi-role F-35 fighter is intended to solve the problem of an aging fleet of tactical aircraft.
This is beneficial in that the F-35 features stealth and other cutting-edge technologies, making it an advanced fighter aircraft.
In late 2001, the decision was announced to proceed with the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program.
This brought the program to the System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase.
Lockheed Martin was teamed with Northrop Grumman and BAE to develop and produce JSF aircraft.
The goal of the SDD phase of the program was to:
- Develop strike aircraft to meet operational requirements and reduce life-cycle costs
- Enhance affordability, lethality, survivability, and supportability
- Implement phased integration of aircraft and weapons
- Provide validated and verified air system for initial operational capabilities
The backgrounds of both the F-22 and F-35 include vast developmental and research processes, as well as rigorous and extensive testing and evaluation methods.
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The aero-design of the F-22 aircraft is so sophisticated that it can out-maneuver all existing and projected aircraft.
Its superior maneuverability is a result of its design as well as the following features:
- Advanced flight controls
- Thrust vectoring
- High thrust-to-weight ratio
The F-22’s design was aerodynamically refined and rigorously tested during development for unprecedented maneuverability.
Though the F-35A is not at the level of maneuverability as the F-22, this aircraft is also agile and versatile.
The F-35A features conventional takeoff and landing, allowing it to fulfill multiple roles as a fighter aircraft at any time and location.
Its high-performance maneuverability is also enhanced by its superior capacity for situational awareness on the part of the pilot.
#7. Contractor, Power Plant (Engine), and Cost
Lockheed Martin and Boeing are the contractors for the F-22 aircraft.
Its power plant consists of two Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 turbofan engines with afterburners and two-dimensional thrust vectoring nozzles.
The unit cost of the F-22 is $143 million.
Lockheed Martin is also the contractor for the F-35 aircraft.
Its power plant consists of one Pratt & Whitney F135-PW-100 turbofan engine.
The unit cost of the F-35A is approximately $70 million.
However, the F-35B and F-35C variants will be more expensive and closer to $90 million in unit cost.
Both the F-22 and F-35 feature advantages that allow these aircraft to be dominant forces of the U.S. military and mission success.
Here are just some of the combined advantages of the F-22 that elevate its lethality against all advanced air threats:
- Integrated avionics
- Sensor capability
- Situational awareness
- Armament and weapons
F-22 pilots can track, identify, shoot, and kill air-to-air threats before detection due to the aircraft’s sophisticated sensor system.
In addition, the advanced cockpit design and sensor fusion enhance the pilot’s situational awareness.
These advantages minimize the ability of enemy forces to track and/or engage the F-22 and support its unsurpassed tactical capabilities for first-kill opportunities against threats.
The F-35 possesses advantages that make it a leader in defense and as a current and future fighting force.
These advantages include:
- Superior situational awareness
- Positive target identification in all weather conditions
- Precision strike capability in all weather conditions
- Mission systems integration
- Over-the-nose visibility
- Helmet-mounted display system (intelligence and target information displayed on pilot’s helmet visor)
The F-35 also has the advantage of secure data sharing and common communication capabilities with allied forces for coalition interoperability and mission success.
This is due to the aircraft’s cutting-edge tactical data links and advanced logistics support.
#9. Combat and Defense Roles
The capabilities of both the F-22 and F-35 in combat and defense roles are unprecedented.
The F-22 is unmatched in survivability and lethality against air-to-air and surface-to-air threats.
This is largely due to advanced stealth technology, allowing the F-22 to protect itself as well as other assets.
The F-22 aircraft has significant capabilities in attacking air and surface targets.
For air-to-air conflict, the F-22 carries six AIM-120 AMRAAMs and two AIM-9 Sidewinders.
For air-to-ground configuration, it can carry two 1,000-pound GBU-32 Joint Direct Attack Munitions internally.
On-board avionics offer support in terms of navigation and weapons delivery.
It’s also expected that the F-22 capabilities will be upgraded in the future for even more prowess in combat and defense roles.
The F-35 is considered indispensable in its combat and defense roles.
This aircraft’s advanced sensor package can gather, assimilate, and distribute unprecedented amounts of information.
Therefore, F-35 operators hold an advantage over adversaries unlike any other previous fighter.
This is enhanced as well by the aircraft’s processing power, design, sensors, and flexible communication links.
The Electro-Optical Distributed Aperture System gives pilots situational awareness for improved missile and aircraft warning as well as day and night pilot vision.
The internal mounting of the Electro-Optical Targeting System in the F-35 allows for extended-range detection of air-to-air and ground threats in addition to precise ground targeting.
Perhaps the most significant combat and defense roles of the F-35 are represented by its international cooperative use and Coalition partner security.
Therefore, the F-35 reduces costly and redundant research and development while improving access to technology among strategic international partnerships.
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#10. Reliability and Maintainability
It’s estimated that two-thirds of the life cycle cost of an aircraft is made up of logistics support.
Therefore, high levels of reliability and maintainability are essential for both the F-35 and F-22 aircraft.
The F-22 and F-35 are designed to have superior reliability and maintainability compared to any other fighter aircraft in history.
They require far less manpower to fix any issues in addition to operating more efficiently.
The F-35, in particular, features an Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) for cutting-edge information technology and support.
This system manages and integrates the aircraft’s operational performance with scheduled upgrades, maintenance, prognostics, and service support, among other monitoring and performance parameters.
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