When it comes to the F15 vs. F22, there is considerable debate over which USAF fighter aircraft is the most deadly.
The U.S. Air Force has utilized the F-15 Eagle for over 50 years.
Meanwhile, the F-22 Raptor was designed (along with the F-35) to replace the F-15 at the start of the century.
Since then, considerable discussion has existed among pilots, aviation experts, and military personnel over what air superiority fighter they prefer.
F15 vs F22? Learn more about each fighter jet in more detail with side-by-side comparisons.
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#1. History: F15 vs F22
Military aircraft like bombers and fighters influenced the result of World War II.
At first, aircraft fighters had only one role which was to attack the enemy.
However, by the end of the war, the military began to classify fighters between the purpose of serving as A) interceptors or B) air superiority.
Air superiority fighters are type of aircraft that can seize control of enemy airspace by establishing tactical dominance.
Consequently, an air superiority fighter like the F-15 is primarily designed to perform aerial combat while maintaining control of the airspace.
The McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle was developed and introduced in the 1970s.
Since then, it has carried on an incredible legacy that spans over 50 years.
The F-15 is widely regarded as one of the most successful of the modern fighter jets.
It currently features an impressive record of well over 100 victories and 0 defeats in aerial combat.
The Eagle fighter is also heavily used by the Israel, Japan, and Saudi Arabia military forces.
Later in the late-90s, the USAF Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) program developed the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightening to compete with the F-15.
The Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor features several other capabilities in addition to air-to-ground attack.
The stealth tactical fighter also features electronic warfare and signals intelligence capabilities.
Nevertheless, the F-22 does not carry near the tradition of the F-15 fighter.
The aircraft formally entered service in 2005 yet high production costs (more information, below) have clouded its reputation.
In fact, the USAF originally planned to purchased 750 F-22 fighters yet cut production to less than 200 because of high costs.
Despite it, the Air Force still relies on the F-22A for its advanced stealth and technology, along with aerodynamic performance.
#2. Manufacturer & Cost
Its hard to argue which fighter is the best when you consider they were both designed in entirely different eras.
The F-15 Eagle was a response of the Cold War while the F-22 was developed in a new century, with new methods of warfare.
Thus, both aircraft were designed with different philosophies (see #3 Purpose) and capabilities.
Still, the air superiority aircraft regularly operate in the air together which leads to plenty of opinions.
In fact, some people take a side in the debate based on the manufacturer.
The F-15 Eagle was developed by McDonnell Douglas during the Vietnam War when the Air Force was battling with the Navy for air dominance.
It’s sufficient to say McDonnell Douglas (which is now owned by Boeing Defense) did a spectacular job.
The F-15 first took flight in 1972 and is highly coveted by other nations seeking air superiority.
Furthermore, multiple variants of the F-15 have been produced since its original conception.
The F-22 Raptor, on the other hand, has 2 different manufacturers.
The primary contractor (Lockheed Martin) built most of the air frame and weapons system.
Lockheed Martin also conducted the final assembly while Boeing produced the wings, fuselage, and avionics integration.
The F-22 first took flight in 1997 and officially entered service many years later in 2005.
The delayed development did not serve the F-22 well along with extremely high production costs ($138 million).
The last F-22 was produced in 2012 with the USAF relying now on the more versatile and affordable F35 Lightening II.
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The Vietnam War was a military disaster in many regards including the lack of air dominance.
Second generation USAF fighters were unsuccessful removing a militant force composed of mostly farmers.
As a result, the Air Force designed these types of jets obsolete and began developing a new plan to achieve air superiority.
The F-15 Eagle was designed to achieve air superiority with a “smaller, lighter” design that makes the aircraft faster and more agile.
It’s flawless record in air combat is unrivaled with the ability to also defend from the ground (“air-to-ground”).
Meanwhile, the F-22 Raptor was introduced during a new era of warfare.
Military tactics became vastly different with the transition into the War on Terrorism with invasions in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Consequently, the Air Force was once again tasked with developing a modern fighter capable of handling a new set of problems and threats.
The F-22 is renown for being one of the stealthiest aircraft in the world.
The sophisticated weapon systems, signals intelligence, and high tech is unrivaled.
Nevertheless, there are some pilots that still prefer the F-15 over the F-22 in terms of speed, power, and maneuverability.
Still, the F-22 is extremely versatile as the fighter also presents advanced electronic warfare capabilities.
Furthermore, the Raptor is the first operational aircraft that combines super-cruise, super-maneuverability, stealth, and sensor fusion in a single weapons platform.
#4. Speed & Power
The discussion of what fighter reigns supreme between F15 vs F22 gets even more complicated when you consider the specifications.
For starters, the speed and power is impressive with both USAF fighter jets.
The F-15 Eagle reaches a max speed of Mach 2.5 which is slightly higher than the F-22 (Mach 2.25).
Nevertheless, both Air Force fighters venture in speeds between 920 – 1,650 mph.
Additionally, the service ceiling (65,000 ft.) is the same for both aircraft.
Furthermore, the F15 vs F22 is nearly equal in terms of G limits (+9) along with thrust/weight (1.07-1.08).
The F-15 Eagle features a rate of climb of 67,050 feet per minute.
Ultimately, both USAF fighters are lethal with unprecedented power that ranges from Mach 2.5 (high altitude) to Mach 1.2 (sea-level).
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#5. F15 vs F22: Characteristics
The characteristics of the F15 vs F22 are another topic of conversation.
Pilots enjoy debating over the small details of both aircraft including the height, length, and wingspan.
The F-15 features dimensions of 18 ft 6 in (H) x 63 ft 9 in (L).
Meanwhile, the F-22A aircraft has dimensions of 16 ft 8 in (H) x 44 ft 6 in (L).
For this reason, the F-22 Raptor is considerably more compact despite a longer wingspan (44 ft 6 in compared to 42 ft 10 in).
The design makes sense considering the Raptor ranks among the most stealthy fighters.
Despite the differences, both aircraft are only operated by a single crew member (the pilot).
The other characteristics that separate the F-15 and F-22 are differences in avionics and armament.
The F-15 and F-22 fighters are arranged with different weapon systems to maintain air superiority.
Thus, the armament is different even if both jets can handle air or ground combat.
The F-15 Eagle features the following armament (weapons and supplies):
- M-61A1 Cannon
- AIM-9 Sidewinder (4x)
- AIM-120 AMRAAM (4x)
- AIM-120 AMRAAM (8x)
On the other hand, the F-22 Raptor is equipped with the following armament:
- M61A2 Cannon
- AIM-9 (2x)
- AIM-120 (6x)
- GBU-32 (2x)
The 6-barrel M61A1 Vulcan cannon on the F-15 unleashes 940 rounds of fire.
Its amount of rounds is considerably higher than the 480 available on the M61A2 rotary cannon.
Nevertheless, pilots in both aircraft are well protected thanks to the air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons.
The AIM weapons are internal and external systems planted across various spots on both aircraft.
They enable pilots of F-22 and F-15 fighters to maintain control over airspace.
Lastly, the F-15 and F-22 jets both feature drop tanks for multi-purpose use along with the guns and missiles.
These armaments ensure that Air Force personnel are well armed in some of the most dangerous fighters on earth.
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There is little doubt that the F-22 Raptor and F-15 Eagle are deadly with the speed and armaments, but what about maneuverability?
It’s where the debate between F15 vs F22 gets interesting.
For example, there are many “old-school” pilots that are adamant the F-15 is supreme in terms of agility and maneuverability.
There is no question the F-15 revolutionized modern fighters largely because of its aerial capabilities.
It’s hard to argue with a jet that is undefeated in the air and desired by every other air force in the world.
The F-15 was designated to get replaced by the F-22 and F-35 in the 21st century.
Despite it, the F-15 continues to serve a role in the military branch making it favored among many noteworthy pilots.
However, the reputation of the F-22 Raptor is primarily lofty given its advanced avionics and tech gadgets.
In fact, many consider the F-22 the best fighter if you are looking for stealth and signals intelligence.
The F-22 features multiple ways to defend itself while offering aerial supremacy.
Regardless, the delayed development and high cost as arguably made the F-22 irrelevant, especially compared to the F-35 in the modern era.
Still, it’s utilized by the USAF which features an advanced aviation program that rivals the U.S. Navy.
#8. F15 vs F22: Advantages & Disadvantages
The United States Air Force created the F-15 when it was competing with the Navy for new innovations during Vietnam.
Upon its conception, the F-15 was widely considered the most elite aircraft in the world.
Before that time, it was rare to find a fighter was as fast and versatile as the F-15.
Additionally, the advanced weapon systems made the F-15 terrific in air-to-air or air-to-ground combat.
Nevertheless, the U.S. Air Force determined to slowly fade out the F-15 with the F-22 and F-35.
However, not everything has went to plan.
The production costs for the F-22 have been outrageous and there are many that believe its performance suffers against the F-35.
Regardless, the F-22 Raptor is still exceptionally versatile and rivals the F-15 with many specs.
Mike “Dozer” Shower, a former USAF pilot that also graduated top of his class, shared his thoughts on the F15 vs F22 debate.
Dozer has operated the F-15 Eagle and in the early-90s considered it the best aircraft in the world.
“It flew high, had a big radar, but it was the weapons and training and sensor that made it.”
#9. Combat & Defense
The F-15 Eagle and F-22 Raptor belong to different generations of aircraft.
Be that as it may, the 2 fighters have served alongside each other on several occasions.
In fact, the F-15 and F-22 were both important to Operation Iraqi Freedom and the United States invasion of Afghanistan.
The Air Force has primarily used the F-22 as an “interceptor”.
In other words, the USAF fighter is there to greet uninvited guests that travel into friendly airspace.
The stealthy F-22 Raptor is undetectable by Russian airborne radars and among the most advanced fighters in the world.
In fact, the U.S. Congress placed a ban on the export of the F-22 which prevents the design from falling into the hands of the enemy.
Instead, the Department of Defense (DoD) offers the F-35 to foreign allies.
Both the F-15 and F-22 feature an expansive combat range.
The F-15 Eagle is capable of serving a combat range of 1,220 miles.
Meanwhile, the F-22 Raptor reaches a combat range of 530 miles.
While the F-22 may be more technologically advanced (due to when it was developed) – both fighters are absolutely deadly.
It’s why both fighters remain active in Air Force operations even if warfare has shifted to drone warfare.
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#10. Reliability & Maintainability
It’s difficult to compare F15 vs F22 in terms of reliability since the F-22 is a modern conception.
Lockheed Martin initially began development in the late-90s and the F-22 didn’t officially enter service until 2005.
Consequently, it’s hard to compare the reputation of 2 fighters with vastly different histories.
There are few that can ignore that the F-15 Eagle has been reliable for a half-century.
The F-15 completely revolutionized air superiority aircraft and has been imitated ever since.
The aircraft remains relevant many decades after its conception proving its versatility.
It has contributed to the F-15 ranking in history with other classic fighters like the F-4 and F-86.
Unfortunately, the F-22 cannot brag about the same reputation.
The last Raptor was produced in 2012 even though a couple hundred remain in operation.
However, despite being withdrawn from production, many pilots consider the fighter dependable.
Pilots generally side with the aircraft they operated which is not all that surprising.
F-15 pilots rave about the historic reputation and aerial combat of the fighter.
Meanwhile, F-22 pilots like to emphasize how the modern fighter is technologically superior and excellent in stealth missions.
Conclusion: F15 vs F22 – Which Fighter is Superior?
What fighter do you pick in the debate between F15 vs F22?
There is plenty to appreciate about both aircraft fighters.
The 2 fighters are roughly the same size and speed with comparable combat capabilities.
However, the F-22 Raptor is much more modern with advanced technology and avionics.
The F-22 serves in stealth operations while the F-15 Eagle remains practical a half-century after its conception.
And, of course, it’s hard to ignore that the F-15 remains faster at top speed even though it was developed nearly 50 years earlier.
Thus, the debate between F15 vs F22 rages on along with another recent creation of the USAF, the F-35 Lightening.