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  • Two American AWACs planes cruise two  hundred miles off the Chinese coast,  

  • blasting a significant portion of the hostile  coastline with radar and feeding that information  

  • to American combat assets in the air all  across the South China Sea. For the Chinese,  

  • they are a critical target that must be eliminated  ASAP. For the Americans, who have no ground-based  

  • installations to fall back on, they are  vital resources to be protected at all costs.

  • Whether the two big birds live or die in  the coming moments might just determine  

  • who reigns supreme in the  skies over China's coastline.

  • A flight of Chinese J-15s scream towards the  American planes, armed with long-range missiles  

  • they only need to get to within 150 or so miles  to down their targets. The Chinese fighters have  

  • taken off from military airfields on Hainan  island, hastily repaired after the initial  

  • American strike against military bases all across  Southern China's coast by US Navy submarines  

  • utilizing tomahawk cruise missiles. While  not fully operational, the air fields are  

  • able to launch several sorties a day- enough to  threaten the all-important American AWACs planes.

  • Now the Eight J-15s scream at full afterburner  towards their targets. US strikes weren't able  

  • to disable all of China's ground-based radar  capabilities, and the systems the People's  

  • Liberation Air Force still has operational tell  the J-15 pilots that the big birds are currently  

  • alone. None of the veteran pilots are fooled  though, the AWACS won't be alone for long.

  • The US Air Force has been operating from airfields  in the Philippines, which China has been hesitant  

  • to strike at out of fear of driving the  Philippines from a passive ally of the US,  

  • to a fully combat-committed one. Somewhere  near the AWACS, Chinese long range radar now  

  • picks up a small flight of US Air Force  F-15s, likely there to provide cover  

  • for the vulnerable planes. The Chinese jets  aren't looking for a dogfight, they hope to  

  • get to within long-range striking distance and  down the AWACs before the F-15s can respond.

  • To accomplish this the planes first fly east, away  from their targets, then loop around to the south  

  • before turning north on the AWAC'S six o'clocksan unexpected attack vector. The F-15s which  

  • have been expecting an attack from the east are  completely out of position to defend the AWACs,  

  • despite being vectored in on the  approaching J-15s. The big, slow,  

  • and extremely vulnerable American  Airborne Warning and Control planes  

  • are easy pickings as the Chinese  jets cruise towards firing range.

  • Suddenly, four of the J-15s receive missile lock  warnings. The pilots scan the horizon wildly as  

  • their onboard alerting systems work out range  and heading. There- 3'oclock, thirty five miles  

  • out and closing extremely rapidly- American AIM  120 Amraams. The J-15s dump flares and chaff,  

  • breaking off their attack to outmaneuver  the incoming missiles. This however means  

  • turning away from the incoming missiles  and from their current direction of travel,  

  • which bleeds large amounts of airspeed  which must be very quickly made up.  

  • The other Chinese pilots panic brieflythey know of only one plane that could  

  • have remained undetected on radar long  enough to ambush them- the American F-22.

  • A hundred miles away, four American F-22 Raptors  supercruise at over twice the speed of sound.  

  • Had the J-15's been pointed in their directiontheir front-facing radar may have briefly detected  

  • the presence of the F-22s by the opening of  their weapon bays. Even so, the brief contact  

  • may not even have been enough to alert the Chinese  pilots they were being targeted and under fire.

  • Given the AIM 120's kill rate of around  30% against actively defending aircraft,  

  • each F-22 has launched  three missiles at each bird,  

  • with a second volley targeting the  remaining 4 J-15s just seconds later.

  • The Chinese formation is in chaos, as the  second group of J-15s realize they've been  

  • targeted as well. The planes dive to put  on airspeed as they dump flares and chaff-  

  • most of the American missiles explode harmlessly  into the decoys- but many don't, and six J-15  

  • pilots are forced to eject. The other two break  off the attack and decide to cut their losses.

  • The American F-22s have accomplished  their mission, but suddenly their  

  • powerful long-range radars detect the  unmistakable ping of a stealth aircraft  

  • opening its weapons bay doors to fire. The  F-22 computers immediately recognize the few  

  • seconds of the return signal as a Chinese  J-20 stealth fighter- and the Raptors with  

  • their 6 medium-range missile capacity per  plane are completely spent on AIM 120s.

  • China has its own answer to the F-22, largely  due to its espionage of American military  

  • secrets. Head-on as they are  currently approaching the F-22s,  

  • the J-20's stealth is less effective than the  Americans, but more than good enough to make  

  • long-range targeting impossible if not incredibly  difficult. Picking up on the F-22's own firing,  

  • and thus breach of their stealth capabilitiesthe J-20s have fired their own long-range  

  • missiles in the direction of the last  radar contact with the American planes.  

  • The missiles cannot hope to lock on to the F-22s  at such long range, but once they come within  

  • thirty to twenty miles, their on-board radar  could pose serious risks to the American F-22s.

  • The American pilots face a tough choice. They  only have two short-range AIM 9X missiles each,  

  • only usable when within a few dozen miles of  their target. Meanwhile, the Chinese missiles are  

  • screaming across the sky towards them. Turning and  running would mean the loss of a lot of airspeed,  

  • and potentially allow the missiles to catch  up. Plus, while far better than the J-20's, the  

  • F-22's rear radar cross section is far worse than  its front, and would make them easier targets.

  • The F-22s decide to execute a hard  ninety degree turn. Unlike the J-15s,  

  • they have the advantage of long-range detection  of the hostile J-20's missile launches,  

  • and while the maneuver bleeds off precious air  speed, there's plenty of time to regain it. Plus,  

  • the incoming missiles can't match the  extremely tight turn rate of the F-22  

  • with its thrust-vectoring engines, and must make  a much wider turn, bleeding off its own airspeed.

  • The turn is successful, and the Chinese missiles  tumble harmlessly out of the sky, their airspeed  

  • completely exhausted. However, the turn has also  presented the F-22's three and nine o'clock to the  

  • incoming J-20s, and these are the least stealthy  angles of the large American fighter. With plenty  

  • of radar-reflective surfaces exposed to the  long-range radar of the J-20s, there's little  

  • the radar-absorbent features of the aircraft's  skin can do to prevent a good lock by the Chinese.

  • As the J-20s move in for the  kill on the helpless F-22s,  

  • the Chinese pilots stare incredulously at  a loudly squawking missile lock warning.  

  • More American AIM 120s are incoming, tearing  through the air at 2500 miles an hour.

  • Lurking behind the first flight of  Raptors, is a second 4-bird flight,  

  • who have just released on the Chinese planesWith the J-20s moving their forward-facing  

  • radar off-axis, they never had a chance  to detect the second flight of Raptors.

  • The J-20s may be cheap copies of the F-22,  but they are still a very stealthy plane,  

  • making it hard to get a good weapons lock on them  from long range. That's why while the Chinese and  

  • American fighters juked for supremacy, a US  Air Force RQ-170 Sentinel drone quietly snuck  

  • behind the Chinese formation. Now, the unmanned  drone activates its radar and blasts the Chinese  

  • stealth fighters, hitting the fighters in their  least stealthy angles. With its remote data link,  

  • the Sentinel sends targeting data  back to the second flight of F-22s,  

  • which feed that data directly to their own  nine AIM 120 missiles already in flight.

  • The American kill network is brutally effectiveand China's limited fleet of J-20s is reduced by  

  • another four. Three J-20s remain however, and the  Raptors boost towards the Chinese flight. Neither  

  • side has any long-range weapons remaining, but  each plane still carries two short-range missiles.  

  • At these ranges, the stealth characteristics  of both planes are largely ineffective,  

  • but the F-22's far greater maneuverability  and its superior engines proves dominant,  

  • especially with its ability to vector its  thrust. The J-20's canards allow it great  

  • agility as well, but its inferior  engines proves to be its downfall.

  • Two short-range missiles don't guarantee  a kill even in a dogfight however,  

  • which is why the American Raptors have  an onboard cannon. The J-20 does not, and  

  • within a few minutes, one American Raptor has been  downed, with the total loss of all Chinese J-20s.

  • The clash just a few dozen miles from  the Paracel islands has pulled much of  

  • the Chinese Air Force's remaining  air power in the area. So far,  

  • the war has been extremely expensive for both  sides in terms of aircraft lost, with hundreds  

  • downed on both the Chinese and American side. With  their superior technology and capabilities though,  

  • the American planes are enjoying a far greater  kill ratio- but it is not an easy victory.

  • Supercruising at 65,000 feet above sea  level, a third flight of F-22s now closes  

  • in on Hainan island and its remaining military  infrastructure. Head-on to incoming radar waves  

  • from the surviving Chinese radar installationsthe F-22s present their stealthiest side  

  • and won't be detectable until within a hundred or  so miles. Even then, the radar resolution will be  

  • so low that weapons lock won't be achievable  until the planes close to within thirty miles.

  • The F-22s don't need to get that closeArmed with two 1,000 pound glide bombs each,  

  • the F-22s open their weapons bay doors at just  under 200 miles and release their payloads.  

  • Chinese radar immediately picks up the distinct  ping of stealth aircraft firing, followed briefly  

  • by a large flash as the planes bank and turn away  from their targets, but due to their stealthy rear  

  • radar cross-sections, the island's air defenses  are completely confounded and can't respond.

  • Eight 1,000 pound bombs deploy small fins and  begin their satellite guided flight to their  

  • targets. The four remaining air-defense radars  on the island will receive two bombs each, and in  

  • just a few minutes the giant radars are smoldering  wrecks. With the loss of this last outer ring of  

  • defenses, China has effectively lost the ability  to monitor and respond to threats along a large  

  • section of the South China sea, leaving the US  and its allies with complete air superiority.  

  • For now, the Chinese Air Force will be forced to  fight a defensive war close to its own shores,  

  • where air defenses remain dense enough  to ward off even the stealthy F-22s.

  • At the absolute limits of their combat ranges  from airfields in the Philippines, the F-22s  

  • rendezvous with one of dozens of American  airborne tankers before returning to base.  

  • With the superior fighter, a larger  AWACS and airborne refueling fleet,  

  • and the world's most robust battle  management and data link capabilities,  

  • the US military has won the day, despite the high  costs of a war between these two military giants.

  • For now though, the F-22 continues to reign  supreme, unmatched by any other weapon in the sky

  • Want to find out how the mighty Raptor compares  to the Russian SU-35? Check out this video,  

  • US F-22 Raptor vs Russian SU-35 Fighter JetWho Would Win? Or click this other one instead!

Two American AWACs planes cruise two  hundred miles off the Chinese coast,  

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Why F-22 Raptor Still Reigns Supreme

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    Summer posted on 2020/10/10
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