Hey guys, I'm a high school and flight school student from Dirty Jersey in the US of A. Interested in learning about how Vipers and Raptors stick up against other people's air forces, and looking to join up with the USAF as a mechanic or pilot (even if it is a trash hauler).
Wazzup with you, Kaz? I also grew up in "Dirty Jersey". Short answer: Anything flown by US pilots stacks-up very well against other Air Forces. The Raptor is the most capable A-A platform in the world right now and will probably continue to be for a decade or more (if the pilots can breathe, of course). The Viper is still one of the Top-5 multi-role jets in the world, arguably in the Top-3...not bad for a jet about to be 40. I'm sure there are a ton of guys on here that will argue it's only second to the F-35 and it's hard to discount their reasons for saying so. In short, both of those jets are outstanding.
Looking to join-up as a mech and a pilot are two totally different things, my man. You can enlist and bend a wrench to work your way through school and then try for your commission or go to college first and try to go straight into the cockpit. Either way: Stay out of trouble with the law (no drugs, no under-age drinking arrests, no DUI's), take your education seriously (your GPA in HS and college WILL count when you try to make this stuff happen)...slackers get shown the door, and stay focused. It is easy (especially in college) to get distracted and wander off into another (easier) career path. If you really want to fly in the military (heavy's or fighters...either one is a tough road) you have to keep sight of that goal and make decisions that help you get there. Such as: choosing a college that typically sends a lot of guys to pilot training, choosing a major that will make you attractive to the recruiters, get involved with activities that pilot recruiters like (sports) and do your research. Why do you want USAF? (they'll ask) Would you take a slot in the Navy? Army? If so, why? If not, why not? Do your research.
Lastly, Kaz, if you work hard and stay focused, you can do this. I know from experience that it's a long, hard road to get to that fighter cockpit, but it is worth it times 10, I promise. It is an experience that very, very few get lucky enough to have. Keep pressing, Bro and good luck.