PAK FA will "remove the advantage held for decades"

Anything goes, as long as it is about the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor
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pants3204

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Unread post14 Jun 2012, 17:25

http://www.ausairpower.net/APA-2010-01.html

I know I know it's authored by Kopp and hosted by ausairpower, but what actually are the inaccuracies in this writeup? I realize there is a lot of speculation and reading off of brochures, but there is also quite a bit of technical overview of the aircraft.

What do you think?

Once the PAK-FA is deployed within a theatre of operations, especially if it is supported robustly by counter-VLO capable ISR systems, the United States will no longer have the capability to rapidly impose air superiority, or possibly even achieve air superiority. This will not only deny the United States access to an opponent's defended airspace, it also presents the prospect of United States forces being unable to reliably defend in-theatre basing and lines of resupply. Should this occur, in-theatre basing and surface assets become exposed to air attack by aircraft armed with a wide range of accurate and highly lethal Precision Guided Munitions, with the potential for very high loss of life and equipment deployed in-theatre.
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Unread post14 Jun 2012, 17:55

Well you could start with another thread on here where 2 of the 3 flying examples of the PAK-FA are grounded due to significant cracking and the 4th is undergoing significant structural modifications. Or you could go with Kopp over looking very capable air defence systems in US and allied inventories. Or you could go with the fact that currently the compresser blades can be seen through the inlets, meaning it is in no was an LO aircraft that could sneak past allied air defense. Or you could go with the lack of evidence that Russian EW and other electronics/software have come close to parity with the US and allied militaries. Or you could go with Kopp is still sour that his F-111 are burried in the ground and the RAAF is never going to own an F-22 so he is trying to scare people into listening to him. Or you could go with something else, but those are my thoughts off the top of my head.

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Unread post14 Jun 2012, 18:07

sufaviper wrote:Well you could start with another thread on here where 2 of the 3 flying examples of the PAK-FA are grounded due to significant cracking and the 4th is undergoing significant structural modifications. Or you could go with Kopp over looking very capable air defence systems in US and allied inventories. Or you could go with the fact that currently the compresser blades can be seen through the inlets, meaning it is in no was an LO aircraft that could sneak past allied air defense. Or you could go with the lack of evidence that Russian EW and other electronics/software have come close to parity with the US and allied militaries. Or you could go with Kopp is still sour that his F-111 are burried in the ground and the RAAF is never going to own an F-22 so he is trying to scare people into listening to him. Or you could go with something else, but those are my thoughts off the top of my head.

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Unread post14 Jun 2012, 20:10

I actually wholeheartedly agree with him that the Raptor would have been ideal for Australia, but the whole T-50 thing is just fear-mongering. I'm sorry, the thing is nowhere near combat-ready, and gives no indication of IOC before 2020.
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Unread post14 Jun 2012, 20:26

Am I one of the few who doesn't think that the Raptor is at all suitable for Australia's needs? And we aren't talking about some fantasy Super Raptor with all sorts of A2G capabilities that have never been funded, integrated, or promised, but the current, USAF standard, GBU-32 and SDB Dropping F-22A Raptor.

The F-22 is, for almost all intents and purposes, a very single use platform. Yes it can carry out strikes with a very limited array of weapons, but when compared to the F-11s that Australia is losing, the F-22 would be a HUGE step backwards in strike capabilities. While the F-35 may be a step backwards in terms of range and speed at low level, I struggle to find an area in which the F-22 would be a superior F-35 replacement. In the perfect world of unlimited defense spending, it would be nice to have a huge fleet of the dedicated asset that is best in its field, but that just isn't feasible anymore.


As for the PAK-FA, until Russia demonstrates an ability to produce the aircraft in significant quantities, with suitable propulsion and avionics systems, and without the structural issues described thus far, and once they actually procure some of the more advanced wares they have been selling for decades (AA-12 comes to mind) then we will need to take a more serious look at the threat it poses. As of now, it has yet to demonstrate world-beating anything, unless world-beating ability to get Kopp fired up counts for anything in a modern battlefield.
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Unread post14 Jun 2012, 20:36

I love how often they sprinkle their claims with "analysis shows...", including a few descriptions of their analysis or "observations" as "detailed", along with variations of the word "strategy" like "strategic". There's even a sentence starting with "Detailed strategic analysis indicates that the only viable strategic survival strategy...". :D It's like they got some advice in how to talk like an expert from a twelve-year-old.

OK, on to the meat of the article's claims... it's very long and there are problems like this with practically every single sentence, so I don't think there's any way I'll have the patience to go through it picking out every single one to the bitter end, but I'll at least get started so you can see how it's going and then just picture what a complete response would look like...

The emergence of the Russian Sukhoi PAK-FA marks the end of the United States' quarter century long monopoly on the design of Very Low Observable (VLO) or stealth aircraft
The Russians have published the plane's expected radar cross section, and although it's lower than that of a plane in which no effort at radar signature reduction has been made at all, it's still many times as high as those of the latest American planes. It's more like what happens if you take an originally non-stealthy design and try to reduce its signature as much as you can from that starting point, like with the Superhornet and Lancer, and those are not "stealth" planes. Also, there has been no mention of signature reduction efforts in the infra-red spectrum for the PAK-FA, whereas American stealth planes do have infra-red signal reduction measures.

The capabilities of the PAK-FA make a clear statement defining the Russian view of Within-Visual-Range (WVR) and Beyond-Visual-Range (BVR) air combat
What capabilities? They've been seen doing practically nothing so far. We're trying to infer stuff from photographs & videos, plus Russia's recent record in aircraft engineering, not actual specifications or mature test flight results. The leap in abilities that's being ascribed to it over its predecessors here is not warranted based on how Russia's technology seems to have been developing before, and in some cases boils down to no more than "it sort-of looks like a Raptor so let's presume it will be the same as the Raptor".

The Russian paradigm is clearly centred on the idea that BVR and WVR combat are much alike, insofar as during the engagement endgame the fighter under attack is within tracking range of the weapon fire control system and where possible the weapon or fire control element should be defeated kinematically.
In other words, the article is saying that the Russians believe that once a plane has been targeted, its only remaining defense is to try to maneuver out of the crosshairs or dodge the missile/bullets. That's true enough, but the way it's stated here neglects the primary importance of avoiding being targeted in the first place and falsely implies that American engineers have paid no attention to maneuvering.

the PAK-FA shares all of the key fifth generation attributes until now unique to the F-22 - stealth, supersonic cruise, thrust vectoring, highly integrated avionics and a powerful suite of active and passive sensors
I've already commented on stealth. Supercruise and thrust vectoring weren't unique to F-22 at all. Several other fighters out right now can supercruise (although not as fast as an F-22), as have some other past military and civilian planes, and the Russians themselves have experience with thrust vectoring. As for the "highly integrated avionics", again, how do the authors know that? Because it looks "highly integrated" in satellite pictures of the shadows in the cockpit? Again, what's known of Russian avionics from their previous planes does not indicate that they're likely to suddenly be on par with the latest American technology now. And just what makes this "powerful suite" of sensors more powerful than they are in other planes that already have sensors of similar types? That whole sentence was a mash of stuff that's just plain made up, stuff that's false, and stuff that indicates a peculair depth of ignorance about even the basics of recent combat aircraft technology.

it has two further attributes absent in the extant F-22 design. The first is extreme agility, resulting from advanced aerodynamic design, exceptional thrust/weight ratio performance and three dimensional thrust vectoring integrated with an advanced digital flight control system.
A claim that F-22 doesn't have "extreme agility" is absurd. People in other fighters flying with Raptors (not necessarily in combat simulations, where they wouldn't usually even get close enough for this) have repeatedly reported that the Raptors danced all around them to such an extent that they felt like they were just being played with. But this list of the factors that are supposed to be behind it gets even more absurd. Advanced aerodynamic design? The Russian design is a copy of the Raptor, so where are its great advancements over what they're copying? (It is a bit more squashed in the fore-aft axis so its forward edges are less swept, but that's just different, not more "advanced".) Exceptional thrust-to-weight ratio from a bigger, heavier plane driven by engines with less thrust, even using the promised future engines that aren't ready yet? And that bit at the end might be the most absurd of all. The Raptor is the plane in which the thrust vectoring is integrated with the rest of the flight control system; the pilot doesn't think about whether he's using the thrust vectoring or not but just moves the stick, the same way he moves the flaps & fins. Russian thrust vectoring systems are the ones in which the thrust vectoring is operated by separate switches, not integrated. They got this exactly backward.

One thing in there that I will grant them is Russian thrust vectoring being "three-dimensional" instead of "two-dimensional". But that only means it can be applied to a roll (or even yaw, although that would be insane) as well as pitch, and that's a negligible difference which makes the mechanism slightly heavier & more complicated and conflicts with stealth.

The second attribute is exceptional combat persistence, the result of a 25,000 lb internal fuel load.
A not-very-much larger fuel load for a plane that's bound to be less fuel-efficient because it's heavier and draggier (due to both its size and its lower leading-edge sweep) might indeed give it more range/persistence, but only marginally so, and maybe not at all.

Russia intends to operate at least two hundred PAK-FAs, India two hundred and fifty of the Indian Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) variant, with global PAK-FA exports likely to add at least 500 more tails to the production tally.
At the equivalent stage in F-22 development, USAF intended to get around 600-700, and USN was planning a version that could work from a carrier. Cutbacks happen. But even if these numbers remain the same and do get produced, they'd have to be compared to our total stealth plane fleet, not just Raptors. By that time, that will include F-35s, and that doesn't even count drones or bombers.

And as long as we're looking at overall effects on war-fighting ability instead of just plane versus plane, we also have to consider maintenance and supplies, and this is an area in which Russian planes have lagged and nobody's even making a single claim about this one being any improvement. For example, a similarly-powered Russian engine has less than half the life span of its American counterpart and burns more fuel, thus forcing its operators to build more engines, stock more spare parts, and deliver more fuel.

Initial analysis of PAK-FA imagery and public disclosures by the Russian government and Sukhoi bureau indicate that a production PAK-FA will yield greater aerodynamic and kinematic performance to the current F-22A design
Not at all. We know that it's heavier, has been promised engines that are weaker, and has actually been flying with engines that are weaker than promised. That will limit not only speed and acceleration and the engines' contribution to turning rates, but also its maximum altitude. We also know what to expect from leading edges that are less swept: they can deflect air up or down more but slice through it less, so the slight gain in lift or turning speed comes with a loss in speed and fuel efficiency. If they've got some rational way to assert that PAK-FA should be expected to fly better than F-22overall, it defies all aeronautic experience, and it's up to them to explain it. Otherwise, at best, it represents only a slight emphasis of turning ability over speed/acceleration and altitude, which history says is betting on the wrong horse. And really, for the amount of time the authors dwell on the issue of "kinematics" and maneuverability, how much does it matter? Opponents of F-22 in combat exercises don't even get close enough to experience its advantages in maneuverability or acceleration or speed, unless the game has special rules to make that happen; otherwise they just get shot down by an opponent they never even see, and that's due to the issues of stealth and sensors, which this article's authors conspicuously just drop like a hot potato.

Stopping there and backing up to the "abstract" at the beginning, I spotted a couple of big fat lies just at a glance: that it's going to be in production next year and IOC by 2015 (which is so ludicrous I'd think must be a joke if it had come from any other source), that the promised engines it doesn't have yet are to have 35-40 thousand pounds of thrust (it's actually 32, and they've been flying with less than 31 because those aren't ready, compared to 35 for Raptors), and that even if it were a match for or better than F-22, it would render all other planes "strategically irrelevant". (All it would take to make those other planes useful would be to have the Raptors tie up the PAK-FAs and keep them busy and distracted from them. After all, bombers and cargo planes don't become "irrelevant" just because none of them are any match for a fighter in an aerial fight.)
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Unread post14 Jun 2012, 21:41

pants3204 wrote:http://www.ausairpower.net/APA-2010-01.html

I know I know it's authored by Kopp and hosted by ausairpower, but what actually are the inaccuracies in this writeup? I realize there is a lot of speculation and reading off of brochures, but there is also quite a bit of technical overview of the aircraft.

What do you think?

Once the PAK-FA is deployed within a theatre of operations, especially if it is supported robustly by counter-VLO capable ISR systems, the United States will no longer have the capability to rapidly impose air superiority, or possibly even achieve air superiority. This will not only deny the United States access to an opponent's defended airspace, it also presents the prospect of United States forces being unable to reliably defend in-theatre basing and lines of resupply. Should this occur, in-theatre basing and surface assets become exposed to air attack by aircraft armed with a wide range of accurate and highly lethal Precision Guided Munitions, with the potential for very high loss of life and equipment deployed in-theatre.


Let's see....... By the time the Pak Fart will be operational, the West is going to have 600-700 F-35s. We'll also have a stealth UCAVs like the X-47 to deal with ground based threats, and perhaps even some electronic spoofing to help confound an advanced adversaries air defenses. Plus we'll have 160 Raptors (due to attrition over the upcoming years).

The "east" is going to get something like a couple hundred Paks assuming that their economy doesn't tank... Which I think it will. The Pak is not exactly a stealthy machine. F-35s will spot it first, target it first, and get off their shots first. The Paks are going to be out numbered significantly by -35s and the -22 silver bullet force.

Too many things are going right on our side for us to lose air superiority *just* because of a few hundred Paks. Like I said, stealth UCAVs will be fielded, hundreds and hundreds of -35s, the -22 fleet, and not too mention that everything I mentioned is far, far, far stealthier than the Pak. Unless they've got magnetohydrodynamic plasma engines which provide a cloaking field, I don't see the Sukhoi as tipping the scales in their favor. It would however, probably win in a beauty pageant!
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Unread post15 Jun 2012, 00:46

If the Sukhoi wishes to shield itself in plasma it can forget about using its radar AND picking anything up on its ESM. Plasma will just absorb the RF energy making any sort of detection almost out of the question.
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Unread post16 Jun 2012, 19:41

OK, more of a basic summary/overview now instead of picking over each sentence along the way...

The article is comparing the PAK-FA to three different American fighters or groups of fighters: F-22, F-35, and "legacy" fighters, which is a mix of anything prior to F-22 that's still flying. (15, 16, & 18 ). Its assertions about each of the three are of different degrees of accuracy & validity.

First, about the legacy planes: I have no doubt that the article is correct that, in individual or short-scale combat, Russia's new fighter is better than them. The last few models from Russia and Europe have already come close to or exceeded our legacy planes in terms of most of the traditional parameters by which fighters could be measured, like turning rates, speed, acceleration, range, and service ceiling. They might lag behind in sensors, but they have a distinct edge in maneuvering. And that's before this latest one even came out, with the same features plus radar signature reduction, which tips the scales pretty well. Of our legacy fighters, only F-18E/F has much radar signature reduction, and that still carries all weapons externally (and isn't our best performer in some other flight characteristics).

Where the article goes wrong in its discussion of legacy planes is failure to distinguish between them and our more modern ones, applying facts about legacy planes to American planes in general as if F-22 and F-35 didn't exist. Worse yet, it does so when postulating a future conflict involving "mature", mass-produced PAK-FAs, and by that time, our forces will have replaced most or all legacy fighters with the more advanced ones anyway.

On the comparison with F-22: although the article is pretty weighted/slanted to favor PAK-FA, by bringing up its apparent advantages in kinematics but not mentioning its apparent kinematic disadvantages, does end up concluding that F-22 is at least a credible challenger to PAK-FA. That's fair enough if you only look at kinematics, but it gets more lopsided when you consider a couple of other factors that the article doesn't really consider. One is the large gap between their signatures on each other's sensors. F-22 has the significantly better radar system, and even at the time the article was written, nobody seriously thought PAK-FA was going to have stealth similar to F-22's, and we've learned since then that it isn't even comparable to our earliest and least-stealthy attempt at stealth with F-117 either. It's not really a stealth plane but a somewhat-reduced-signature plane, and the same thing happens to all non-stealth planes when they fly against F-22. The other issue that the article gets close to at one point but doesn't really address has to do with the numbers of planes. If we had a war with Russia after Russia actually obtained as many PAK-FAs as it says it wants, our F-22s would be outnumbered. But not by a lot: almost 190 to "over 200". Even without considering any other kinds of fighters, that still brings up the question of how much work can get done with a given number of fighters. With higher reliability and less maintenance, even a smaller number of planes can actually fly more missions and provide more coverage. And maintenance/reliability is an area in which American technology has had a distinct edge over Russian for a long time.

Finally, about F-35: this is both the most important factor here, and the one that the article gets the most thoroughly wrong. It actually spends a lot of its length/time pretending F-35s don't exist, and when it does mention them, it describes them so inaccurately that it's like it's talking about some other plane. It repeats claims made earlier by the same authors that F-35s would "struggle" against Russian planes prior to PAK-FA, which is nothing short of ludicrous. Prior to PAK-FA, Russian fighters are as non-stealthy as our legacy fighters are, with no attempt at signature reduction at all. Put something like that up against a true stealth fighter, and there's only one way for that to end. Yes, it's true that F-35 is less stealthy than F-22, but it is stealthier than anything else out there, and by a rather wide margin in the case of anything but a B-2, which is not a Russian fighter. :D Combine that with the fact that F-35 has the world's most advanced (and this means better than F-22) sensors, pilot interface, and network/communications system, and it's just not even close. And PAK-FA brings nothing to change that but a relatively minor radar signature reduction. Also, the issues of number of planes, reliability/maintenance, and operating costs all swing heavily in F-35's favor compared to either PAK-FA or F-22, and are conspicuously missing every time the article mentions F-35.

The single quote that best demonstrates the distance between reality and the article's malrepresentation of F-35 is probably the one about F-22 and B-2 being the only planes that can hit certain kinds of targets. Those were obviously chosen because they're stealth planes and such a mission would call for stealth, but they left out F-35, which is stealthier than B-2... and has more maneuverability, better situational awareness, and air-to-air weapons. So, given how much more safely an F-35 could hit those same targets, why did they leave it out? Because pretending F-35 can't do things it can do is a part of their ongoing anti-F-35 obsession. There just simply can't be any other reasons to leave out the world's second-stealthiest plane on a list of planes to do a stealth mission while including the third-stealthiest. And they've been at this F-35-bashing for so long that, combined with the fact that this article directly mentions killing F-35 in response to PAK-FA, it looks like the whole reason for this article to exist, with its pattern of overstating PAK-FA's abilities and relevance while downplaying that of anything American, is just to serve that same old anti-F-35 purpose.
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Unread post16 Jun 2012, 20:01

Am I one of the few who doesn't think that the Raptor is at all suitable for Australia's needs? And we aren't talking about some fantasy Super Raptor with all sorts of A2G capabilities that have never been funded, integrated, or promised, but the current, USAF standard, GBU-32 and SDB Dropping F-22A Raptor.

The F-22 is, for almost all intents and purposes, a very single use platform. Yes it can carry out strikes with a very limited array of weapons, but when compared to the F-11s that Australia is losing, the F-22 would be a HUGE step backwards in strike capabilities. While the F-35 may be a step backwards in terms of range and speed at low level, I struggle to find an area in which the F-22 would be a superior F-35 replacement. In the perfect world of unlimited defense spending, it would be nice to have a huge fleet of the dedicated asset that is best in its field, but that just isn't feasible anymore.



I agree with you 100%. I still think if the USAF could travel back to the time the Raptor was specified it would look substantially different. They learned so much with the F-35 on how to build stealthy in a manner that is sustainable that I think that is why they chopped off Raptor funding.

The F-22 needs so much specialized maint. that it is kind of a pain. It will do the high end Air to Air stuff well for a long time but I think when you see it replaced you are going to see something much more multi-role along the lines of an F-35 with two engines.
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Unread post16 Jun 2012, 22:23

tacf-x wrote:If the Sukhoi wishes to shield itself in plasma it can forget about using its radar AND picking anything up on its ESM. Plasma will just absorb the RF energy making any sort of detection almost out of the question.

Not to promote the "plasma stealth" concept that has basically gone nowhere in several decades, but the idea is to turn the plasma on and off rapidly in time with the radar so that the radar works normally. ESM detectors would just be small devices outside of the sheath (which is actually under the outer skin).
Not that anyone has gotten it to work, mind you, but what you are talking about isn't the problem.
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Unread post16 Jun 2012, 23:56

count_to_10 wrote:
tacf-x wrote:If the Sukhoi wishes to shield itself in plasma it can forget about using its radar AND picking anything up on its ESM. Plasma will just absorb the RF energy making any sort of detection almost out of the question.

Not to promote the "plasma stealth" concept that has basically gone nowhere in several decades, but the idea is to turn the plasma on and off rapidly in time with the radar so that the radar works normally. ESM detectors would just be small devices outside of the sheath (which is actually under the outer skin).
Not that anyone has gotten it to work, mind you, but what you are talking about isn't the problem.


Being completely realistic, we might have anti-grav before Ivan gets his fabled "plasma steath" which all the YouTube Pak Fart (good name sewerrat!) fanboys use as an excuse.

The only known non-American craft which could really be in the same league as the Raptor is most likely the J-20... But even if that turns out to be stealthy enough to get WVR, that bus will never turn with an F-22. Perhaps when they build the prototype J-2X (low end J-20 counterpart), we'll have something to worry about.
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Unread post17 Jun 2012, 00:14

Pretty much.
(Though I have to disagree on which would be more likely -- anti-gravity would require entirely new physics that don't exist, while the plasma stealth is at least possible in principle)
Einstein got it backward: one cannot prevent a war without preparing for it.
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Unread post17 Jun 2012, 01:09

Maybe we need a new view of Russian fighter development. Anyone over a certain age experienced the MiG-29 hype and the '90's Sukhoi obsession that occurred online. They were sold as superior to the F-teens and people bought it.

However, looking at reality, it appears that the MiG-29 and T-10 series were what was required to decisively beat the US 3rd gen and to have a ghost of a chance vs the 4th. They didn't build a plane decisively superior to the F-teens until the Su-35. Even then Golden Eagles in the US network will slaughter it.

This is to say nothing of where the ECD's fit in. It appears that the T-50 is what they need to beat Typhoon. I think a fascinating discussion would be a CAESAR Meteor Typhoon vs the T-50. If the Typhoon is really around -10dB it makes a mockery of Kopp's analysis and claims that the T-50 is 5th gen. How can a 4.5th gen beat a 5th gen if it's really a 5th gen.? BTW, the Typhoon actually has supercruised, IIRC with weapons on it. What has the T-50 done?

If the historical pattern fits the T-50 will be superior to the US 4th gen and not be able to touch the 5th gen.

To get back to the F-22, we would have to wait for the Russian 6th gen to see anything capable of touching it.
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Unread post17 Jun 2012, 01:09

firstimpulse wrote:
count_to_10 wrote:
tacf-x wrote:If the Sukhoi wishes to shield itself in plasma it can forget about using its radar AND picking anything up on its ESM. Plasma will just absorb the RF energy making any sort of detection almost out of the question.

Not to promote the "plasma stealth" concept that has basically gone nowhere in several decades, but the idea is to turn the plasma on and off rapidly in time with the radar so that the radar works normally. ESM detectors would just be small devices outside of the sheath (which is actually under the outer skin).
Not that anyone has gotten it to work, mind you, but what you are talking about isn't the problem.


Being completely realistic, we might have anti-grav before Ivan gets his fabled "plasma steath" which all the YouTube Pak Fart (good name sewerrat!) fanboys use as an excuse.

The only known non-American craft which could really be in the same league as the Raptor is most likely the J-20... But even if that turns out to be stealthy enough to get WVR, that bus will never tu9rn with an F-22. Perhaps when they build the prototype J-2X (low end J-20 counterpart), we'll have something to worry about.


Why should the Chinese J-20 be superior to the PAK-FA? They are even further behind on the tech curve.
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