Quote Originally Posted by WoT
In little more than a year, the Air Force has transformed its newly operational F-22 into something remarkable—a weapon of true intimidation. The Raptor has proved itself time and time again in USAF’s toughest wargames. In live exercises, it has trounced the best “opponents” USAF can muster. It hits them at unprecedented speeds and altitudes—and with impunity.

The F-22 does this while in the hands of operators—not test pilots, but rank and file fighter pilots. They consider it to be nearly as reliable as mature F-15 and F-16 fighters. Moreover, the Raptor has shown capabilities that may vastly amplify the power of the rest of the force.

In short, the F-22 is delivering on even the most ambitious claims made for it.
A dozen F-22s, flown by a cadre of handpicked pilots and kept in shape by the 27th’s best maintainers, went to Northern Edge, a two-week joint-force wargame in Alaska. Participants included 5,000 troops in Army ground units, Marine Corps ground units, Navy Aegis cruisers and aircraft, and Air Force aircraft ranging from fighters and search and rescue helicopters to E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft.

Col. Thomas Bergeson, the 1st Operations Group commander, said it was the largest exercise for him in 20 or so years. In one Northern Edge engagement, USAF and its sister services put more than 40 fighters in the air at once, as well as E-2C Hawkeye and E-3 AWACS aircraft.

To confront the F-22-led “Blue Air” collection, the joint force mustered its best “Red Air” threat—front-line F-15s, F-16s, and Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets. The F-22’s team blitzed the opposition with a favorable 241-to-two kill ratio. What’s more, the two lost aircraft were F-15Cs, not F-22s. The Raptors came through the engagements untouched.

In Red Flags, Bergeson said, “you have a great day if you lose only 10 percent of your forces.” The massively lopsided victory for the stealthy F-22-led force was unprecedented.

“They [the Red Air adversaries] couldn’t see us,” Tolliver said. This was true even when the opponents were assisted by AWACS. “And that’s what makes the F-22 special,” Tolliver went on. “I’m out there and I have weapons like an F-15C or an F-16, but ... I’m basically invisible to the other guy’s radar.”

The 241-to-two record was amassed over two weeks of air engagements. Tolliver noted that, in such battles, Red Air units were allowed to regenerate and return to the fight, but lost Blue forces could not. Even with such handicaps, in the largest single engagement, F-22-led forces claimed 83 enemies to one loss, after facing down an opposing force that had generated or regenerated 103 adversary fighters.