Air supremacy is an essential key to victory in modern warfare, and the role of fighter aircraft is crucial. China, the United States, and Russia all have a lot of jet fighters right now. The United States also ranks first globally with more than 2,000 aircraft.
Possessing so many fighters seems like a trivial trifle for the United States. However, the last of these aircraft is the Fifth Generation fighter jet. The three big powers each have three combatants to represent them in battle; who among these three is the strongest if compared?
By European and American standards, and if you look at the criteria for a 5th generation fighter, the fifth-generation fighter from China and Russia currently does not meet the criteria. The F-22 is the only fighter that meets all the criteria of a 5th generation fighter.
Fifth-generation aircraft’s essential criteria
- Minimum fighter visibility in the radar and infrared wavelength ranges (EPR).
- Multifunctionality is the ability to defeat targets in the air, on the ground, or on the surface.
- The capability of piloting a combat aircraft at supersonic speeds without using afterburners.
- Great maneuverability.
- A circular information system is required for the fighter.
- AFAR-equipped radar aircraft.
Let’s not take this intergenerational dilemma too seriously and compare three representative models. What are the advantages of the three countries’ most advanced fighters?
The research and development of combat aircraft in the United States began early; there are many powerful models, and the replacement speed is also breakneck. In particular, the amount of purchased equipment is fantastic, and hundreds with each round increase the number of fighters. The overall air combat power formed is terrifying.
Currently, the F-22 Raptor has been in service longer than any other fighter plane in the world and is the most cutting-edge. The fighter plane, developed by Lockheed Martin and Boeing exclusively for the US Air Force and adopted by the USAF in 2005, is not available for purchase by any other country.
The F-22 Raptor is a twin-engine single-seater from the highly advanced fifth generation. The tactical fighter is known for its stealth, integrated avionics, superior performance, and super maneuverability.
The Raptor first flew in September 1997 and can be used in various missions, including surveillance, reconnaissance, attack, electronic warfare, and signals intelligence.
The F-22 Raptor is the only 5th generation fighter capable of supercruise. The F-22’s ability to vector thrust is just one of the few things that makes it an incredible asset to the United States.
The Lockheed-led team added thrust-vectoring nozzles to the F-22 to achieve an improved level of maneuverability. The F-22 was designed for a service life of 30 years and 8,000 flight hours alongside a $100 million “structures modernization program.”
The F-22 can carry many weapons as it has four wing hardpoints, all of which can take approximately 5,000 pounds and can hold external fuel tanks or AIM-120A AMRAAM. The F-22 has three internal weapons bays; the primary weapons bay can carry the most weapons.
However, with a price tag of $150 million, you can buy a brand new Airbus A320 and SAVE $50 million. More impressive is the estimated life cycle cost of over $334 million.
F-35 Lightning II
The United States has the new F-35 as a representation of the fifth generation of aircraft and the Raptor F22, which was constructed in the early years. These fighter jets are equipped with the most cutting-edge equipment, also available for the United States allies.
However, this equipment is complex and has some drawbacks. Million-dollar tactical helmets have flaws in their construction that put the driver at risk of hypoxia at high altitudes.
The United States began to consider reducing the costs of the F-35 to increase production. However, I don’t know if this doesn’t apply to cost-cutting measures, as aircraft breakdowns and performance have decreased.
The fighter’s flaws aside, the overall strength of this fifth-generation fighter is still very evident.
Since the initial design focus was on supporting ground operations without too much strain, the fighter uses a Pratt & Whitney F135 engine with a thrust of 19 tonnes and a maximum flight speed of Mach 1.6, which exceeds 1,800 kilometers per hour.
The F35 can also perform various tasks. The maximum takeoff weight is 31 tons. If fully loaded with weapons and fuel, the speed will be slower, but in beast mode, The F-35 can carry over 9 tons of weapons.
The Su-57 is Russia’s fifth-generation fighter plane. According to Russian flying statistics, this fighter plane can achieve up to 1,450 kilometers per hour.
The stealth capability of the Su-57 combat aircraft is another notable feature. It has two engines and can take on many roles in battle. Its primary function is to assist ground troops in battle. Similarly to the American F-35, the design function has specific requirements and aims.
This Su-57 is also Russia’s initial attempt to develop a stealth aircraft. As a successful model, it will continue to evolve and improve in the future within the field of stealth fighters. It is anticipated that more potent variants will be released in the future.
The Su-57 has a maximum takeoff weight of 35,000 kilograms, a combat radius of 1,200 kilometers, and is equipped with four weapon bays to achieve a dual combination of flight and stealth capabilities. With the blessing of stealth, ground attacks and raids will work well in tactical strikes and maneuverable operations.
Su-57 fighter jets use a third of the cabin space to design and carry weapons. The total load It can carry is more than 10 tons of weapons without stealth mode.
It also carries guided bombs plus long-range missiles and medium-range missiles. When you don’t need to perform tasks stealthily, you can also attach a weapon rack and carry weapons such as smart ammo.
Although Russian military technology is inadequate for complicated electronic equipment, its electrical equipment technology is unparalleled. The flight speed is faster than the American F-22, which itself is faster than the F-35.
Regarding weapons and equipment, it also has a complete firepower configuration, and its combat ability is enormous. Although the Su-57 is not much more potent than the fifth-generation aircraft in the United States, its actual combat power is indisputable.
The Chengdu J-20
It utilizes twin-engine propulsion and has an apparent length of 21 meters, a height of 4.6 meters, a relatively big capacity, and a Mach 2 cruising speed. However, the Chinese J-20s continue to experience engine issues.
The J-20 fighter can cover a cruising distance of 52 kilometers in 60 seconds. In addition, the J-20 is the only 5th generation fighter with a twin-seat variant like the J-20B.
The jet has been in active service with the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) since 2017.
The J-20 can carry a wide range of air-to-air and beyond-visual-range short-range missiles, air-to-surface missiles, laser-guided bombs, and anti-radiation missiles. According to the newspaper National Interest, the J-20 represents a synthesis of Russian and American innovations.
In contrast, with the fifth-generation fighters from China, the United States, and Russia, it is not difficult to say who is the most powerful, but each has its advantages.
China’s ability to eventually compete with the two military heavyweights, the United States and Russia, is a tribute to the rise of its military industry.
The F-22 Raptor, the first 5th-generation fighter, fits all of the conditions above for a 5th-generation fighter, which is why the United States has never sold the F-22 to anyone.
Besides these fifth-generation fighter jets, the current-generation fighter jets used by most countries in the world are called fourth-generation fighter jets.