Su-35 vs F-22 Raptor: Stealth, Speed, and Superiority

Exploring the Capabilities and Competing Technical Differences of the Su-35 vs F-22 Raptor Fighters in Combat

Su-35 vs F-22 Raptor

The Su-35: An Underestimated Threat to Air Supremacy

The Su-35, derived from the Su-27 of the 1980s, represents a not fully understood threat in modern air warfare. Despite being an evolution of the Su-27, this aircraft exhibits characteristics that place it in a higher category, almost bordering on the 5th generation. Its speed stands out, comparable to Mach 2.35, similar to the F-22, and its supercruise capacity allows high speeds to be maintained without resorting to afterburning, a crucial parameter in air combat.

Su-35 vs F-22 Raptor: Stealth, Speed, and Superiority

The supercruise capability of the Su-35, similar to that of the F-22, suggests a design strategy focused on directly rivaling the American fighter. Although generally classified as a 4th generation fighter, the Su-35 incorporates significant technological advances that potentially make it a formidable competitor to the F-22. Added to this is the continued effort of the US Air Force and Lockheed to maintain the technical supremacy of the F-22.

The stealth aspect of the Su-35, while not completely stealthy, displays certain radar cross-section reduction characteristics. Its slightly rounded fuselage and mixed wing design minimize sharp contours and angles, reducing response to enemy radar. Although it somewhat resembles the F-22, its stealth properties are not directly comparable.

Su-35 vs F-22 Raptor: Technical and Weapons 

Introduced in 2014, the Su-35 likely integrates numerous next-generation improvements in terms of weaponry, detection, avionics, and mission systems, including electronic warfare (EW). According to the Russian newspaper Hoboctn BNK, this fighter maintains a thrust-to-weight ratio higher or close to that of the F-22, with a figure of 1.30 compared to 1.18 or 1.37 for the F-22 with round nozzles, according to data from the Russian Defense Forum. Although there is an apparent deficit in this ratio for the F-22, its ability to achieve a ratio of 1.37 with round nozzles indicates significant technical parity.

Su-35 vs F-22 Raptor: Stealth, Speed, and Superiority

The outcome of an air-to-air confrontation between these two aircraft not only depends on their technical capabilities but also on the skill and decision-making of the pilots. Both fighters show similarities in terms of speed and thrust/weight ratio, suggesting that other variables will be decisive in real combat.

The ability to complete the OODA (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) cycle, conceptualized by John Boyd, will be crucial. This paradigm emphasizes that the aircraft that manages to get ahead or position itself within the adversary’s decision-making cycle will prevail.

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List of All 5th Generation Fighters in the World

In this context, the F-22 is frequently described as a “shoot first and kill first” aircraft, highlighting its ability to anticipate and react quickly in aerial combat. The central question remains: which of these two advanced fighters would prevail in a direct confrontation, considering both their technical specifications and the expertise of their pilots?

Su-35 vs F-22 Raptor: ​Combat Capabilities

When examining the technical parameters of the Su-35 and F-22, a close competition in terms of capabilities stands out. Although the Su-35 is positioned as an underrated threat in the air supremacy theater, the F-22 maintains its status as one of the world’s best air supremacy fighters.

However, the reality of air combat is that, beyond technical specifications, the determining factor often lies in the pilot’s skill and ability to adapt and react effectively under combat conditions.

The competition between these two fighters highlights not only the evolution of aeronautical technology but also the military and tactical strategy behind their development and deployment. While the Su-35 represents the culmination of decades of Russian aeronautical engineering experience, the F-22 symbolizes the pinnacle of American air combat technology, emphasizing stealth capabilities and aerial battlefield dominance.

Su-35 vs F-22 Raptor: Stealth, Speed, and Superiority

Ultimately, the debate over which aircraft would prevail in air-to-air combat remains open, with valid arguments on both sides. The answer to this question, intrinsically linked to the continued evolution of air combat technology and tactics, may not be definitive, but continued analysis of its capabilities and performance offers a fascinating insight into the current state of air warfare.

Su-35 vs F-22 Raptor: Superiority in Mission and Weapon Systems

In the technical comparison between the Su-35 and the F-22, the decisive difference could lie in the mission systems, weapons targeting, and detection and computing capabilities. These technical aspects suggest a possible obsolescence of the traditional concept of air combat.

Exemplifying this change, the F-35 demonstrates that it can dominate air warfare without necessarily engaging in direct combat thanks to its advanced computing and detection systems. This capability has been demonstrated in exercises such as Red Flag, where the F-35 has demonstrated its ability to detect and neutralize enemy aircraft without being discovered.

Su-35 vs F-22 Raptor: Stealth, Speed, and Superiority
An F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team pilot flies behind a KC-135 Stratotanker from the 465th Air Refueling Squadron assigned to Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, March 8, 2021. The F-22 team from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, is assigned to Air Combat Command and received fuel from the Okies during their flight back to their home station after performing at an air show. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Mary Begy)

This technological advantage is a crucial factor in the hypothetical confrontation between the F-22 and the Su-35. The US Air Force and Lockheed have invested significantly in improving the F-22, focusing on avionics, detection, and communications, transforming it into an “air marshal.” Software updates, particularly version 3.2b, have markedly increased the range and accuracy of the F-22’s weapons, including the AIM-9X Sidewinder and AIM-120D missiles.

In addition, improvements have been made to the F-22’s radar-absorbent coating and communication capabilities, allowing effective interaction with other aircraft, including the F-35 and 4th generation fighters. These advances not only increase their lethality but also their resistance to attempts at enemy interference.

The Revolution of Manned and Unmanned Systems in Air Warfare Su-35

Su-35 vs F-22 Raptor: Stealth, Speed, and Superiority

A critical aspect of the possible air superiority of fighters lies in the integration of manned and unmanned systems. The US Air Force has made notable progress in this area, developing the F-22’s ability to control drones from the cockpit, thus expanding its detection, range, and attack capabilities. Reports from the TASS agency suggest that Russia is also developing similar capabilities, although apparently not to the same level as the US Air Force.

Su-35 vs F-22 Raptor: Stealth, Speed, and Superiority

The ability of 5th-generation aircraft, such as the F-22, to control groups of drones from the air is a decisive factor in modern air warfare. This ability allows for more extensive surveillance coverage, testing of enemy air defenses, high-risk reconnaissance, and weapons delivery under human direction. This ability to handle unmanned systems could be decisive in the eventual combat between an F-22 and a Su-35.

The unknown lies in the extent of the Su-35’s stealth, computing, and weapons guidance capabilities, raising the possibility that this fighter poses a greater threat than generally recognized.


The conclusion that emerges from the analysis between the Su-35 and the F-22 is that, beyond the specific abilities of each aircraft, air superiority could depend on the integration and effectiveness of sensors, weapons systems, and combat strategies. Although the Su-35 may be more threatening than commonly recognized, the F-22 remains a formidable competitor thanks to its constant improvements and adaptations to the modern needs of air warfare.

This analysis not only highlights the importance of technology and innovation in air supremacy but also the need to understand how these tools fit into a broader operational context. The true measure of these aircraft lies not only in their individual capabilities but in how these capabilities are amalgamated within overall military strategy and tactics.

In conclusion, although the debate over which of these fighters would prevail in combat remains open, the constant evolution of air combat technology and tactics suggests that the answer to this question is always in flux, offering a dynamic and ever-changing landscape of modern air warfare.