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Trainer Shoots Down F-22 or What?

by Ward Carroll on April 20, 2009

Editor’s Note: This comes from our boy Steve Trimble who edits Flight Global’s DEW Line blog. As far as I’m concerned, Steve is the “Rainman” of aviation minisculia and I’d throw my money on his bet every time. See what you think…

The facts are a bit sketchy here. This clip was posted to YouTube on 18 April by an anonymous user named “d43e49”. The video identifies the attacking aircraft as a T-38, but it’s not confirmed by anything shown within the clip. At the 35-sec mark, the F-22’s shape is clearly visible as it emerges above the target sight after the kill.

As far as I know, this is the first video clip of a simulated F-22 shootdown to reach the public domain. That is newsworthy by itself. Let’s also be very clear: a single simulated kill without context says nothing meaningful about the F-22’s dogfighting or aerial prowess. Even an EA-18G can apparently get lucky once.

If a T-38 was really involved, then congratulations to the pilot. Your are either absurdly lucky or insanely skilled.

Steve Trimble

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris April 20, 2009 at 12:23 pm

I'm not familiar with the ways the Military tests aircraft, but could one explanation be that they intentionally flew in a "easy to kill" manner in order to find various weaknesses. I suspect this because the F-22 seems to fly very predictably.

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guest213 January 31, 2013 at 11:31 pm

you dont make manuevers like in the movies or video games when chased, you NEVER want to cross the sights of the opponent, close in dogfights will most likely be performed in a very predicteble pattern, a turning fight might become a vertical rolling scissor or turn into a vertical dogfight, but only idiots make micro-manuevers.

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bdwilcox April 20, 2009 at 5:27 pm

“If a T-38 was really involved, then congratulations to the pilot. Your are either absurdly lucky or insanely skilled.”
-Or flying against an inexperienced pilot and/or exploiting a known weakness in the F-22′s flight envelope where excessively tight turns cause a stall and subsequent tail pivot and/or you’re not flying a T-38 and/or the F-22 is malfunctioning in some way…there’s too many unknown variables for conjecture here.

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soonergrunt April 20, 2009 at 6:31 pm

When I was a kid, I went to an airshow and talked to a pilot at an F-15 static display. I had dreams of being a pilot before my eyesight went in my senior year.
The pilot told me that during type transition training, a new pilot who was hoping to qualify for a certain airframe type in fighters had to dogfight and beat an instructor pilot in the type. If the newbie wanted to fly F-15C’s for example, he went to school for the type, and as a graduation excercise he had to dogfight in a T-38 and beat an F-15 instructor who was flying an F-15C.
It may have been bullshit, but it sounded logical to me at age 14.

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CJ April 20, 2009 at 7:30 pm

There’s virtually no contexts to this video.
A) It’s not particularly hard to overlay a bogus audio track on top of some chase plane footage. For all we know it was a chase aircraft shooting video of an F-22 on a testing circuit.Not to mention there is about 8 edited cuts in footage, the footage is not continuous. I hardly think shallow turns constitutes ACM for an F-22.
B) It could be day 1 training.
C) they could be testing the RWR gear on the F-22
There’s about a dozen explanations to go with this.

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Drake1 April 20, 2009 at 8:56 pm

“Trainer Shoots Down F-22″…a tragedy of Elizabethan proportions -if only I had King Lear at hand to quote.

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Al April 20, 2009 at 9:03 pm


The pilot told me that during type transition training, a new pilot who was hoping to qualify for a certain airframe type in fighters had to dogfight and beat an instructor pilot in the type.”
The guy was messing with you. They don’t do that; what airframe you fly is based on needs of the service and aptitude. There was a similar rumor for Marines gaining MCMAP belts, that you had to “challenge” a marine with a higher belt and beat him to progress to the next level. All BS.

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TDS4S April 20, 2009 at 9:36 pm

When I was a kid, someone told me that they issued every Ranger student a puppy on Day 1. You trained with him for 8 weeks, and at the end of the class, you had to kill it or you didn’t get your tab. Apparently that policy changed over time, or else maybe they just forgot to issue me my puppy 15 years later.
Point is, there’s a ton of BS out there about schools, promotions, qualifications, etc. The military is very into task/condition/standards and objective criteia. Not so much into challenges, tests of manhood, or feats of strength. Sadly.

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theboogyman April 21, 2009 at 7:11 am

i want to be issued a puppy.

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Wembley April 21, 2009 at 7:39 am

Historically, about 50% of air-to-air kills are scored by pilots whose targets don’t even see them.
For all the hype, the F-22 doesn’t change the basics, and good pilots can still beat poor ones.

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Musson April 21, 2009 at 8:32 am

Gee. I guess having superior technology does not mean a favorable outcome 100% of the time. What a shock.

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soonergrunt April 21, 2009 at 9:18 am

I don’t know about puppies, but you can get a dog or a horse in the supply system.
http://www.tpub.com/content/logistics/88/20/index.htm

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skyrocket1211 April 21, 2009 at 10:08 am

This is so fake. I would never believe that a T-38 or any other jet could shoot down an F-22. An F-22 couldn’t shoot down an F-22. With it’s speed alone it would just outrun anything. Case closed.

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Drake April 21, 2009 at 10:37 am

Problem solved!!!
Scrap the F-22 production line and lets just pump out 700 T-38′s… Yeah baby!

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JH April 21, 2009 at 10:38 am

Its a bird, its a plane, its… a blur!

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SpudmanWP April 21, 2009 at 11:01 am

AFAIK the T-38 does not even have radar.. so the RWR test idea is out.
btw, this (if it was sneaking up on an unsuspecting F-22) will never happen to a F-35.. the DAS would have tracked him the whole time.

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TDS4S April 21, 2009 at 12:04 pm

Soonergrunt, you could never train with a horse for 8 weeks. Just imagine trying to ruck bales of hay up Mt Yonah. Be serious. Geez.

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tipover April 21, 2009 at 1:20 pm

The G meter says that this was a fairly easy turn (mostly 2-3, spike of 4) for an air-to-air engagement. Also, has the T-38 been retrofitted with a HUD? At lot of questions here. I have doubts about the basic premise of the clip.

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soonergrunt April 21, 2009 at 3:53 pm

hey, TDS4S, I never expected it to be easy THAT way. Wouldn’t you just order five or six dogs to have them carry the hay up the hill for the horse?
And I know you can lead a horse to water but cannot make him drink, but what about the dogs? Will they drink without having to be trained? My dog at home does this. And if you’re outside anyway, where do you send the dog to pee? My dog goes outside, but in this case you would already be there…and do you have to do anything special for the horse? Is there some kind of horse latrine pit you have to dig, and can you train the dogs to do that?
Work with me here. I’m a grunt and don’t know of such things.

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TDS4S April 21, 2009 at 9:07 pm

The dogs carry the hay for the horse. You ride the horse. Then the dogs eat the horse. The perfect circle and you don’t have to spend any sweaty hours with the Green Tick on your back and your arms going numb.
And we can tell people we killed the dogs at the end to get the tab.
Write up a FragO (we’ll call it Operation PETA) and we’ll have all patrols do it that way from here on out.

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soonergrunt April 21, 2009 at 10:15 pm

Can we eat the dogs? I know that the item heading is Animals, Not Raised For Food but when I was in Korea there was grilled dog on sale.
Or would I end up with statement of charges for unauthorized disposal of government property?
What does dog taste like, anyway?
(beat)
“Tastes like Chicken.”

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Dan April 22, 2009 at 3:01 pm

Maybe the F-22 pilot dropped the map and was bending down under the seat to pick it up. The HUD is believable, but it doesn't have radar. (However this combined with the fact that it was a gun kill could mean the F-22 never even got spiked and was maneuvering in for a kill of its own on another aircraft.)

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