Back in July I relayed reports of the first-ever “shoot-down” of an F-22 Raptor fighter, during a mock dogfight with a U.S. Air Force F-16. Our European friends — Brits, Italians, Germans and Spaniards — might have had a couple chuckles at the news, for their new fighter, the Typhoon, had never suffered a similar humiliation. (Or if it had, no one had reported it.)
No longer. It has come to light that during an exercise in Italy in May, a Hungarian Gripen light fighter — a small, single-engined design generally considered only slightly better than an F-16 — “shot down” an Italian Typhoon, according to a press release from the manufacturer, quoting a Hungarian pilot:
“Other aircraft couldn’t see us -– not on radar, not visually -– and we had no jammers of our own with us. We got one Fox 2 kill on a F-16 who turned in between our two jets but never saw the second guy and it was a perfect shot.”“Our weapons and tactics were limited by Red Force rules, and in an exercise like this the Red Force is always supposed to die, but even without our AMRAAMs and data links we got eight or 10 kills, including a Typhoon. Often we had no AWACS or radar support of any kind, just our regular onboard sensors –- but flying like that, ‘free hunting’, we got three kills in one afternoon. It was a pretty good experience for our first time out.”
Should F-22 jocks worry? Maybe, according to the BBC, which claims that the “RAF’s Eurofighters have flown highly successful missions against the F-22 during recent exercises in the U.S.”
The lesson here? Sometimes a basic fighter, expertly flown, will win even against your latest high-tech jets, no matter how many tens of billions of dollars you sink into whiz-bangs.