On the other hand, there’s the F-35 Lighting, made by the same Lockheed Martin starting 2006, and pretty much doubling down on the same needs of the American military. Unlike the Raptor, this one is still in production, but some say it will never match an F-22 when it comes to air superiority.
Both of them are currently used by the American armed forces, although there will never be more F-22s than the under 200 made a decade ago. This isn’t stopping the pilots flying these planes from showing off every chance they get, hoping to put a dent in the arguments of those advocating for the F-35.
And the photo we have here, released by the USAF as part of the Year in Photos release, is a perfect example of that.
It shows a Raptor uncomfortably close to the Canon camera used to snap a pic of it, banking to the right over the desert around the Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. The plane, deployed with the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron, was flying back in March 2021, when the picture was taken, on a mission for the Orange Flag exercise.
Whereas as far as capabilities go the Raptor fights the F-35, in the case of this particular maneuver’s wow factor, the battle is against the second lieutenant who snapped the pic.
We are not being told what airplane she was flying in, but one has to admire the perfect timing when it comes to pressing the shutter, and the ability of keeping cool with a wonderful beast in such close proximity.