F-22 Raptor Banks Like a Pro Over Nellis Air Force Base, Photographer Even More Impressive

In the world of military aircraft enthusiasts, like in most other worlds, people tend to pick sides. Depending on what type of aircraft we’re talking about, choices are aplenty, but when it comes to fifth-generation fighter jets, one can only go left or right. 
F-22 Raptor over Nellis Air Force Base 8 photos
Photo: USAF/2nd Lt. Christine Saunders
F-22 Raptor over Nellis Air Force BaseF-22 RaptorF-22 RaptorF-22 RaptorF-22 RaptorF-22 RaptorF-22 Raptor
On the one hand, we have the F-22 Raptor, a Lockheed Martin-Boeing stealth tactical fighter that was designed to be America’s first true foray into 21st century aerial combat. It started rolling off the assembly lines in 1996, but only 15 years later it was discontinued, on account of a variety of factors, making it one of the shortest-lived machines of its kind.

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.
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Editor's note: Gallery shows other F-22s.

About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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