Air Dominance Unveiled: F-22 Raptor vs. Su-35 Fighter Showdown

February 19, 2024 Topic: Security Region: Americas Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: F-22Su-35MilitaryDefenseRussiaUkraineWar In UkraineStealth

Air Dominance Unveiled: F-22 Raptor vs. Su-35 Fighter Showdown

Despite the Su-35's impressive capabilities, including supermaneuverability and a vast arsenal, it falls short of the F-22's stealth, radar, and sensor advantages.

Summary: This article explores the mismatched aerial duel between the advanced 4++ generation Russian Sukhoi Su-35 and the unparalleled fifth-generation Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor. Despite the Su-35's impressive capabilities, including supermaneuverability and a vast arsenal, it falls short of the F-22's stealth, radar, and sensor advantages. Recent engagements over Ukraine, where Su-35s were downed underscore this disparity. The F-22's dominance in Beyond Visual Range (BVR) combat ensures it remains unseen and unbeaten, highlighting the technological gap between these fighters and reaffirming the Raptor's status as the premier air superiority fighter.

F-22 vs. Su-35 – It Wouldn't be a Fair Fight

The Sukhoi Su-35 (NATO reporting name "Flanker-E") has been repeatedly touted as being one of the most advanced 4++ generation aircraft systems in service today, combining many fifth-generation elements. The multirole supermaneuverable one-seat fighter was designed to engage air, ground threats and to counteract naval surface forces of an enemy.

A heavily upgraded derivative of the Su-27 aircraft (NATO reporting name "Flanker"), the Su-35 was originally intended for export. However, it has been in service with the Russian Air Force since 2014 and made its first combat deployment in Syria in 2015 – where it was employed to provide cover for other Russian aircraft on bombing missions.

It has a maximum take-off weight of 34.5 tons and can accelerate to 2,500 km/h, while the Su-35 has an operational range of 1,500-4,500 km and a service ceiling of 20,000 meters. Moreover, it features supermaneuvrability capability.

Though primarily an air superiority fighter, it has secondary air-to-ground capability, and can carry an enormous amount of weapons. It has 12 wing and fuselage hardpoints, which allow for it to carry ordnance with a maximum weight of up to 8,000 kg (17,630 pounds), including a variety of air-to-air, air-to-surface, anti-radiation, and anti-ship missiles, as well as a number of TV, laser-, and satellite-guided bombs.
Designated the "Flanker-E" by NATO, this "4++ generation" fighter has proven itself to be a very capable foe to current U.S. aircraft, including the F-15 Eagle, the F-16 Fighting Falcon, and the F/A-18 Super Hornet.


However, while the Flanker-E has received such high praise, few would think it could be evenly matched with the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor, the world's first true fifth-generation multirole fighter – and which is considered the absolute best air superiority fighter flying today.

Now in fairness, a lot could down to who was flying the respective aircraft, a point addressed in the 2022 box office blockbuster Top Gun: Maverick, where the aging U.S. Navy aviator takes out a "fifth generation" fighter with a Cold War era F-14 Tomcat.

F-22 vs. Su-35 - Back to Reality

Yet, we don't need a movie to highlight why such a match-up would almost certainly end in the favor of the F-22. It was reported on Monday that six Russian fighters had been shot down in just three days over Ukraine, including two Su-35s.


To date, not a single F-22 has been lost in actual combat.

Moreover, it is true that a handful of Raptors "lost" in aerial dogfights during training exercises, it typically occurred during "Within Visual Range" (WVR) air engagements, where F-22 Raptor fighter aircraft could not leverage its advantages in terms of stealth, radar, and other sensors. However, in the same exercises, no aircraft was able to successfully engage the F-22 "Beyond Visual Range" (BVR) – and even they did "everything right," no aircraft was known to get within 20 miles of the fifth-generation stealth fighter.In other words, if you can't see the F-22 you're not likely to get a chance.


Even though the Su-35 is a capable aircraft, it simply doesn't stack up to the F-22.

Author Experience and Expertise: Peter Suciu

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu. You can email the author: [email protected].