Does the F-22 Raptor Have Beast Mode?

F-22 Raptor Stealth Fighter USAF
January 17, 2024 Topic: Security Region: Americas Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: F-22F-22 RaptorBeast ModeStealthMilitaryU.S. Air Force

Does the F-22 Raptor Have Beast Mode?

The F-22 Raptor does not have a beast mode like the F-35, according to a search of open-source defense news, but the Raptor is considered by some pilots to be a “beast” in aerial combat all the same.

Can the F-22 also go into 'Beast Mode'? While “beast mode” is a description, not a technical term, it refers to a fighter plane that is carrying more than its usual or standard array of weapons.

The F-35 Lightning II does have a weapons-heavy beast mode that has around four times the ordnance of regular stealth mode or 22,000-pounds of munitions. 

Meanwhile, the F-22 Raptor is more reliant on its basic stealth technology for training in “high-end combat scenarios.”

The F-22 does not have a beast mode like the F-35, according to a search of open-source defense news, but the Raptor is considered by some pilots to be a “beast” in aerial combat all the same.

The Air Force was even proud enough to feature the F-22 in a recruiting ad that runs before Hollywood’s new Top Gun sequel. 

What Is Beast Mode?

Beast mode is envisioned by Air Force war planners to be a “Day Three” attack configuration in an offensive operation.

This means the F-35 would drop or fire extra ordnance after the Air Force and Navy first acquires air superiority and achieves suppression of enemy anti-aircraft defenses.

The F-35 would have extra bombs and missiles loaded on hardpoints under its wings – less stealthy, but more powerful. 

The F-22, due to its highly-maneuverable stealth airframe, is envisioned as a “Day One” fighter that could escort the B-2 bomber or, someday, the B-21 bomber on the first day of conflict, penetrate radar and destroy enemy surface-to-air missiles to clear the way for F-35 beast mode.

Rehearse Likely Offensive Scenarios Early in a Conflict

The Air Force and Navy have practiced this type of attack configuration before and the concept of operations is something that could become a standard order of battle in a future conflict in East Asia.

Some Pilots View the F-22 in Wonder

The F-22 itself is a flying marvel according to some aviators.

A few years back, Task and Purpose web magazine shared pilot reactions from an interview on a podcast. Retired Air Force Colonel Terry “Stretch” Scott flew the F-22 during his career and related how potent the airplane is. “The flight controls … are phenomenal,” Scott said. “The original operator’s manual actually read ‘you may fly this aircraft with reckless abandon,’” he recalled.

The agility of the Raptor Is Unforgettable 

“Having come from a fourth-generation background, it’s eye-watering how nimble the jet is,” said Scott, a former F-15 pilot. “Even when I’m flying offensive against another Raptor, that airplane is eye-watering when it starts maneuvering visually.”

F-22 Raptor

The F-22 Is Beast Mode 

So, according to these Air Force pilots, the F-22 is always a “beast” due to its stealth characteristics and maneuverability. It’s good the Air Force envisions working as a team with F-35s and stealth bombers. The Day One – Day Three designation is interesting and shows the military is planning for a hard-to-kill enemy defense configuration.

About the Author: Brent M. Eastwood 

Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood.