F-22 Raptor vs F-35 Lightning II – Which is better and why?

F-22 Raptor vs F-35 Lightning II – Which is better and why?

The F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lightning II are both advanced fifth-generation fighter jets developed by Lockheed Martin. 

While both aircraft are highly capable and share some similarities, they serve different roles and have distinct design philosophies.

The F-22 Raptor is primarily an air superiority fighter designed for air-to-air combat. It features advanced stealth capabilities, supersonic cruising speed, and highly manoeuvrable characteristics.

The F-35 Lightning II is a multi-role fighter designed to perform air-to-air combat, air-to-ground strikes, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions. It offers advanced stealth capabilities and improved interoperability with other aircraft and military systems.

So, the F-22 and the F-35 in terms of “better” can be subjective, as each aircraft is optimized for specific mission requirements. The F-22 Raptor excels in air superiority missions, whereas the F-35 Lightning II offers a broader range of capabilities and is intended for multi-role operations.

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F-22 Raptor vs F-35 Lightning II – Which is better and why?

It’s a case of horses for courses. It all depends on what you need to do. If you want to clean the sky, the better option will be the F22. Anything else will go to the F35. Yes, both can fulfil the other function without any complaints from anyone.

To answer the question, forget the technical stuff, and it’s the F22. F22 is older, so its software is outdated compared to an F35, but it’s faster, carries more missiles, and looks cooler 😉

Is the F-35 Lightning II bigger than the F-22 Raptor?

No, the F-35 is smaller than the F-22; below are some approximate size comparisons based on wingspan, length, etc. data. The F-35 is in red, the F-22 is in blue.

The F-22 is also approximately 50% heavier (in terms of empty weight), and it has two F119 engines, while the F-35 only has a single F135 engine (and where the F135 is a derivative of the F119, having a similar size).

One fun fact, however, is that despite being considerably smaller and lighter, the F-35 carries just as much (even marginally more) fuel than the F-22 and can carry larger weapons internally than the F-22. 

This is because the F-22’s two engines (and their serpentine intake ducts) take up a fair bit of volume, plus the F-22 has dedicated AIM-9 secondary weapon bays. The F-35’s single-engine allows it to have its weapon bays on either side of the engine, whereas the F-22’s main weapon bay has to fit underneath the engine air intake ducts.

Why is the F-22 so much bigger than the F-35, and how does the F-35 carry more fuel?

The F-22 is bigger than the F-35 due to its design and capabilities. The F-22 has a greater wingspan, length, and height than the F-35. The F-22 was designed to be an air superiority fighter, while the F-35 was designed to be a multi-role fighter that can perform air-to-ground missions. 

The F-22 is also heavier than the F-35, with a maximum takeoff weight of 83,500 pounds compared to the F-35’s maximum takeoff weight of 70,000 pounds.

Despite being smaller than the F-22, the F-35 is capable of carrying more fuel due to its internal fuel capacity, which is 18,498 pounds. The F-35 also can carry external ammunition in what is referred to as “Beast Mode,” which allows it to carry up to 26,000 pounds of munitions.

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Which is better, the F-35 Lightning 2 or the F-22 Raptor?

Better for what?

  1. Taking off from a carrier, F35C
  2. Supporting marines, F35B
  3. Dropping bombs, interoperating with other assets, burning cash faster than fuel, F35A
  4. Asserting air dominance… F22A

Can the F/A-22 Raptor do everything and more than the F-35 Lightning II? If so, why didn’t we stick with making the F-22s rather than the F-35?

First off, it is not F/A-22, it is F-22, the raptor is purely air-air. Yes, it can drop bombs, but that is it. The F-22 is next to unbeatable in air-air combat, but when it comes to attacking ground targets, the f-35 is the best out there. 

It has a radar that is so good it can jam other radars, which makes it great for attacking SAMs and when combined with its stealth, makes it really hard to shoot down. Then there is the EOTS (Electro-Optical-Targeting-System), which makes it great for identifying and targeting ground systems. 

The f-35 is able to integrate its radar(which can make a picture of the ground) with the EOTS and its other IR(infrared) sensors. The other IR sensors enable 360-degree situational awareness.

F-22 Raptor vs F-35 Lightning II – Which is better and why?

All the different sensors get integrated into one picture that the pilot can see in his/her helmet, which gives the f-35 unprecedented ability to know what is going on on the battlefield. The f-35 collects so much data. 

But that is useless if you can’t turn it into usable, relevant information that can be used to identify, track, and kill targets. That is why the F-35 is built with powerful computers and amazing code to analyze the data and give the pilot only what he/she needs. The f-22 pales in comparison to this ability.

Information is what wins battles and wars. You can have the best weapons ever made, but if you don’t know where to shoot them, they are useless. 

Not only can the f-35 get all this info, but it can share the data with allied jets, making them far more effective. The f-35’s amazing ability to detect and track many targets at once makes it so deadly.

Why didn’t the RAF buy the F-22 Raptors instead of the F-35, when it’s clearly out-flown in most dogfights?

  1. Dogfighting is irrelevant. If you are dogfighting, you ( and your command) have fucked up massively.
  2. The F22 fills very few of the requirements of the RAF. It does some things that the RAF doesn’t need and doesn’t do a bunch of stuff that they do need.
  3. The UK is a prime partner in the F35, and so it had a massive input into the eventual specifications and design. The RAF got the aircraft it wanted. So did the Royal Navy.
  4. The key to the F35 is that the British wanted the STOVL/VTOL capability for both the Navy and Air Force. It means that they can fly RAF and Navy planes off their carriers, and the STOVL capability also gives an advantage on use on deployments in undeveloped areas.
  5. The British were happy to sacrifice some speed/ range/ payload to get the STOVL capability.
  6. The F22 is no longer made. And there are few. Spares and logistics will be complicated. There will be hundreds of F35s. Spares and logistics will be easy, and with many other nations using them, they will be interoperable with many other NATO (and other ) allies.

I’ve been told that the F-22 and the F-35 are going to work together. Is this true?


The F-35 is literally a multirole, low-budget variant of the F-22.

They have a decent amount of parts commonality – something not usually found in different airframes – and software compatibility.

Further, they fill different roles.

The F-22 is an Air Superiority fighter. It deals with airborne threats. Its stealth and detection suites are designed for vectoring air-to-air missiles onto threats and avoiding any possible ground fire.

The F-35 is a multirole fighter. It’s not as good at the whole “airborne threats” thing, although it’s still capable. Instead, it adds a whole bunch of new capabilities – primarily ground-targeting. While it has a much less sophisticated air-to-air suite, it has a world-class, cutting-edge targeting system for use with myriad precision ground-attack weapons.

F-22 Raptor vs F-35 Lightning II – Which is better and why?

Are the U.K.’s F-35 fighters as advanced as the U.S. versions, or are they downgraded?

From what I understand, the F35 program was an international venture between the U.S., United Kingdom, Italy, Netherlands, Australia, Norway, Denmark and Canada.

Now, I don’t know how the budgeting went; most likely, the U.S. is paying a larger share than the others if I had to guess. 

Nevertheless, it is an international venture, so I very much doubt that happened on the grounds of “buy-in, but you’ll get crappier planes in return.”

More countries are not directly in the program but are committed to/in the process of buying F35s. Israel, Japan, South Korea, Poland, Belgium and Singapore. 

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I doubt these will get less advanced versions of the plane either, as all of these countries are considered to be “on the same side” (whatever that even means when a conflict breaks out, but you know…)

I know it’s just an infographic, and it would be counterproductive to do so in real life, but a flag decal on a plane like that would look cool. 🙂

How does the F-22 Raptor compare with the F-35 Lightning II?

Both are designed for specific roles while embedding the technological advancements of their time. F-22 was designed as an air superiority fighter, while F-35 is a multirole fighter. Comparing both specifications and capabilities takes a lot of work. But other aspects are interesting.

Both projects overshot their development budget, but production of the F-22 was halted after ~200 aircraft while the F-35 continued. F-22 was never intended for sale to allied nations, not even to the UK or Israel. On the other hand, the F-35 is being sold to almost all close allies.

F-35 is aiming to replace many multirole platforms, i.e., F-16, F-18, Harrier, Mirage-2000, etc. With advanced technology and comparable operational costs, it is nothing but the most desired jet that combines stealth, multirole, and netcentric warfare in a single platform.

With overseas sales, the F-35 will also be able to become a profitable venture like the F-16s, benefiting the US Gov’t and contractors.

F-22 has got speed, climb rate, and maneuverability with a superioravionics-weapons package to achieve air dominance. F-35 probably has only one worthy adversary (no insult intended for Rafale admirers), and that is F-22; none other than the US has both.

If the F-35 Lightning II is superior and more advanced than the F-22 Raptor, why is the US selling the F-35 like hotdogs but keeping the F-22 for itself?

The F-35 is superior to the F-22 in its avionics & sensors suite, but as an air-superiority fighter, the F-22 Raptor is still the King of the Air. The Lightning II doesn’t even come close, nor does anything else.

The only reason the F-22 is slated for early retirement is that its design doesn’t really allow it to be effectively upgraded in a way to keep it current with modern advances in its avionics, sensors, & communications packages. 

The F-35 was designed from the outset to be modular so that as new & better systems were developed, the plane could be easily fitted with them. The Raptor wasn’t.

Edit: I never actually answered the second part of the question. Why did we refuse to sell the F-22 even to our allies? The answer is pretty simple. When Congress passed that law, the F-22 represented the most advanced military aviation technology on Earth. 

F-22 Raptor vs F-35 Lightning II – Which is better and why?

There was nothing else that even came close, and even today, its radar cross-section is smaller than any other aircraft save the B2 Spirit Stealth Bomber with which it is roughly tied. The Raptor is a Mach-2+ supercruising bumblebee. 

We were not going to allow that technology to get out, period. Of course, it did get out eventually. Both Russia & China are doing their best to field cheap knockoffs based on stolen American tech, but it took a couple of decades to happen.

Also, in regards to selling the F-35, having allies who are also equipped with top-of-the-line stealth fighters is a great deal more useful to us in combat than having allies whose planes can’t get anywhere near the actual battle area without getting shot down by the enemy’s integrated air defense systems!

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Is an F-22 Raptor better than the F-35?

I am going to make a very direct statement because this comes up in a lot of different questions I see on Quora regarding fighter aircraft.

As of today, April 20th, 2019, the F-22A Raptor is the absolute best at what it does. Hunting and killing other aircraft.

There is no better Air Dominance fighter in service today than any military force. None. Zero. The Raptor stands alone as the top dog. This is not a biased statement from American pride or some defense industry propaganda. The F-22 has flaws, aspects that could be better, and places that can (and will) be improved. 

But there is simply nothing in the sky today better at hunting and killing other aircraft than the Raptor. That includes the F-35.

Now, that being said, is the F-22 “better” than the F-35? As a blanket statement? No. No, it is not. There are plenty of great things about the F-35 that the F-22 can’t match. 

And full disclosure, I have been a frequent and vocal critic of the JSF program since, forever. Plenty of mistakes to be found there. There were plenty of bad calls and just straight-up ignorance when it came to the planning and execution of this ambitious effort. All that aside, the F-35 is an impressive aircraft.

It is not an air-dominance fighter in the weight class of the F-22, but it can operate in an air-to-air role. But it can also operate as a strike aircraft, an ISR asset, suppression of enemy air defense aircraft, penetrating ground attack, you name it. 

F-22 Raptor vs F-35 Lightning II – Which is better and why?

It has a CTOL variant, a STOVL variant, and a CATOBAR variant. It is less expensive and has a smaller logistical footprint than the F-22.

It can do a lot of things the F-22 can not do, such as share targeting data with other aircraft (as of today, the F-22 can only share targeting data with other F-22s, though they can receive data from other aircraft). Other things it can do that the Raptor can’t track and target ground targets with a whole bunch of nifty sensors, including its main radar. 

The Raptor radar, even though the 35’s radar was derived from it, is not set up to target and track ground targets like this. It also doesn’t have several other targeting and tracking sensor systems that the Lightnings do.

Don’t get me wrong; the F-22 can engage ground targets. It can perform penetrating strike missions. It inherited that role when the F-117s were retired before the F-35s came into service. But the F-22 ground attack capabilities are very modest when compared to those of the Lightnings.

Keep in mind, the F-117 strike capabilities weren’t all that big of shoes to fill when you take away the stealth capabilities. The F-117 could only carry two weapons and relied on laser-guided munitions. The F-22 could take that mission easily and could do so with the same radar penetrating capability. 

F-22 Raptor vs F-35 Lightning II – Which is better and why?

The F-35s now they have now taken this mission and added much depth and enhanced capabilities. The weapons that can be used are more diverse, and there are more options for targeting. Also, F-35s can strike moving targets (with the addition of the SDB II), something the F-22 and F-117s could not do.

So, is the Raptor better than the F-35? No. Is the F-35 better than the Raptor? No.

The Raptor is the absolute king of the sky. The F-35 is the absolute best multi-role fighter in service today. So, one is not better than the other, but they are both the best at what they do.

Why does the U.S. keep building F-35s instead of the better F-22?

This is a very valid question. You’re right….but you’re also wrong. Here’s why!

The F-22 is super maneuverable.

Has thrust vectoring nozzles, is inherently unstable (like most fighters but still notable), has supercruise, all-aspect stealth, and is basically the best Gen 5 fighter out there. Mostly because it has no other competition from other adversaries, to be honest.

Here’s why people think the F-22 is better than the F-35.

It’s super maneuverability. Everyone thinks maneuverability wins in a dogfight. And that’s not particularly wrong for them to think that. Time for a history lesson!

Back in the early days of aviation, such as in WWII, many planes, such as the Japanese A6M Zero, were built upon the basis that superior maneuverability would win their fights. In the beginning, they weren’t wrong.

America’s P40s couldn’t hold their own for the first portion of the war. If you turned fought a Zero, you were dead. American planes were heavy, powerful, and fast. So, we played to our strengths!

Instead of turn fighting, also called “Turn and Burn,” and fighting laterally, we fought in the vertical with a method called “Boom and Zoom.” American planes were faster than their Japanese counterparts originally. 

We could go higher as well. With the altitude advantage, we’d dive down on top of them, attack, and climb away. The speed gained in the dive would propel our fighters back up, leaving the Zeros unable to try and fight back because they couldn’t keep up. 

F-22 Raptor vs F-35 Lightning II – Which is better and why?

Granted, there were other factors at play, such as the poor training of Japanese pilots, but that was the beginning of a new era for American aviation.

It’s said that in a dog fight, two things are necessary: speed and altitude; if you don’t have one, you must have the other. Speed to pull away and maneuver, and altitude because if you’re down low, you’re a sitting duck. 

That was the basis of the F-4 Phantom, which served in Vietnam. But there was a problem with the F-4; it was the wrong plane for the war at the time. 

The F-4 did have its issues, particularly with stability at sub-mach speeds, as well as the fact that it didn’t have an autocannon (originally). It achieved only a 1:1 K/D ratio for a portion of its service history. But damn was it fast, Mach 2 with afterburners!

This is the issue with the F-22. The F-22 is a great plane by almost all means. However, it’s the wrong plane for our given situation. Super maneuverability isn’t important anymore. But not because of how dogfights are won. Highlight that, underline it, bookmark the phrase, and make it bold with italics; make sure you know this because a lot of people don’t.

Here is why the F-35 is amazing.

The F-35 does what America does best. America is almost always correct when it anticipates where the future of warfare is moving. They were not wrong this time. In fact, the U.S. of A utterly obliterated everyone else at it this time around.

Technology is fantastic. It is so fantastic that the radar on the F-35 is so powerful that it can track, find, lock, fire, and finish an aircraft not only before it knows the F-35 was there but before you would even be able to see it literally. The F-35 is literally invisible. 

Yes, it is awful to close dog fighting, but America realized that we can now eliminate the need for dog fighting.

F-22 Raptor vs F-35 Lightning II – Which is better and why?

While it is debated as to whether or not the F-22 is more or less stealthy than the F-35, the F-35 has features the F-22 doesn’t:

  • It can jam other radars with a radar of its own that remains invisible.
  • It has insane sensor fusion: it gathers data from all allied vehicles
  • The pilot has a 360-degree view outside the aircraft. Cameras all around the body of the F-35 stream data to the pilot’s helmet, allowing him/her to look through the aircraft literally.
  • Is considerably cheaper to fly/build. In fact, as time moves forward, it is slated to be cheaper (adjusted for inflation) to purchase, fly, and repair (total cost) than the current F/A-18s.

So, that was long-winded. Let’s recap. The F-22 is an amazing aircraft. Stealthy, fast, and maneuverable, it definitely is great at dog fighting. 

Unfortunately, times are moving past dog fighting in favor of Beyond Visual Range combat, in which the F-35 excels greatly. At the same time, it is cheaper to purchase, fly, and maintain while also giving the pilot a god’s eye in the sky who can hack other planes’ radars.

But don’t worry, America will use their F-22s. The F-35 and the F-22 will work in tandem together as a team to create the next wave of American air superiority. Because if you control the skies, you control the battlefield. And that is why the largest air force is the U.S. Air Force. And the second is the U.S. Navy.

F-22 Raptor vs F-35 Lightning II – Which is better and why?

Edit: I want to thank everyone for the upvotes! This answer has more upvoted than all my other answers combined. 85 may not seem like much, but it’s a lot to me; thank you!

Edit 2: Woah! Over 300 upvotes! Thanks so much, everyone!

I found this video of F-15’s “dogfighting” an F-22. One pilot discusses how unnerving it was not to be able to see the F-22, hear him firing missiles (by saying “Fox 2”), and also to know his range was closing fast. 

And if you notice, not once did they discuss any Turn and Burn tactic use, just BVR combat and radar use via missiles. This is the future of war for planes, and the F-35 only increases those capabilities. Also, thank you, everyone, for 500 upvotes! I appreciate them all!

F-22 Raptor vs F-35 Lightning II – Which is better and why?

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