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Jester's Dead!

1:23 PM, Jul 10, 2007 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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David Axe has the scoop on the F-22 Raptor's first mock-combat loss. Axe quotes Air Forces Monthly:

The 57th Adversary Tactics Group undertook some interesting tactics not contained in the overall [scripted] intelligence scenario. These involved surprise threats, generally Red Air [enemy] fighters, entering the air battle unexpectedly. White Force [exercise control] staff would confirm that the threat was Red and Blue Air [the "good guys"] had to react. The tactic worked. An F-16C pilot assigned to the 64th Aggressor Squadron gained the first-ever F-22 kill in Red Flag. [94th commander] Lt. Col. Dirk Smith told AFM: "At least half of the 94th FS crews had less than 50 hours in the F-22 and no matter how magical the F-22, any pilot can make a mistake. The beauty of Red Flag is that we were able to go out and practice our tactics in a challenging scenario, make a mistake, learn a lesson, and be that much better prepared for actual combat."

And as Axe points out,

failure is the best way to improve. And if losing one simulated dogfight against other Americans flying F-16s was such a profound experience for our Raptor jockies, imagine what they might take away from a no-holds-barred match with experienced foreign pilots flying a genuinely dissimilar aircraft, say Indian aces in Su-30s or veteran Russian pilots in Su-27s - or even top British aviators in the Royal Air Force's new Typhoons.

I bet John Boyd would be proud, but not surprised, to know that it was his F-16 that made the first kill.