I asked Dave Fulghum, our Senior Military Editor at Aviation Week, if he'd seen the F-22 from the Langley air show and pointed him to the post where I put it up. Dave left some great comments on that post, and I'm moving them over here to their own post.
Turns out David wasn't that impressed with the F-22 maneuvers, because he's seen the Su-47 before:
This demonstration is interesting, particularly the low-speed, low-altitude 360 degree somersault, but it was nowhere near as exciting as the Russian displays I saw at the Moscow air show a few years ago. The reverse sweep Su-47 Berkat, was literally doing somersault after somersault at low speed and low altitude. (That's where the Russian air defense engineers told us they had the pieces of the F-117 that was shot down in Serbia.) I know the F-22 can do some incredible maneuvering, but most of their work is done at altitude and involves quick vertical and horizontal changes in direction (see Aviation Week & Space Technology Jan.8, 2007 special report on J-turns, high-alpha turns and the Cobra with the F-22). They're not doing that at the air shows -- so far, anyway. In the operational squadrons there is a lot of emphasis on doing what the aircraft is supposed to do operationally and not on developing an air show routine. Also, you won't see what the F-22 is capable of as long as it's at low altitude. However, I suspect the envelope will expand as time goes on. But in the U.S., there are a lot of safety rules to be observed. So, interesting, but not stunning, yet.
Ok, that sent me to YouTube to find the right Sukhoi footage.
Let's start with this one of the Su-37, which actually shows the more impressive maneuvering (unfortunately, embedding for this video is disabled, so you'll have to click over to YouTube to see it). You also see the thrust nozzles move from pretty close up, and there are some nice diagrams that help show what's going on. (I'm sure the Russian explanations are very helpful, too ;-)
Next we have video of the Su-47 with its distinctive reverse sweep wing. The maneuvers aren't as impressive in this one, but still worth watching:
Credit to Big Rocket, who first pointed to the Sukhoi's superior maneuverability in the comments.
Next, a commenter calling himself Small Rocket maligned the F-22:
You have GOT to be kidding (reference to original blog entry). This is STEALTHY? Its big, you can hear it coming no doubt its loud, you can DEFINITELY see it coming -- so much for stealth, what a joke. So what, it can fly straight up. For $250 million, we get a plane that can make some tight turns? Big whoopy do.
What you get with the F-22 is an incredible intelligence collecting platform that can penetrate sophisticated air defenses to collect at close range. Physics is physics, and getting closer to electronic emissions lets you analyze them faster and with more accuracy. The F-22 is going to be important for establishing an almost instantaneous electronic order of battle, creating situational awareness for any friendly with a datalink, electronic attack and identifying and targeting aircraft and other objects for conventional aircraft at ranges of over 100 naut.mi.
I'll interject here, too, that Small Rocket is either making a joke about stealth or doesn't know what he's talking about. No airframe is stealthy within 100 yards and over the airfield. Stealth means relative 'invisibility' to radar and has to do with low observability, radar absorbing materials, etc.
I just doubled checked my memory with Robert Wall, Aviation Week's Paris bureau chief. He says, indeed it was the Su-47 that was so spectacular and that compared to the F-22 airshow demonstration, "The Su-35 with its all-axis thrust vector control and the similarly fitted mig-29 (OVT I believe) also are more spectacular. Of course, a nice cobra maneuver is good for air shows, but I'd rather have supercruise and an AESA radar in combat." And with that I'd agree.
The strengths of the F-22 are impressive: engaging and re-engaging from 100 miles away at up to 65,000 ft. (even the latest Sukhoi's have a service ceiling of about 57-59,000 ft.), so there never is a dogfight; and electronics that allow it to identify targets that far away, engage in electronic attack, and gather and coordinate intelligence.
It maneuvers well, but the plan, should it ever come to combat with late-model Sukhois, is to shoot them down before their weapons ever get in range.
--Dave Fulghum and Sean Meade