The F-22A Raptor and F-35A Lightning II were designed to be fielded in tandem as complementary fifth generation fighters in the United States Air Force, replacing the F-15 and F-16 of the previous generation, with the former being a heavyweight twin engine design fielded in smaller numbers and the latter being a light single engine jet that would make up the majority of the fleet ( F-35s vs F-22s).
The F-22 was ordered to stop production less than four years after it entered service, resulting in only 187 planes being built and a failure to replace the older F-15, which is still in production today. Today, the F-35 is the only post-fourth generation fighter in production anywhere in the Western world.
Whereas the F-22 was supposed to be a considerably higher-end plane with overall superior capabilities, design flaws have caused the Pentagon to plan for its retirement decades ahead of schedule, while F-35s and F-15s, which were supposed to be far superior to the F-22, are still being produced.
Although the F-35 is less stealthy and has much poorer flight performance than the F-22, it has a number of other advantages that have led to it being increasingly seen as the preferred fighter, not only from a logistics and maintenance standpoint, but also due to its combat performance as its avionics advance to leave the F-22 behind.
When asked about the F-35 and F-22, US Air Force fighter pilot Rick Scheff said that if he had to choose between the two, he would select the “F-35, no doubt” if fighting a higher-end foe like Russia, China, or North Korea. “The Raptor is as cool as they come, and it is the greatest air superiority fighter the world has ever seen, yet it, like the F-15C it was supposed to replace, is an aeroplane without a real job in modern conflict.”
When was the last time one American fighter killed another in an air-to-air conflict? “I’ll wait while you look it up,” he said. The year was 2017, considerably more recently than most people realised, when a US Navy F-18E/F shot down a Syrian Su-22 attack fighter, although air to air combat occurrences with manned fighters had been few and far between in the last three decades.