Which is Better, Russian Sukhoi PAK FA T-50 Or the US F-22 Raptor? Why?

Based on everything today, the short answer isNo. I had answered a similar question, will explain it with little more details.


This is one of the most important aspect of a 5th gen. fighter and it’s the most critical drawback of PAK FA.

It is mainly stealthy only from the front while having relatively high RCS (Radar Cross Section) from several other sides. Those 3D thrust vectoring nozzles at back severely increases it’s RCS. The PAK FA can be quite easily detected from sides & rear end by F-22 (or any advanced 4th gen. aircraft). The Sukhoi’s patent of the T-50’s stealth shows an approx RCS of 0.1 - 1 sq. meter. It also has much higher IR (Infrared) signature. In fact, PAK FA is only slightly more stealthy than Eurofighter Typhoons & F/A-18 Super Hornets (in terms of RCS).

On the other hand F-22 is highly stealthy, not only against radars but also having low IR signature & reduced visibility.

Unlike it’s opponents, it is designed to be stealthy from all sides. The F-22 has a RCS of less than 0.0001 square meter. It’s pretty much undetectable from any useful range. The US also have significant experience of designing & operating stealth aircraft from decades (F-117, B-2, etc.) - Something Russia lacks almost completely.


Although PAK FA have shown significant progress compared to previous Flanker series but F-22 have a fine lead in this area. The F-22 got 3rd generation AN/APG-77 radar which has great range while at the same time having very low observable characteristic, reducing it’s chances of being detected by the enemy’s RWR (Radar Warning Receiver) and thus, maintaining it’s stealth LO characteristics.

The F-22 also features most powerful Passive Radar (AN/ALR-94) (250+ nm) which is capable of searching targets and providing enough information for a radar lock. In certain cases, F-22’s passive radar can provide almost complete guidance to AIM-120D (BVR missile) to reach it’s target.

The PAK FA is merely an attempt to match similar avionics. PAK FA has multiple radars for different purposes, while on paper in one way they might appear good but in reality there’s a big concern of it to actually disclose PAK FA’s position - if the pilot have it’s radar turned on then, F-22’s passive radar can track PAK FA from long ranges. The L-band arrays on wings (which can’t detect any LO aircraft at any useful range) can very easily disclose PAK FA’s position to an enemy.

PAK FA’s only temporary advantage in avionics would be IRST which can possibly detect other aircraft from ~50 km (max. at high altitude &cued-search). But due to low IR signature of F-22, the detection range will be severely reduced.


The PAK FA can only carry 4 BVR missiles & 2 short range missiles internally - this can limit PAK FA’s missions or carry external payload - further compromising it’s stealth. While F-22 can carry 6 AMRAAMs (BVR) & 2 AIM-9X Sidewinders internally.


Both aircraft have very good manoeuvrability and kinematically both are similar (considering PAK FA gets new engines). Though F-22 has better supercruise & more efficient engines.

BVR (Beyond Visual Range)

The PAK FA’s radar can’t detect F-22 at an useful range but F-22’s radar can detect PAK FA from considerable ranges. If PAK FA is using it’s radar, then the F-22 can detect & track it from 250 nmi. (the vice versa is not possible)

So F-22 is going to have significant advantage here - with low EM signature, very LPI (Low Probability of Interception) radar & powerful Passive sensor suite.

WVR (Visual Range)

Both aircraft are highly manoeuvrable. PAK FA’s slight advantage would be 3D Thrust vectors giving it better performance in yow axis. While F-22’s 2D Thrust vectors & larger control surfaces will give it better performance in pitch axis (20 degrees vs. 15)

It’s also important to note that PAK FA is having high IR signature compared to F-22 having special thrust nozzles designed to reduce IR signature & active cooling on leading edges. This would make PAK FA more vulnerable to IR (heat-seeking) missiles - especially the better HOBS missiles(AIM-9X) carried by F-22.

It is possible that F-22 could get a fire-control radar lock on PAK FA from certain angles (sides/rear end) and thus able to use radar guided missiles (AIM-120D). The opposite won’t be true for PAK FA due to much better all-aspect stealth of Raptor.

There have been reports of USAF pilots in training exercises unable to get a radar lock on F-22 despite being able to see them outside the canopy.

Anyways in WVR, the PAK FA will at best have a chance to fight F-22. Although most combat happens in BVR & PAK FA may not survive that.

Russian Economy

Then there is Russian economic crisis, affecting the PAK FA program - budget cuts, already exceeding deadlines, limited testing, small production, etc. All of these are going to further affect the overall performance. Even Russia itself reduced it’s order from 52 to only 12.

F-22 is a very capable platform already and have been able to do stuff that prove it’s superiority over anybody else - Like winning 1 vs. 8 in A-A combat against F-15s.

As the PAK FA matures & becomes operational, the F-22 will be receiving further upgrades - which are already scheduled & who knows what else. Thus, it’ll always be maintaining superiority till it’s successor (6th generation aircraft) arrives.


So based on everything today & what could possible be in next 5 - 6 years, sorry to tell you that PAK FA will never “out perform” F-22. It can reduce the gap & become more challenging (or in an imaginary world far from reality becomes similar to F-22) but it will never out-perform F-22.

The F-22’s design & avionics have set really highstandards for Air Combat and PAK FA’s design lacks severely in certain aspects that it can’tperform better no matter how many upgrades you put.

P.S. PAK FA is a great threat to any other 4.5 gen fighters but not so much for F-22. So don’t compare them, you may not like the truth ;)

R. A. Rauch

no qualifications of any kind ; )

112w ago

There are a number of reasonable statements that can be made to compare these jets.

Keeping things fairly simple, we can say:

1)  The F-22 should be stealthier, by a good margin from the front and by a very large margin from the sides. 

2)  The eventual production standard PAK FA should have some degree of a maneuverability advantage over the F-22, owing to assumed advantages in thrust/weight ratio and the fact that PAK FA thrust vectoring is planned to be 3 dimensional rather than 2.  (This assumes that Russia succeeds in developing a next-generation engine, beyond the 117, and that western assumptions about the weight of the aircraft are correct.  Initial production versions using the 117 engine will likely be more closely matched, kinematically, with the Raptor.)

3)  The Raptor should have a substantially better radar system, to some extent because of superior technology, but especially because of presumptive advantages in software development and computing power due to America's long history of superior defense electronics and generally world-leading tech sector.  (These advantages are perishable, obviously, but it will likely be many years before they are overcome.)

4)  The Raptor will probably have an advantage in other information areas as well, such as radar warning, electronic warfare, and data fusion, mostly for the same reasons mentioned above. 

5)  The jets might turn out to be similar in their altitude and supercruise capabilities, but from today's perspective it seems likely that the PAK FA will probably trail the F-22 somewhat in this area, with a supercruise capability somewhat lower than the Mach 1.8 of the F-22.  Certainly the burden of proof will fall on the PAK FA in this area, to show that it can rival the Raptor.

6)  The PAK FA will have an electro-optical sensor, whereas the F-22 does not. 

7)  F-22 networking will probably be better, once again thanks to the American tech sector.

So where does all this leave the question of which is better?  Well, it all depends on how you think future air combat will work....

Factual comparisons of aircraft (or estimates) don't automatically yield results about which is better, but instead must be interpreted via general opinions about the kinds of tactics and technologies that might work best.  If you are a believer in the by-now traditional 4th generation theories of energy maneuverability, you might think that the PAK FA will probably end up being somewhat better.  If you're more in the camp of favoring stealth and information, you should conclude that the Raptor will be better.   (All of this as regards air-to-air, which is all I've been concerned with in this post...)

Of course, to have any REAL knowledge of anything, you'd have to understand the whole of the battlespaces these aircraft would be working in, of which the attributes of the fighters themselves might be of less relevance than you'd think.  (Example:  if an adversary can blow up all your airfields easily, the attributes of your jets are quite irrelevant!)

Vaibhav Dua

lives in Delhi

129w ago

​F-22                            T-50 PAK-FA 
I think it is not the right time to compare these two 5th Gen giants because PAK-FA program is in nascent stage and the US F-22 is an unparalleled fighter jet. Just by looking at the specs of these jets it is hard to make out which one is superior to the other. 
As far as I know PAK-FA T-50 prototype uses Saturn AL-31 or Al-41 engine while F-22 uses a Pratt-Whitney F-119 engine. PAK-FA would be inheriting the qualities like vector-thrust, super maneuverability, high payload carrying ability from the super successful Sukhoi jets like Su-30/35. But F-22's stealth and BVR technology is unmatched and it will be for a long time to come. T-50 is ought to be cheaper than the great F-22. As far as the avionics are considered F-22 beats all the contemporary jets present in this world. But we can't say much about T-50 since it is in its development state. Both of the jets are very sophisticated and classified. 
I strongly believe that the pilot's skills matter much more than the specifications of the fighter jets.

Rahul Warrier

Malayalee, Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication

139w ago

PAK FA is under development and trials, and F-22 is currently restricted to US air space. Both are extremely classified air crafts hence virtually except for the general features nothing much is available on public domain.
F-22 is more stealthy, its Radar Cross Section is the size of a ball bearing and has better avionics, and its BVR capabilities are unmatched. But it is extremely costly and requires special maintenance that really stretch the budgets to run it
PAK FA is much cheaper than F-22, but has lesser stealth, lesser speed, but greater range, better maneuverability and far greater payload. As with Russian defence equipments, they may not be aesthetic but they are extremely reliable....thats something Americans are yet to learn


Which is Better, Russian Sukhoi PAK FA T-50 Or the US F-22 Raptor? Why? Which is Better, Russian Sukhoi PAK FA T-50 Or the US F-22 Raptor? Why? Reviewed by Unknown on December 26, 2017 Rating: 5

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