German pilots claim dogfight victories over US in Alaska war games

Fighter pilot Maj. Henry Schantz of the Air Combat Command F-22 Demonstration Team, has vapor form above the Raptor he was flying during a practice session on Thursday, July 26, 2012, for the Arctic Thunder open house at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News

A German Luftwaffe fighter pilot who participated in the recent Red Flag war games in Alaska is claiming that the Eurofighter Typhoon was able to get the better of the U.S. Air Force's vaunted and super-expensive F-22 Raptor fighter in simulated close-range combat. "We had a Raptor salad for lunch," one German pilot allegedly said. We'll probably have to take his word for it, because the Air Force isn't talking and the problem-plagued F-22 has never seen real-life combat. Wired magazine reports:

The results were a surprise to the Germans and presumably the Americans, too. "We were evenly matched," Maj. Marc Gruene told Combat Aircraft's Jamie Hunter. The key, Gruene said, is to get as close as possible to the F-22 ... and stay there. "They didn't expect us to turn so aggressively."

Gruene said the Raptor excels at fighting from beyond visual range with its high speed and altitude, sophisticated radar and long-range AMRAAM missiles. But in a slower, close-range tangle -- which pilots call a "merge" -- the bigger and heavier F-22 is at a disadvantage. "As soon as you get to the merge ... the Typhoon doesn't necessarily have to fear the F-22," Gruene said.

There's a debate going on among commenters on the Wired article over whether this revelation is significant in light of the fact that the F-22 wasn't necessarily intended to excel at dogfights.

Read more: How to defeat the Air Force's powerful stealth fighter