If an enemy aircraft has survived to enter the “merge”—or visual range combat—and finds an F-22 Raptor, something has gone terribly wrong.
That usually leads to an intensive debrief to understand what went wrong. Indeed, all of the pilots I spoke to unanimously told me that the debrief is the most important part of a training sortie. Nonetheless, F-22 pilots train extensively for a visual range fight.
“We usually train full-up versus full-up,” Crash said. “We assume that a Western-trained F-22 is going to be the most challenging threat we’re going to go against.”