By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (March 22, 2005) -- The Air Force chief of staff added to his 5,000-plus flying hours with familiarization flights in both the F/A-22 Raptor and the Eurofighter aircraft.
Gen. John P. Jumper said the Eurofighter is both agile and sophisticated, but is still difficult to compare to the F/A-22 Raptor. He is the only person to have flown both aircraft.
"They are different kinds of airplanes to start with," the general said. "It's like asking us to compare a NASCAR car with a Formula 1 car. They are both exciting in different ways, but they are designed for different levels of performance."
The Raptor is the latest addition to the Air Force combat aircraft inventory. The Eurofighter is a combat fighter aircraft designed and produced as a joint effort by several European countries.
Despite being designed for different missions, General Jumper said the Eurofighter and the Raptor are equally high-tech aircraft.
"The Eurofighter is certainly, as far as smoothness of controls and the ability to pull (and sustain high G forces), very impressive," he said. "That is what it was designed to do, especially the version I flew, with the avionics, the color moving map displays, etc. -- all absolutely top notch. The maneuverability of the airplane in close-in combat was also very impressive."
The F/A-22 performs in much the same way as the Eurofighter, General Jumper said. But it has additional capabilities that allow it to perform the Air Force's unique missions.
"The F/A-22 Raptor has stealth and supercruise," he said. "It has the ability to penetrate virtually undetected because of (those) capabilities. It is designed to be a penetrating airplane. It can maneuver with the best of them if it has to, but what you want to be able to do is get into contested airspace no matter where it is."
General Jumper said he believes the Eurofighter and the Raptor will help America's allies and the Air Force each perform their part of the overall mission as they work together to execute the war on terror.
"We do things in a complementary way," he said. "We have been to war with our allies in Desert Storm, in Kosovo and more recently in Afghanistan and Iraq. We all have our roles to play, and the role of the U.S. Air Force is in many ways to kick down the door and make sure the airspace is available for people to do whatever it is they want to do in the air or on the ground under that airspace."
One advantage of having flown the Eurofighter, General Jumper said, is that it allows him to get first-hand knowledge of technology U.S. allies use and to see how America's handiwork stacks up. He said he believes the two aircraft are running neck-and-neck, but America must always be vigilant to ensure it stays on the cutting edge of aviation technology.
"You can see the technology that is out there compared with ours," he said. "You see the avionics and all of the great progress that has been made. You make sure you are not too complacent, because the technology that they have is very competitive with technology that we have."