No one would contend that the long dated A-4 Skyhawk is a reasonable match for America’s best air superiority fighter, the F-22 Raptor, but U.S. pilots need experience contending with a wide variety of opponent aircraft — including dated platforms like those employed by many national militaries.
That sort of training is why the U.S. Navy maintains “aggressor” fleets of aircraft used specifically as mock enemies in air combat training. The A-4, which first took to the skies in the 1950s, survives to this day as an aggressor aircraft flown and maintained by Draken International, maintains an unusual mix of classic and modern trappings — thanks to upgraded pulse Doppler radar, multi-function displays, radar warning receiver, heads up display and other new doodads meant to make the old fighter into a more modern competitor.
Of course, all the upgrades in the world won’t give the A-4 the advantage over the stealthy and capable F-22 Raptor — and about 2/3 of the way through this video that becomes apparent. As the Raptor, hunting overhead, spots the A-4 flying up and over a ridge line, you really do get the sense that the older aircraft is running for its life — even if the missiles fired by the F-22 are nothing more than notional.
Watch the hunt below:
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About Alex Hollings
Alex Hollings writes on a breadth of subjects with an emphasis on defense technology, foreign policy, and information warfare. He holds a master's degree in communications from Southern New Hampshire University, as well as a bachelor's degree in Corporate and Organizational Communications from Framingham State University.