Watch This Crazy Video Of An A-4 Running For Its Life At Low-Level From A Menacing F-22
It’s like a frantic life-or-death scene out of the documentary Planet Earth.
Once in a while we are be blessed with an awesome video or picture taken from the Nellis Range Complex. Sometimes it is of secretive aircraft undergoing testing, or a B-1B screaming through the mountainous terrain at low level. But in this case it's something really special—watch the world's most capable fighter run down a diminutive A-4 Skyhawk as it turns and burns at very low-level in an attempt to save itself from seemingly certain death.
This video may look like a "found footage" reel from Top Gun, but it also has a real wildlife documentary feel to it. These jets could just as well be a sparrow and a falcon, a mongoose and a viper, or a cheetah and a zebra, going about their life and death business in the animal kingdom. It's candid and ultra aggressive and intoxicatingly exciting. The second that A-4 breaks the ridge, it really is a real-world holy shit moment.
The A-4 shown is an ex-Kiwi A-4K now flown by Draken International. The A-4 is a classic adversary aircraft (read all about how they were flown against U.S. Navy fighter crews back in the '80s in this special feature), but the A-4Ks are among the most advanced "Scooters" ever built.
They feature a version of the F-16A/B's AN/APG-66 pulse doppler radar, mutli-function displays, radar warning receiver, modern weapons and stores interfaces, as well as a HUD and a hands-on throttle and stick (HOTAS) cockpit arrangement. Draken International has become deeply embedded into the adversary program at Nellis AFB, and are often seen flying out on Weapons School, Red Flag, or other missions toting AIM-9L/M Sidewinder captive training rounds and electronic warfare pods. You can read all about Draken's A-4Ks and their role at Nellis AFB in this past article of mine.
Back to the video: It's not entirely clear if one Raptor was orbiting waiting as another F-22 drove the fleeing A-4 towards his wingman—a classic predatory trap—or just one F-22 was present and it waited for the Skyhawk to come into range before dropping behind him and killing him. Of special note is the F-22 can be seen opening its Sidewinder bay doors briefly at around the :27 mark. This wasn't for a shot, so it may have been testing to make sure they are ready to go when the time comes.
If anything, the video acts as a reminder that the F-22 community is willing and able to get down and dirty if the opportunity presents itself, and no, their mission is not all about long-range, beyond visual range volleys off missiles.
Fox two! Splash one!
Hat Tip to 8081rt who did great work keeping up with the sudden action, and make sure to check out all their videos at this link, there's some awesome ones on their channel. Also a thanks to our good friend and PDX photo extraordinaire Sabian404 for the heads up. Make sure to check out his Flickr page here, you won't be disappointed!
Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com