An F-22's wing is much different than a wing like the one on the F-16.

This an F-16 wing design:

enter image description here
(Source: www.aviastar.org).

This is an F-22 wing:

enter image description here
(Source: s3.zetaboards.com)

There is a great difference between the 2 wing designs. The F-22 is a very maneuverable aircraft and can out perform almost all the current fighter jets. The YF-23 has a very similar wing design and is considered to be one of the most maneuverable aircraft of all time.

So why does this wing design give the F-22 and YF-23 such good maneuverability?

The YF-23:

enter image description here
(Source: en.wikipedia.org)

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ You are assuming that the wing design is the reason for the F-22A's maneuverability. A better question would simply ask what makes the aircraft as maneuverable as it is. $\endgroup$
    – egid
    Commented Oct 10, 2015 at 18:16
  • $\begingroup$ I think (I'm happy to be wrong) the consensus is actually that the YF-23 was not as maneuverable, due to the V-tail. $\endgroup$
    – zymhan
    Commented Apr 12, 2019 at 21:30

1 Answer 1


The wing design is different between F-16 and F-22 (which is similar to YF-23) because the requirements were different.

The wing of F-22 (and that of F-23) were designed with stealth in mind, with the wing (and control surface) edges parallel to each other. There was no such design requirement in case of F16.

F-16 is a highly maneuverable aircraft in its own right. However, there are some reasons the F-22 is more maneuverable (i.e. it is super maneuverable) compared to the F-16, most of which are unrelated to wing design.

  • In general, lesser the wing loading, higher the performance. F22 has a lesser wing loading compared to F-16 (377 kg/m² vs 431 kg/m²). Though this figure will vary depending on various conditions, the F-22 has a lower value, helping in maneuverability.

  • The F22 has thrust vectoring, which basically acts to increase the control authority and also helps in controlling in high alpha region where the conventional controls would've become unusable.

  • The F22 is maneuverable in the post-stall region, something the F-16 is not capable of. This helps the F-22 in performing maneuvers like the Cobra and Kulbit, which is not possible in F-16.

As a side note, the F-16 VISTA technology demonstrator (which had thrust vectoring) is considered super-maneuverable on par with THE F-22, though it had the same wing.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I like this answer. It should be stated that what's best for stealth and what's best for maneuverability are generally exclusive of each other (consider the F-117, nicknamed the "Wobbly Goblin"), and the F-22 is maneuverable in spite of its stealth more than anything else. The YF-23 was actually more stealthy than the Raptor, but it paid for it with less agility (pitch rate was reduced due to the rudder-vaters not acting in the pure pitch plane), and as the ability to fight was considered more important than the ability to hide for the ATF mission profile, the Raptor got the nod. $\endgroup$
    – KeithS
    Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 18:15
  • $\begingroup$ Is point 3 due to anything else besides thrust vectoring? $\endgroup$
    – zymhan
    Commented Apr 12, 2019 at 21:31
  • $\begingroup$ @zymhan: No. The rest of this line is only here to fulfil the minimum length requirement. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 13, 2019 at 14:33
  • $\begingroup$ Food for thought-- what were the benefits of the F16XL with its much larger wing, compared to the standard wing? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Dynamics_F-16XL $\endgroup$ Commented May 6, 2019 at 23:52
  • $\begingroup$ @quietflyer would make a nice question in its own right. Main reason at the time was larger fuel capacity for longer range and more place for carrying stores. $\endgroup$
    – jwenting
    Commented May 7, 2019 at 5:22

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