As a kid, I played too many hours of Raptor: Call of Shadows on the family i486. It’s a fun but punishingly hard euro-shmup, taking place in the near future where corporations rule and wage war against one another with the help of mercenaries. In the game, you get to pilot a fighter plane, named the Raptor, and shoot down thousands of enemy aircraft.
But what plane is the titular Raptor based on? I’ve always thought it’s based on the F-22 Raptor, a stealth jet used by the United States air force with the same name. Now I actually know a bit more about fighter jets since I’ve played so much Ace Combat 7, so I can try to answer this question.
Box art featuring the titular “Raptor” plane. Image from MobyGames.
When looking at the timeline, at first glance it would seem possible that the plane is named after F-22 Raptor. The game was released in 1994. While F-22 was officially unveiled in 1997, it has been in development since the 1980s, under the designation YF-22. It made an appearance in the video game F-22 Interceptor, released in 1991.
However, the plane was not known as the Raptor until its unveiling in 1997. This means it’s likely just a coincidence that the planes share a name. The game developers probably chose the name “Raptor” simply because it sounded cool.
The similarities become even less pronounced when we look at the two jets side by side.
F-22 model from Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown
The wings are shaped completely differently, the vertical stabilizers are angled in a different fashion and the air intakes look nothing alike. The fictional Raptor looks nothing like the real Raptor, missing all the distinctive streamlined stealth features.
However, there’s another fighter jet that more closely resembles the game’s “Raptor” and that’s F-15 Eagle, another fighter plane currently in service in United States Air Force.
F-15 model from Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown
As you can see, the canopy, air intakes, and vertical stabilizers are almost identical. The “Raptor” has a slightly more angular wing shape. The only major difference is that the “Raptor” is completely missing the horizontal stabilizers in the rear and it has additional canards in the front.
It’s unclear how “Raptor” is able to pitch up and down without horizontal stabilizers. The only planes I’ve seen without horizontal stabilizers have been delta wing aircraft, like Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, and Gripen. Maybe the plane is using some sort of future technology to accomplish this?
What’s actually funny is there exists a variant of the F-15 with canards, called the F-15 STOL/MTD. It served as a technology demonstrator for supermaneuverability. However, in this plane, canards were not placed in the nose, but next to the air intakes.
F-15 STOL/MTD in Ace Combat: Assault Horizon. Image from Ace Combat Wiki.
Another interesting fact is that the “Raptor” seems to have Vertical Take-Off and Landing capabilities, judging by a cutscene shown in the game.
The first fighter with VTOL capability, the F-35B Lightning II came into service over a decade after the game was released. While the AV-8B Harrier II did have VTOL capabilities when the game was released, the Harrier is a ground-attack aircraft, not a fighter.
There you have it. The titular plane in Raptor: Call of the Shadows is not based on the F-22 Raptor, but the F-15 Eagle.