Analyst: Russian MiG-29 and Su-27 Top American F-35


Can Soviet-era fighter jets like the one above, the twin-engine MiG-29 Fulcrum, or the bigger one below, the Su-27 Flanker, outperform the newest American design, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter?


Yes, according to Bill French, a policy analyst with the National Security Network, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that favors progressive defense policies. He’s the author of a report released Tuesday by the organization. It’s titled, “Thunder without Lightning: The High Costs and Limited Benefits of the F-35 Program,” a pun on the jet’s official name, Lightning II.

The document comes a month after news of an internal Pentagon review that detailed how an F-16 outperformed an F-35 in a dog-fight.

In his research, French wrote the Joint Strike Fighter performed only slightly better than the F-16, F-18 and AV-8B Harrier — the U.S. aircraft it’s slated to replace. What’s more, he compared the power, maneuverability and maximum payloads of the fifth-generation stealth fighter against those of the older Russian aircraft.

Here’s what he wrote:

“The F-35’s performance characteristics also compare unfavorable to already deployed foreign 4th-generation fighters such as the Russian-designed MiG-29 Fulcrum and Su-27 Flanker (also produced by China) in service with air forces around the world. These are the kinds of aircraft the F-35 would most likely face in air-to-air engagements against a high-end opponent. Compared to both the Su-27 and the MiG-29, the F-35 is grossly inferior in terms of wing loading (except for the F-35C), transonic acceleration, and thrust-to-weight. All F-35 variants also have significantly lower maximum speeds, Mach 1.6 for the F-35 compared to Mach 2.2 for the Su-27 and Mac 2.3 for the MiG-29.

Air-to-air simulations paint an even grimmer picture. In 2009, U.S. Air Force and Lockheed Martin analysts indicated that the F-35 could be expected to achieve only a 3-to-1 kill ratio against the decades-old MiG-29 and Su-27 despite its advantages in stealth and avionics. The results of other simulations have been far worse. In one simulation subcontracted by the RAND Corporation, the  F-35 incurred a loss exchange ratio of 2.4-1 against Chinese Su-35s. That is, more than two F-35s were lost for each Su-35 shot down. While these simulations take into account a host of other factors and include assumptions about the context in which the engagements take place, they nevertheless underscore the need for skepticism regarding the F-35’s air-to-air capabilities.

Unfortunately, there are insufficient data on foreign 5th-generation fighters to allow for meaningful comparisons. Three such fighters are known to be under development: the Russian PAK FA and the Chinese J-20 and J-31.

The F-35 is the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons acquisition program, estimated to cost $391 billion to purchase 2,457 aircraft for the Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy.

The Corps recently announced the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter was ready to fly initial operations — albeit with a less lethal version of the aircraft. The Air Force is expected to make a similar declaration in 2016 and the Navy in 2019.

Corps officials have acknowledged they’ll have to “make do” with a less lethal version of the airplane. For example, the early operational F-35Bs won’t include a new night-vision helmet, Small Diameter Bomb II or GAU-22/A four-barrel 25mm Gatling gun — or the ability to stream video or simultaneously fuse sensor data from four aircraft.

Many of the weapons improvements will be included as part of a future software upgrade, known as 3F, which is slated for fully operational F-35Bs in late 2017. Indeed, proponents of the aircraft argue that fully operational Joint Strike Fighters will easily outperform fourth-generation aircraft.

Eight countries have committed to help develop the F-35, including the U.K., Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark and Norway. Also, Israel, Japan and South Korea plan to buy production models of the aircraft.


About the Author

Brendan McGarry
Brendan McGarry is the managing editor of He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.
  • John

    Oh look, an article that (stupidly) slashes the F-35, that’s a first!

    • McGarryB17

      I agree that critical reports about the F-35 seem common these days.That said, an accompanying news story about this white paper is the most popular article right now on our sister site So I thought it’d be worth a post here about what exactly the analyst wrote. What do you think is missing from the F-35 debate?

      • Windshire

        It’s like taking the best pistol in the world vs a sniper rifle with equally skilled operators @2000 ft apart.

        • Windshire

          then saying the guy with pistol is in better position to win.

          • Dfens

            Ah, the steady drip, drip, drip of bad news. It’s a good thing no one has anything to benefit from the cancellation of this program or it might make a person skeptical

          • Mark

            The drips though are purposely maligned twisting truth to be deceptive. Yet at each time the jet is tasked in training it does a superb job. That information comes straight from those who use it. So how much credence do we give junk reports over those who are using it right now?

            Now for some truths. Those suposive news dispensing sites are only after traffic. Their sites need traffic so they can make revenue from their adds that are everywhere. So with this traffic goal in mind what kind of material do you pen as a writer to create the most traffic? The term journalistic whores comes to my mind. They are selling whatever attracks, truth be forfeit. They could not care less about truth - unless they can get traffic from it. It is all about the money to them.

          • Dfens

            Too bad the “journalists” don’t have the integrity to publish the real story, which is not that the F-35 program is great nor that the F-35 is garbage. The real story is the way the public is being deceived so Lockheed can make huge amounts of cash off this cow. First we pay them $1.10 for every $1.00 they spend, then we offer them a $10+ billion carrot to fail badly enough to get the program cancelled. Seems like some major conflicts of interest, but you never hear about that.

          • Mark

            Yes we do. You tell us every 2.5 hours of the day, every day.

          • Dfens

            You’re one of the lucky ones then.

          • Dfens

            Of course, I could participate in the great: Cancel F-35/F-35 is the greatest plane ever “debate”. That never seems to get old. 350 posts in the greatest intellectual debate since “tastes great/less filling” and no one seems to be tiring of that one.

          • Clark

            Learning its trash when you lose a decisive battle is a little too late. Russia isn’t Iraq or Libya or Syria.
            These are the big goys and Professional Military Pilots have posted their opinions. One just has to find them, There is no network that posts fighter jock opinions. Besides they risking censured by superiors its not often.
            The few that have, put the Russian aircraft far above the US. Now one certainly doesn’t want to believe it and I sure wish I could believe that we have the far superior aircraft, but to enter the fray because I want to believe I’ll win is stupid and too late.
            Because you’ll get your butt handed to you in coffin.

            Vietnam Veteran- been there done that

        • Phil

          More like taking one rifle that you can only afford one of. And putting it against multiple people with fully capable and reliable pistols and hoping you don’t end up in a house.

          • crackedlenses

            Ignoring the substantially higher casualties you would face by giving all your guys pistols as well, which is more or less the alternative in this case….

      • donbacon

        The idea is that the over-budget, over-schedule under-performing F-35 program is somehow beyond criticism, and don’t expect any Bogdan anonymous sock-puppets to give you any specifics about why that situation exists.

      • HeresYourAnswer

        What’s missing is the fact that these analyses that appear here only include the unclassified capabilities for both the friendly and adversary aircraft. The simulations are based almost purely on speculation (true radar performance, missile performance, and stealth characteristics are all classified). Plus, the fact that the report cites “top speed” as something that matters makes me suspect that they are even setting up their simulation correctly. Top speed is just something that looks good on spec sheets. In real life everybody is going Mach 0.9 because going Mach 1 means you’ll run out of gas. Sure, when two fighters are merged the higher thrust and larger control surfaces of a Su-35 are going to help it maneuver, but that really only matters if they go to the merge in a favorable manner. If the F-35 gets the drop on them it doesn’t matter that they can turn.

        It’s fun to poke at the F-35 because it is a horribly mismanaged acquisition program that costs the taxpayers too much money. But you lose credibility when you throw spears in the wrong direction. The F-35 is an advanced piece of fighting technology with all the latest toys and it will kick some serious butt.

        • donbacon

          “an advanced piece of fighting technology ” has yet to be demonstrated.
          From the most recent test report:

          In spite of the focused effort, the program was not able to accomplish its goal of completing Block 2B fl ight testing by the end of October.
          - Slower than planned progress in mission systems, weapons integration, and F-35B fl ight sciences testing delayed the completion of the testing required for Block 2B fl eet release. The program now projects this to occur by the end of January 2015, instead of the end of October 2014 as was previously planned.
          - Restrictions imposed on the test fl eet as a result of the engine failure in June reduced test point availability and slowed progress in mission systems and fl ight sciences testing from July through November. For example, the effect on mission systems testing was approximately 17 percent loss of productivity in accomplishing test points, from 210 points accomplished per month prior to the engine restrictions to approximately 175 points per month. …etc.

          And operational testing won’t start for at least two years, principally due to software delays on this “flying computer.”

        • Dfens

          “It’s fun to poke at the F-35 because it is a horribly mismanaged acquisition program that costs the taxpayers too much money.”

          Mismanaged? It’s been a cash cow for Lockheed for over 20 years, and there’s still that $10 billion pot of gold sitting out there if they can do a bad enough job to get the program cancelled. They’re going to mismanage this program into making them fantastically rich. It makes you wonder what success looks like.

        • Mitchell Fuller

          It’s not an air dominance fighter and was never designed as such. It is a strike aircraft, think A-7 with stealth and was suppose to cost 40 million a plane….. see Secrets of Future Airpower (YouTube) where those within the program explain this.

          F-22 is the air dominance fighter in the hi / low scenario they outline.

          F-35 is roughly same size and weight as a F-15 with smaller wings and 15,000 lbs less thrust……

          • Joe Schmoe

            You’re ignoring inflation. The F-35 still costs about $20 million more (per currently) than projected, but it’s nowhere near double.

            While the F-35 weighs close to the F-15, you’re off by roughly 10 feet in both directions in terms of size… it’s definitely in F-16 territory scale-wise.

      • ggg

        A real dogfight between an F35 and a MiG-29 or Su-27.

      • SMSgt Mac

        Easier to say what’s in the ‘report’: References to every Faux Military Reform trope and Punk Journalism hit piece in recent memory. While the ‘authors’ give the recognition to their ‘help’ — “We would especially like to thank David Axe, Winslow Wheeler, Mandy Smithberger, Pierre Sprey, Larry Korb, Kate Blakeley, and Bill Hartung for reviewing drafts of the paper and providing valuable feedback that immensely benefited this work.” — by looking at the references in the back it is quite clear the contents were essentially dictated by same. That ‘think tank’ BTW is a job program for some of the more disreputable Clintonistas, It is to ‘think tank’ what the Cthulhu mythos is to organized religion.
        Other than that, it’s a just peachy paper!

        • Anon

          What? No Bill Sweetman? Im Shocked Sir!

          • jack

            As funny as it sounds, Bill may be considered a too extreme, far-fringed anti and would further hamper any semblance of credibility.

      • letherbuck

        Lots of vested interests would like to see the F-35 get cancelled.
        Anyone who has current jets in production ala Super Hornet, or euro fighter manufs.

        You can’t compare a F-35 as apple to apple to ac that are not 5th gen as the majority or people writing these articles do.
        Its got the most sophisticated weapons system in existence!
        Stealth configuration.
        Prolly a whole lot of classified features that would make it very attractive to buyers. As it seems to be showing in the market place.
        Israel is buying it…that tells me volumes right there.
        It is still in its growth phase and has years to go.
        The new 3rd gen helmet is out now.
        The software is gradually improving and maturing.
        They are now cleared for combat with the latest two production ac.
        The new engine 25% better range and 10% better thrust and still room to go.

        What really needs attention is a rock solid advanced AA missile with min 120 mi range, exceptional agility and foolproof acquisition/hi kill probability.
        Make one that melds with the BVR combat requirement.

        • Clark

          Both Australia and Canada Defense Departments condemn it as a poor buy. As for Israel, they still don’t have it and won’t have it until a long time and at this point most opposition A/C in their skies are earlier vintage Migs.
          Google Canadian and Australian Defense reviews on the JF-35.

    • baddboyy

      How the hell did that happen with the kind of taxpayers money they spend

    • Mike

      We must remember Obama back in his first term cut the funding for the bigger more powerful engine for this jet. So rather then build more F22 and F18 and others they lowered the performance curve of this jet and said it was acceptable. Were going to get good pilots killed because of this. Oh wow another Obama masterpiece thats a failure.

      • NathanS

        I’m not sure why you bring the F18 into it, since the F35 is superior in performance to it.

      • blight_asdfljsadf

        F-135/F-136 were both interchangeable, performance difference (if any) unintentional. F-136 was sacrificed to keep the F-35 program alive under the perception of “cutting costs”, when in fact a lot of these systems should have been treated as separate things worth funding and funded separately, with items killed based on whether or not they were any good. The idea of bundling all the things together was intended to protect everything from the wrath of Congresscritters.

        • blight_asdfljsadf

          As an aside, the X-35 demonstrator flew with a modified F-119. Preserving that modified F-119 would have meant one less article to develop for the F-35 program, and perhaps more commonality with the F-119 already in existence. And would have saved us development costs associated with F-135/F-136. Would’ve been less powerful, sure.

    • Gator

      So what was incorrect about the article? We DO NOT need this aircraft!

      • Dfens

        And Lockheed needs that $10 billion check. It seems we have a mutual interest here. Nothing will tell Lockheed we mean business like paying them billions of dollars for failure.

    • Thackmaster

      Countries such as Russia and China love to criticize the F-35. But they were also quick to start designing aircraft to counter the F-35. It it is such a horrible design then stop designing aircraft to counter it.

      • Aleksandar011

        Russian and Chinese 5th generation fighters are highly maneuverable, check out T-50/PAK-FA videos or J-20. The most interesting is J-31 which is based on stolen F-35 data, but it’s highly maneuverable and it doesn’t block pilots back view. It’s also faster than F-35. Even 4th generation planes with L-band AESA radars and IC sensors can detect stealth and pose a serious threat.

        Another danger are ground based systems, even FR Yugoslavia with legacy SA-3(S-125 “Neva”) shoot down F-117 A, and that thing was made in 70’s, has ancient radar, 35km missile range. Now imagine modern AA defenses with PESA/AESA radars, 250-450 km range, stealth detecting ability, unjamable. . .

        And finally electronics, Iran detected and even brought down RQ-170 stealth drone, same tricks can be used to jammed F-35 or it’s GPS guided weapons.
        Days of “Desert Storm” are long gone.

        • Dfens

          The Germans and Japanese had fighter aircraft that were much more maneuverable than ours too. Clearly we need to be more like the losers.

          If two stealth airplanes have been shot down, then obviously it’s time to paint all airplanes dayglo orange and put corner reflectors everywhere.

          • DaDawg


            I don’t understand how so many people miss this! I’m so tired of the military equipment X vs Y discussions happening all over the internet. You’re missing the point!

            Please study military strategy for two days and back that up with some history. It will be abundantly clear that the tools of war are not what wins a battle. It’s the human element! Strategy > Technology / Tactics > Tools.

            The whole point of the 5th generation program is to open an whole new realm of possibilities to our generals. Technology in this instance enables new strategies and new tactics. That’s the point! That’s why it’s worth the cost to our defense planners and tax payers. Are there problems?… Yes. Could it be cheaper?… Always. The point is that it allows for us to dictate the strategies and tactics that are to be used in future conflicts. We can be proactive and force our adversaries to be reactive to new threats. That’s the primary differentiator between victory and defeat.

            The F35 is a tool. What it critically provides more than anything else is room for error. The strategies that can now be incorporated into a plan of battle and the tactics that are now available to the F35, aren’t feasible for our previous portfolio.

            For anyone that doesn’t understand this, an easy recent example: The battle of 73 Easting. If you hypothetically swap the combatants primary equipment the result of the battle is almost certainly unaffected. The T72 is perfectly capable of killing an M1 Abrams or an M3 Bradley in a single shot. Strategy is beyond question what won that battle given the relative performance of the tools used. The reason the Iraq’s lost and the Americans won comes down to the fact the Americans surprised them completely.

            The American strategy, enable by new GPS technology, had the 7th Corps traversing terrain that was thought to be unassailable. The result total surprise and slaughter. Many were killed running to man their equipment. Many more were unable to join battle. This wouldn’t have been any different had the Iraq’s had the M1 or the M3.

            Given the complexity of next generation warfare, this is probably an easier example to digest.

    • dsueii

      Oh look,a lonesome article that stupidly supports the F-35 that has slashed itself for years, that’s, let’s see…a third or fourth.

    • don

      what happen to the minds that built the sr 71 black bird?-it was 60.s ideas-they are dead an very stupid people now set in their place-we can not built anything that works right

  • Joe Sovereign

    Quick we need a Trillion dollars for a F-41 program to close the fighter gap with the Soviets!!!!!

    • Scott

      Cancel the program and break the paradigm of piloted aircraft. UCAV’s could outperform any manned aircraft b/c human physiology won’t be the limiting factor. Hypersonic scramjet missiles could allow us to destroy targets from a continent away. Energy weapons could make naval and ground forces almost impossible to attack from the air.

      By the time ANYTHING (phones, airplanes, software, etc) has reached “Gen 5” you’re fighting for small incremental improvements. Better to look for a “step-change” to leapfrog the competition / enemy.

      • Dfens

        Sure, cancel this one because Lockheed needs that $10 billion check. Then when they win the next program it will clearly be better.

        • retired462

          We’re spending over 200-billion a year on benefits for illegals, but are afraid to waste 10-billion on canceling a program that is way over budget, and a jet that has way under-performed; what’s wrong with this picture?

          • Dfens

            Hell, if we’re just going to write $10 billion checks so we can get rid of this program, give me one too. I’m not a rich Lockheed executive, and I don’t have a dozen or so politicians in my pocket, but I could be with that kind of money. After all, it’s all about welfare for the rich, right?

      • SMSgt Mac

        Sorry to break it to you, but human physiology isn’t the limiting factor, except perhaps fatigue and that can be worked around. Jet engines don’t run much longer without attention over the long haul either. G-limits have as much to do with structural weight growth as human factors, and environmental control systems are as onerous for avionics as for humans. Now add in the mythical to-date Strong AI that would be needed, and we’re flying manned aircraft for at least another 30-50 years. By that time, will there still be fighters? Probably not as we know them.

    • The Ancient One

      Called the ‘new’ long range bomber. You really think they will only cost tax payers $550M a piece, take 10 years to R&D and another 10 to deliver? The same Air Farce who demands the B-52 be kept in inventory for another 45 years, knowing that no company who originally made the spare parts has existed for almost 50 years.

      • sw614

        Do you know what you are talking about?

      • Joe Sovereign

        The R&D for the new stealth bomber is already spent. It was done in the Black Budget, but you are right the $550M price is the per unit price. The real price is much higher. That is what happens when you only build 100 of something.

        The Navy is building 3 next generation destroyers that are going to cost 5 billion a piece because they are building so few of them.

        • sw614

          Same thing happened to unit costs of B-2 and F-22. Cut production run then act surprised at unit costs.

    • @GreensboroVet

      No. We just need to build New F-15Cs, F-15Es, F-16Vs, and F/A-18 Advance Super Hornets.

      • Mitchell Fuller

        Now that’s just crazy talk to do the sensible thing and produce advanced models of proven platforms in numbers to rebuild our air arms.

        • Dfens

          Let’s go back to building P-51 Mustangs. If they were good enough to win WW2, they’re good enough now.

  • blight_

    “performed only slightly better than the F-16”

    Which then suggests that the MiG-29 and Su-27 are superior to the F-16, which is the “change-nothing alternative”.

    Also, why did they compare Su-27 to F-16, F-35, harrier et al? Isn’t that a Eagle equivalent? Is this analyst going to propose tossing F-16, F-35 et al out and getting…what? An all-F15 fleet? An F-22 fleet?

    • Bob

      The issue is that the F-16 evolved from a light-weight fighter design into a multi-purpose aircraft. At its heart though the F-16 was designed to be a knife fighter with AIM-9 and guns. Over its lifecycle it was able to add the capabilities to employ AIM-120 and a host of air-to-ground munitions. But, drop the iron and the tanks it had a good power-to-weight ration, wing loading to allow hi immediate and sustained g-loading and could hang in the horizontal and limited vertical with a -29 or -27. Both Soviet platforms outperforming in the overall vertical fight due to twin engines. But the F-16 derived from the sustained energy is life thought stream.

      We won’t talk about the F-15 as that was designed from day 0 as an interceptor/air superiority platform replaced with our now small fleet of F-22s.

      Strategically, the F-15 was to allow us to gain tactical air superiority and allow the other attack platforms to carry out their jobs. It was a bonus that the F-16 was able to evolve into a self-defending attack plane.

      The F-35 has lower performance across the board in the energy/maneuver realm. What advantages it may have lower-RCS/detectability, etc. are negated by its lower performance relative to the F-16 in an energy fight. So, its a net loss as the F-35 wont’ be able to defend itself as well in an F-16.

      Since we don’t have the numbers of F-22s as we did with the F-15 our ability to gain and maintain air superiority is going to be more in doubt and the F-35 would have needed to be a better performer in the energy fight than the F-16 not a worse one.

      • Josh

        Just to add that from what I’ve read there are no plans to retire the F-15 from service, which sadly is not saying the government is going to buy brand new ones either. I’m not a huge fan of the F-35 either, I think more NEW legacy aircraft and some more F-22’s to go along with fewer 35’s would be a better course of action. However I wouldn’t completely write off the F-35 being beaten in a dog fight by F-16’s, even the F-15 can be beaten by the F-16 in that kind of knife fight.

        • Jim

          I get what you are saying. But Dfens has won me over. If anything if do the buy if the f-35, do the best we can with it, and supplement some advanced f-15’s to round out the f-22 numbers, as well as brining the SH up to advanced SH levels for the Navy.

          The f-35 is what it is but going back to the drawing board won’t help us in the future.

          We’ve lived with non perfect aircraft in the past, we can do it again. And maybe if we hold Lockmarts feet to the fire we can get them to actually make some of the magic work. Maybe there is another engine or engine management system in the future that can squeeze more thrust out of the f-135.

        • Jim

          Josh, I agree. Update the Eagle and the Superhornet as much as possible. The SH is supposed to fly with the f-35 for a long time, so give it the conformal tanks, epe 414’s, and the ISTR. But some new Eagles built to the Saudi standard to round out air superiority numbers left vacant by the early canceling of the f-22.

          And keep working on missile development. If we are depending on BVR the. By God lets make the AMRAAM as lethal and non jam able as possible, or buy the Meteor.

      • The Ancient One

        The F-22 is even worse than the F-35. Ever wonder why none were used in the war with Iraq? It’s stealth skin is very substandard.

        • The one armed man

          war in Iraq: 2003. F-22 IOC: 2005.

        • Mike

          The F-22 has been the envy of the aviation world for decades. To this day, if we station that plane in certain parts of the world, certain countries will see it as a threat and provocation of war. It wasn’t used in Iraq earlier because there was absolutely no need for the overkill. Its expense far outweighed the need for its abilities. Which was biggest problem for the plane, its cost. At $200+ million and no dire need to flex the air superiority muscle, its very tough to justify buying large numbers. Not to mention, Lockheed hinted they could create a lower priced plane that was supposed to be nearly as capable a fighter (the F-35). Unfortunately, the abilities were flushed down the toilet as each branch dictated their requirements. Long story short… the F-22 was 20 years ahead of the rest of the world and we paid a hefty price tag for that bragging right.

          • Mark

            When the program ended for the F-22 each new completed F-22 was costing $127 million, not your twisted figure based on all cost of the past averaged out.

        • King Arthur

          187 F-22’s DOMINATE the air for the next 3 decades.


          USA #1

      • Norman Bates

        Is it me or do I see the F-35B one heck of an upgrade to the Marine Corps Harrier? The F-35C doesn’t quite appear to be much of an upgrade with exception to the Navy getting their first stealth aircraft. Stealth becomes a problem when the mission requires external bags. The proliferation of VHF band radar is also problematic for stealth aircraft.

        The Air Force? Let’s be honest with ourselves. Put a contract out on the F-23 Black Widow and be done with it already. You can’t tell me they cannot be reproduced. It could replace a lot of aircraft and would compliment the F-22 quite well. The only concern is the cost.

        • blight_asdfljsadf

          It’s empty weight is equal to the maximum takeoff weight of the Harrier. It’s a serious upgrade for the Marines…even if the Marines procured an aircraft closer to the X-35 in capability, vs the F-35.

          • Dfens

            Even if the F-35 only had the horizontal lift fan over the Harrier it would still be a huge upgrade.

            The Navy looks to be the big winner when it comes to the F-23. The Air Force will never build those because they’d make them look stupid for choosing the F-22 in the ATF competition. The Navy loves to make the Air Force look like idiots, and there has never been a better chance than this one.

        • NathanS

          I don’t see UHF/VHF radar to be as big a problem as it’s made out to be. It can give you a general direction, but no distance, tracking data or even air-speed. And given that the F-35 has the RCS of a bird, there’s a lot of other objects that can look like them - even over the ocean. They can’t be hidden, and in conflicts they’re among the first casualties, even from traditional assets.

          Even if they are not destroyed, from those who play with the sims that are out there, it’s disconcerting to fly into an area when all you know is that there’s stealth aircraft in the area. Most often the first indication you have of an F-35 (unless you’re lucky enough to have one flying directly towards you IRST sensor) is a AIM-120 only 15nm from your aircraft.

      • The one armed man

        “The F-35 has lower performance across the board in the energy/maneuver realm.”

        That’s not what the pilots say.

        Lt. Col. Lee Kloos, commander of the 58th fighter squadron says loaded F-35 beats loaded F-16.
        Read here:…

        The Norwegian airforce claims that in A-A configuration the F-35 is just as good or better than the F-16.

        Topgun instructor Lt.Col Matthew Kelly and Brig Gen. Gary Thomas says that the F-35 will be comfortable at any type of dogfight
        Read here: … erformance

        Former F-16 pilot Col De Smit says that the F-35 turns like an F-16 with pylon tanks; but it climbs, descends & accelerates like a clean F-16
        Read here:…

        Test pilot Billy Flynn who flew F-16s, F/A-18s and Typhoons say that F-35 can match those aircraft in any maneuvering metric and surpass them in some

    • BlackRayzer

      What are they comparing? The relative comparison would be a .75 caliber musket against an M16 and saying that the musket has a bigger bullet so it must be better. The F35 changes the paradigm. With it’s integration with all of the battle field systems NOTHING will ever get close enough to fire at it. Image this scenario…A pair of F35’s appear in a hostile area. Six or eight or ten Soviet era fighters appear at the fringe of the F35’s range but still outside the Soviet fighters sensor/radar range. The F35’s target ALL of the enemy fighters at the same time. Fire their missiles. And Leave. The Fire and Forget Missiles hit the enemy fighters before they even know that the F35’s were on station in the first place. Dogfight What dogfight? Never under estimate the value of overwhelming force and technology

      • The Ancient One

        Your assumption is flawed. You assume without knowing for fact that ‘their’ missiles do not have the range of ‘our’ missiles. You forget that, except for the ‘C’ model, the F-35 only carries 4 missiles; that the Russians and Chinese do not care about how many they lose only victory. So they send 10 against 2 F-35, lose 8 but then the others shoot down the F-35s. You forgot that Russia, China, India now have both passive and active radar fielded, they will know when the F-35 is there.

        • BlackRayzer

          Ok…So funny that you read the propaganda from your country. Half of the Russian jets don’t fly anymore because they can’t get parts from the Ukraine. And the Radar is even funnier the Russian military can’t get computers to run the most advanced systems. So when you suggest that Russia will overwhelm Nato with numbers I fall off my chair laughing. If you look closely at all of the pictures of Russian jets and bombers currently in use you’ll notice that Russia is changing the plane numbers but using the same planes over and over again. Vlad can change the call numbers but he can’t change the scratch patterns on the planes. Why do you think that they are all crashing. Thank you for your comments. I was having a bad day and needed a good laugh.

        • The one armed man

          Your assumption is flawed. All variants will carry 6 internal AMRAAMs. Also with network the F-35 can guide missiles from other aircraft and even ships. And the F-35s operate in four ship formations.
          Anyone can cook up a scenario that puts any fighter at a disadvantage. Just remember there will be almost 2500 American F-35s. And that’s not counting the allies F-35s.

        • Mike

          The scenario you mention is actually the one where the F-35 excels in. Send enemies ranging up to a 6-1 ratio at a group of F-35’s and they should be able to floor the aggressors without ever laying eyes on them. Granted, for that to work the F-35s will generally be superseded by a group of F-22s to remove land based defenses.

      • Valorius

        This is a load of crap, Politicians will mandate VID and all the fancy advantages of the F-35 go right in the toilet.

    • King Arthur

      how about those 187 F-22’s that everyone likes to pretend doesn’t exist? 20:1 to 12:1 kill ratio against any gen 4+ or gen 4++ fighter as seen over and over again in red flag.

      USA #1

    • Steve Perreira

      The report also compares the little piglet to the F15 Eagle and F22 Raptor. Go read it if you can take the bad news.…

  • RunningBear

    Oh joy, the F-16 flew better than the F-35; what a bunch of idiots. The flight test was to verify/ validate the flight controls of the F-35 with the F-16, there was no competition. This test provided the “in air” comparison of the computer programs of the F-35 flight laws against the flight laws of the F-16 in the “same air” (same conditions). Sorry Charlie, but there was no competition, just validation of the computer programs with the jets in the “same” air….more testing yet to complete….and no, no air to air combat, no missles launched, no guns fired, no winners. no losers…just test validations….yawn!!!

    Reading, writing and arithmetic iare sadly lacking in our basic education system and that leads to this bucket of “mop water”. Pick a vendetta and grap at any straw for support,…another stike out.

    • Kari

      It’s not rocket science. The F-35 was never even designed to outperform any other aircrafts. F-35 is all about shooting missiles before the other. The only problem? F-35 is not really good at stealth either.

      • The Ancient One

        It carries only 4 missiles in order to maintain stealth. The SU-27 and MIG 29 do not have this hindrance. Who’s to say that their missiles’ range isn’t as long or longer than the F-35?

        • Dfens

          Hell yeah, I’ll bet their missiles have a thousand mile range. Too bad they can’t see the F-35 until it’s within a few miles. Maybe they could just spray out missiles and hope one hits. That would be clever.

          • @GreensboroVet

            It has worked before. Besides they carry so many missiles they can afford to do that. 2. Not like the F-35 is going any where. It can’t out run neither aircraft.

          • Dfens

            In a world without physics, you’d be right. In the real world, volume goes up as the cube of radius.

          • blight_adsfas

            What’s unfortunate for the Russian aircraft is that the F-35 on paper will still detect its targets from the usual range, then open the internal bay and unleash its air to air payload against any interceptors in the sky. Waiting for Have Dash to return, then we’ll have stealth missiles on reduced cross section hardpoints. Eat your heart out, enemies.

          • Dfens

            Putting missiles or whatever on wings tends to generate either corner reflectors or resonance cavities even when the munition and the airplane separately are stealthy. Really if the Air Force bureaucracy could switch over to a more successful concept of the kind of aircraft they need, their “fighters” would look a lot more like SR-71’s with internal bays for missiles and a lot less like the F-22, F-35, or F-117. They can’t accept this because there is a fighter bureaucracy and a bomber bureaucracy and the two don’t mix, thus no vehicle that blurs those lines can exist.

          • blight_asdf

            Designing aircraft with one large unitary bay would go a long way towards future-proofing them for all sorts of payloads. Right now they’re constrained to fit whatever was designed for today. It’s stupid.

            Didn’t F-111 carry some weapons internally? “But it’s a fighter-bomber…nevar!”

          • blight_asdf

            Guess that’s why the B-2 will keep flying until they’re all shot down. Has range and the payload to make enemies.

        • The one armed man

          F-35s will carry 6 internal AAM. Remember PK goes down as range increases.

          • JohnnyRanger

            You keep saying that. Source?

          • blight_asdfljsadf

            Wikipedia suggests that Lockheed has been thinking about a 6 AAM system. One link to a Norwegian site (now 404), the other a blurb from Air Forces Monthly that I’m working to find. At present it is still 4 internal weapons, but going up to six is probably feasible.

          • blight_asdfljsadf

            It’s got two AMRAAM-sized hardpoints and two more for 2,000 pound payloads. Unless they’ve designed a mounting to allow that 2,000 pound bomb hardpoint to carry two missiles…

            Didn’t realize that the F-22’s internal bays were shaped such that most heavy bombs couldn’t be delivered. Bummer, but unsurprising.

      • tom

        Didn’t say the same thing when we built the F4 without guns? We don’t need no stinking guns… Our missiles will get the other guy. And then we went to cover the tremendous loses we had against the Migs. We did the same thing in Korea. We creamed the N Korean pilots but Russian flown Migs kicked our butt. There are some Russian videos that have been declassified and interviews with Russian pilot on the web.

        • derf

          The problem with the F-4 was the crappy missiles we started Vietnam with. Once we upgraded from Falcons to Sidewinders, the kill ratio turned dramatically in favor of the F-4.

          In total, gun pods and later built-in guns only killed about a half-dozen MiGs, while missiles killed hundreds.

          • @GreensboroVet

            Sorry dert but you mean when we sent the pilots back to school to learn air-to-air combat ole school style: Navy/Marines: TOPGUN and Air Force: RED FLAG.

          • blight_

            Worth noting that TOPGUN was preceded by Fleet Air Gunnery Unit, which was disestablished a few years before the beginning of Vietnam.

            TOPGUN was established around 1969. suggests 55 F-4’s were lost before 1969, due to a mix of Cannon and Atoll. In the same timeframe, 13 F-8’s are reported lost.

            Post 1969 the number of F-4’s lost is…60, with most annotated as lost to Atolls instead of cannon. One F-8 is lost after 1969.

            It would appear that after 1969 either Soviet missiles got much more effective, or that F-4 pilots became more successful at avoiding getting shot down by cannons. Looking into VPAF numbers to determine if more aircraft were shot down by cannon (suggesting improvement in dogfighting techniques) versus missile (suggesting comcomitant improvement in missile technology). A third possibility is DACT training alone leading to increased pilot survival rates.

          • blight_asdf

            In the meantime, ACIG has some difficult-to-verify numbers for air to air victories for the united states, and along with those of VPAF.

            If F-8’s drop like flies against the VPAF at equal proportions to the F-8’s, it suggests that having a gun doesn’t make a huge difference. In all likelihood the post ’69 DACT training and/or improvements in missile technology result in the change in kill ratios. I shall check the VPAF losses and see if more missile kills are reported.

          • blight_adsfas

            Amend above to “If F-8’s drop like flies…at equal proportions to the F-4’s…”

        • The one armed man

          Well the F-35A has a gun just in case. I think missile technology has increased a little in the decades since the F-4 was introduced. How many gun kills vs missile kills have there been since Vietnam?
          And the Korean War example is just laughable.

      • RunningBear

        Care to prove that?

    • rob

      Reading, writing and arithmetic, what about spelling, I think you meant “grasp ‘ at any straw….

  • JohnW

    None of America’s adversaries China, India or Russia have anything that can match the F 35.

    • blight_asdf

      Depends on the metrics they choose. If they choose straight-line speed or Pugachev’s Cobra, I’m sure Russian aircraft designed to achieve these things will do better. But are they important?

      • JohnW

        Hardly. The F 35 will destroy any Russian, Indian or Chinese fighter in a BVR battle.

        • blight_asdf

          We expect to encounter our foes all the time in BVR?

          I imagine our aircraft will fly with radar reflectors to avoid allowing the enemy to train on how to detect F-35’s…not until the hammer drops. And then they’ll have to learn the hard way how to detect our aircraft.

        • Sonny

          Once upon a time the sight of American troops were a sight to behold and fear:

          Today… the Americans rely on being “BVR”… (unless of course they are fighting hated dictators… or Banana Republics.)

          China shows you the middle finger today… and Americans rush to buy more of their chachkas at Walmart.

        • Chris

          Funny how you all assume BVR is the be all end all despite the fact that it has proven to be extremely unreliable with low likelihood of successful strikes.

          The advanced radars and IRST’s the Russian’s emoy are far more capable than you think and with their ability to fly at higer speeds than the F-35 they can close the gap fast. The F-35’s are going to rely heavily on drones with next-gen jamming and missile systems and will rely on aircraft like the Growler and Super Hornet in the Navy and the F-22 and F-15 in the air force for defense until the drones come online fully.

          The F-35 was designed to be a sensor fusion, data assimilation scout platform with stealth and basic jamming capabilities that works with other more combat capable aircraft to highlight and accurately map out battlefield scenarios.

          • NathanS

            That’s a bit of a myth: in the last 20 years, the vast majority of successful aircraft prosecution has been done using BVR weaponary (i.e. over 20nm). Sidewinders (and especially guns) kills are rare these days. The only instance where this has not been the case is when AWACs aircraft have been unavailable for Friend-or-Foe identification in areas where “friendlies” are operating. The F-22 and F-35 have sensors far superior to 4th generation aircraft, and that includes far superior FoF identification, so they are less reliant on AWACs support.

            US doctrine is simply about getting the shot off first. It doesn’t matter how fast your plane is, if you’ve got an AIM-120 coming towards you, it’s suicide to try and fly straight towards it and ‘close the gap’.

          • blight_asdfljsadf

            Indeed, aircraft that fly towards the missiles are enhancing the P(kill) of the missile…keep on doin’ what you’re doin’!

          • guest

            Please remember this was the same argument used in the ’50s to build planes without guns, and not train pilots in dogfighting cause it was “outdated by technology.” Unfortunately, that cost the lives as well as created many POWs of many US Pilots in Vietnam. I find it interesting that we keep repeating the same mistakes with aircraft combat.

          • blight_asdf

            Fleet Air Gunnery Unit was going until dis-established in 1960. Hard to imagine that aircraft going into the fight by 1965 were staffed exclusively by people without institutional memory of how to fight their aircraft.

            Early kills by VPAF mostly gun, suggesting a deficit of gun combat capability, or too many VPAF getting into gun range. By the end of the war it’s missile-heavy on both sides.

          • Steve Perreira

            In Vietnam, in most cases, the USAF had numerical superiority and more modern aircraft. Guns will be needed when lots or jets are in the air against a determined foe (as in Israel against Syria in 1982) As far as missile heavy, it was lightweight, short-range missiles that did most of the work - those heat-seeking Sidewinders. The same technology, much enhanced, will clear the skies of F35s if lasers don’t do it first. There’s no hiding that flame throwing engine on the fat little pig.

          • derf

            Russia and China undoubtedly will have better radar than other possible adversaries (North Korea, for example).
            But radar and stealth isn’t a magical on/off result. Better radar means that at 100 miles, they’ll be able to tell there is a plane somewhere out there, give or take 10 miles, where a older radars wouldn’t even get that.
            But that’s not enough to fire a missile at, much less one that would have a chance of hitting.

            US Air Dominance is pretty much guaranteed for the next 20 or 30 years with the F-22 and F-35.

    • Chachi

      India is not a adversary of America. Rather they are partnership is growing to undermine China.

      • Chachi

        auto correction screwed the “Their” into They are

        • Sonny

          Did auto correct also screw up the “an” adversary?

    • The Ancient One

      Which is a blessing to Russia, Chinese and Indian pilots. Talks cheap, so until the F-35 can prove itself in actual combat it is all cheap talk about how great it is.

      • crackedlenses

        …and all talk of how Russian and Chinese fighters with minimal combat experience would perform against the F-35 is cheap as well.

    • curtis

      Considering you know probably nothing concerning any of these aircraft your comment is uneducated. To totally disregard the Soviet’s or Chinese technology is narrow minded.

    • Mike

      That’s a very open statement… match it in overall ability, No they don’t. But, if an F-35 found itself in a one on one fight with many of the 4.5 Gen fighters, (Mig-29, SU-27, SU-30, SU-35) it would likely be at a huge disadvantage.

      • Don Crawford

        The F-35 is primarily a strike or attack airplane.It’s not air superiority, it was not designed to compete with Soviet fighters that you have mentioned. The airplanes that you have mentioned are interceptors and pure fighter planes.

    • john

      Wrong, JohnW.

      • retired462

        He must have sent his two-cents worth in during his break at the F-35 plant!

    • King Arthur

      F-22 Raptor’s DESTROY anything from Russia or China for the next 3 decades! Our 6th gen fighters will then continue to dominate the world as russia and china try to play catch-up just like with their pathetic attempts at gen 5’s !

      USA #1 Always and Forever!


      • guest


      • Steve Perreira

        There are not many F22’s. I thought we were talking about the little piglet that couldn’t, your F35. Kids now, let’s stay on the subject!

    • Buck Turgidson

      The U.S had its chance, but blew it. It could have purchased 28,500 An-2’s, simply the finest pursuit ship ever to have come from the drawing boards of man.

      • John

        Now THAT is a funny comment…

    • GAP

      Match what? The high costs, bad engines, inability to use its gun, the software that does not work, etc. etc.

    • don

      your in a dream world-the f-35 is a joke an its on our pocket books-wake up john an come out of the fog

    • maverick

      John, get your facts right, India and Russia have almost the same fleet of fighters with the SU-30, SU-27. there was a time in the Kargil war where Folland Gnat’s killed Sabers and Starfighters, the F-22 is much better than F-22’s. And for china,i dont think any of their equipments work properly.

  • sam

    Thanks to the DoD for designing a “fighter” for all the services. If there wasn’t a need for the STOVL version of the F-35 this aircraft could have been at least as deadly as the F-22. But in doing so they have crippled the F-35 that will now need F-22 escort when/if it goes up against enemy fighters.

    • Curt

      Only the Marine variant is STOVL. What’s your excuse for such a stupid comment? Also, the F-35 was not designed for air supremacy.

      • Thingy

        Yes, but the need to incorporate STOVL in one variant forced compromises on the other two. It’s not a stupid comment. And the F35 is intended to replace multi-role fighters in a number of airforces including the USAF, so it does have to beat other fighters in combat. It’s an F35, not an A35.

      • John

        Curt is right, here. Anyone familiar with the development history of F-35 KNOWS that it was not designed as a replacement for F-15, i.e. not designed as an air superiority fighter. However, it was elevated to that role for the purpose of promoting foreign sales. All of the upgrading in Christendom cannot make F-35 an air superiority fighter.

        • Kitchen Cook

          Sorry, Curt and John are wrong. F35 was meant to be a multi-role aircraft just like the F18. In fact, it is the Navy’s F18 replacement. It must perform A2A in addition to ground attack. That’s the definition of a multi-role. As for it’s A2A capabilities, it relies strictly on BVR and improved 9X missile (with vein thrusting), helmet mounted sites and off bore targeting to compensate for it’s less-than-ideal maneuverability. Unfortunately, once those missiles are gone, the F35 can’t run because it’s too slow and it can’t out fly the enemy because it lacks the maneuverability of F22s or F16s for that matter.

        • dave brown

          actually, the F35 was designed as a replacement for the F16 to complement the F22 as an inexpensive fighter/ attack aircraft in the same way the F16 was the low end of the F15/ F16 high/ low mix. unfortunately it turned into a “something for everybody” aircraft like the F111 which ultimately turned out to be a great aircraft for the air force. BUT, not for the Navy.

          • Dfens

            I doubt the F-35 will be great for anyone, but it could be good enough if they’d build some of them.

    • Mike

      It was never meant to be as good or better than the F-22, but it was sold as a much more potent fighting machine. It was definitely affected as each branch forced requirements on it though.

    • King Arthur

      What’s wrong with F-22 escorts for the F-35? we have 187 F-22’s which DOMINATES air superiority while the F-35 is more a stealth bomber.


      USA #1

      • jeffwlong

        All 183 of them? F22 production stopped as apparently 183 F22’s can replace 750 F15’s.

  • citanon

    I love it, an article that rehashes the stupidity of APA, 5 years late.

    At least APA came up with the arguments. These guys are just morons parroting discredited drivel rejected by every government that has been offered the f35.

    • bart ninja

      because governments only make good decisions…

    • Steve Perreira

      If you only knew what goes into selling jet fighters, the corruption and politics, you might start thinking highly of used car salesmen and Wall Street lawyers.

  • John

    For all intents and purposes this plane should be called the A-35. Air force culture and politics force them to call it F-35. The would not have been able to cancel the F-22 and sell this plane as something that could compete with fighters.

    • don

      its all goverment -you can not built a plane to be a fighter an ground attack an to built one with one engine is stupid-our people in goverment need to stay the hell away from plane buliting

  • Lance

    That’s a real DUH!!!!! Face it the JSF is slower and less maneuverable and carries less ordinance then the F-16 or its Russian counterpart the MiG-29. The only reason its still being pushed on the military is because Obama made the JSF a campaign issue as well as declaring war on the F-22 which is superior to the SU-27. We need more F-15 and F-22s or we will be in real trouble if the President get us into war with Russia over useless land like Ukraine. But hey we still have a year and a half to wait to save the military.

    • John

      Lance, cancellation of F-22 was first pushed during the Bush Administration, by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Despite strenuous objections from all of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, both national political parties in Congress, conservatives and liberals, supported cancellation of F-22 and elevation of F-35 as our replacement for F-15. It is a safe bet that whomever received your votes did that, so try blaming yourself.

      • Raptor1

        At the time of Bush, in the years immediately following the collapse of Russian economy, there was no need seen for a fighter that could battle fighters that for all intents and purposes have not been built to this day - Bush did not try to cancel it, he was reducing the numbers, which IS understandable, It was cancelled during Obama, after Obama pulled Gates in - Obama, not Bush, threatened to veto any bill furthering production of F-22, even with the knowledge that the F-35 was in trouble and the F-22 offered a real opportunity for further development. The fact that Obama refused to even be photo’ed with the -22 in Alaska, and now is taxing the fleet in MidEast and everywhere else, is a disgrace not of Bush, but of Obama… Get the facts straight.

    • GWilliams

      The JSF program was started long before Obama. Who are you people going to blame for everything after Obama is gone?

      • Raptor1

        Obama, of course… Nearly everything he has instituted will be major fires for years to come - Iran “deal”, illegal immigration, fabricated racial crap, Russia, ISIS, illegal health care act, sidestepping of Congress, ignorance of our Constitution, disrespect of his own country, etc. It’s amazing he’s been able to develop a legacy at all with all the time spent stirring up support for racial terrorists, insulting and apologizing for his own people, “reclassifying” the world-wide recognized leader in state-supported terrorism as a group to negotiate with, ignoring educated men who could have avoided his disastrous undertaking against (for?) ISIS, insulting our most important MidEast allies, leaving Ukraine to the Russians after not so much as a real line in the sand,…. Do you need more?

    • King Arthur

      Teabaggers = American Taliban

      • Dfens

        Maybe when someone has a knife to your throat sawing back and forth to cut your useless head off you’ll figure out the difference between a terrorist and your fellow countrymen.

        • A2A4realz

          I don’t count Timothy McVeigh as a patriot or countryman.

      • David

        People who use the term teabaggers are the intellectual equivalent of toddlers.

        • Dfens

          I have more regard for all my fellow Americans than I have for Muslim extremist terrorists. Well, all Americans - 1.

    • sw614

      Actually in non-LO configuration the F-35 carries more than any of the fighters you mentioned.

      I agree the F-22 production should be restarted. Not sure if the F-15SE would be worth the money. Would like to see a single seat version of it with -132 engines to evaluate performance.

      • Another Guest

        @ sw614,

        The F-15SE or designing the new proposed single-seat F-15R Advanced Eagle will be the worth of money. Yes me too I would like to see the new aircraft fitted with supercruising F110-GE-132 or F100-PW-232 engines with 3D thrust vectoring nozzles, APG-82 AESA, IRST, EPAWSS etc.

        • sw614

          Would be nice to produce a couple of each with the bells and whistles to know for sure how well a Gen 4.5 F-15 would do. I think it is worth exploring.

    • guest

      Oh look that word again, “progressive”,
      You keep using that word, I don’t think you understand what it means.

  • Robbie

    Here’s Bill French’s bona fides. Barely out of college, no military experience, not a pilot, nothing to lend credence to his views on any subject, much less the F-35, yet he earns a story here. Must be someone’s brother-in-law or frat buddy:

    Policy Analyst
    National Security Network
    July 2012 – Present (3 years 2 months)|Washington, DC

    Defense Policy Research Intern
    Center for a New American Security
    March 2012 – July 2012 (5 months)|Washington, DC

    National Security and International Policy Intern
    Center for American Progress
    August 2011 – December 2011 (5 months)|Washington D.C. Metro Area

    • blight_asdf

      I want his job. I’ve been on DefenseTech since it was run by Noah Shachtman. Anyone can write their opinion on someone else’s primary research: it’s called a review article in the scientific literature, and they don’t count for metrics in the same way original research does.

    • roosebolton

      Doesn’t mean he’s wrong.

    • S O

      You’re attacking the messenger here, not the message.

      • Robbie

        As I said on page 2 here, I’m really “attacking” Defense Tech for presenting this kid as though he’s a real analyst and for repeating his tired rehash of reporting already done by others. This is just another cheap swipe at the F-35 that doesn’t contribute a single new thought to the conversation/debate………

        • blight_asdf

          Well, calling yourself an “analyst” is really just a self-proclaimed job title (or one proclaimed as being yours from your company). Most of the people on here could then claim to be “analysts”, with varying degrees of success.

          • Dfens

            Bill “self identifies” as an analyst. That makes it all ok.

      • Robbie

        I’m really “attacking” Defense Tech for presenting this kid to us as a serious analyst and for repeating his tired regurgitation of old reporting done by others. This story does not contribute one new or original thought to the F-35 debate.

      • citanon

        More like he’s found the explanation for why the message is so idiotic.

    • Navyjag907

      Thanks. This guy, Bill French, should have zero credibility. He’s making judgments when he knows that two of the three variants are still being worked on and, apparently,
      he has ignored the helmet which will allow the F-35 pilot to engage targets over 360 degrees (firing and destroying targets in his rear, for example) without turning the aircraft. That changes the whole game and makes French’s comparisons worthless in my opinion.

    • SMSgt Mac

      Well in all fairness he has TWO liberal arts degrees in policy or politics or international whatever. I wonder more about the co-author who was an intern. Hope he left because he couldn’t stomach working in a propaganda boiler room.

    • HMD

      Pierre Sprey, who co-designed the F-16 and A-10, called the F-35 a “turkey”. But I’m sure you are more qualified than him in this matter.

      • Mark

        Pierre Sprey did not do-design any of our jets. Go google what he really did.

      • sw614

        He also thought the F-15 was a waste of money. Sprey was an advocate of the lightweight fighter (energy maneuverability theory) and anything else was worthless and not a true fighter.

        His ideas were great, but he ignored the real world TACAIR operates in believing fighters such as the F-16 and attack acft such as the A-10 were all that was needed.

    • IHTFP

      Russia Today material.

  • Pablo

    I’ll put my money on the F-35 any day. Your bogus data shows how much you know of the F-35 program. Idiots!

    • CLH

      How much of the F-35 program do you know?

    • Another Guest


      An idiot like you put the money on the F-35 to ruin any nations air power requirements.

      • Dfens

        You get paid to insult people now and call them idiots? Clearly one more reason we need procurement reform.

  • Pancho

    I worked at a defense contractor years ago that had a product criticized (the Bradley Fighting Vehicle). “Made of Aluminum, not protected enough, would not keep up with the M-1, etc.” During the same time the Abrams M-1 was criticized for being a gas hog (due to its turbine engine) and its filtering system would get clogged in the desert, etc. After the first Gulf War you rarely heard more about this. Both systems were vindicated.

    I have my own worries about the F-35 being designed to do too many things to replace too many aircraft types. After the premature cancellation of the F-22 program I had hoped the US would fund a force of F-15SE in lieu of the more expensive F-22 to maintain a more dedicated fighter. Instead of relying on one type of aircraft not optimized for air superiority. But even South Korea chose the F-35 over their initial F-15SE decision.

    My main point here is even when a weapon seems to be a dud based on analysis of its paper stats, in war that is not necessarily the case. I only hope Lockheed got it right and they are holding back on information concerning the true performance of this system.

    • jlbutler66

      We will not know the F35 true dog fighting abilities until the air control software is sorted out and the maximum performance limits are programed. Like many fighter aircraft,for example the F14,16,18 and 15s early engine performance and or reliability was lacking and was address in later versions of these aircraft and then retrofitted to earlier models. Example,the early F16s had 23,500lbs of thrust. Latest block versions have over 30,000 lbs of thrust. Same for the F15s. Using this metric I would expect the F35’s to eventually have engines producing in excess of 50,000lbs of thrust. That would improve climb and acceleration significantly.

    • The one armed man

      The F-18 SH was widely criticized during its development, now everyone wants to stop the F-35 and want F-18 forever.

      • john

        Not so fast, armed man. F/A-18 is also lacking as a fighter, against aircraft now used by many nations throughout the world.

        • The one armed man

          I know it is. That’s why I said that. It’s a huge double standard a lot of people have. They criticize the F-35 for having poor EM and beatable by Russian fighters but hold up the F-18 on a pedestal as beating everything build more.

    • AAK

      True enough but the main worry I have with the F-35 is that it’s effectiveness relies completely on it’s sensors and stealth, there are no dynamics to back that up.

      Getting the electronics and software working on complex systems is notoriously difficult. There have already been major delays on the F-35. I’d be very surprised if the whole sensor fusion thing, radar modes, and electronic warfare suite truly worked as advertised within a 1/2 decade. Stealth has it’s uses but there is a lot of effort going in to countermeasures.

      And this analogy has been done to death I know, but there is a lot of truth in the argument comparing the F-35 to the Phantom F-4, launched without a gun or care for maneuverability because all engagements will be at long range with awesome missiles. Even if it *could* kill at long range unseen, will it be allowed to?

      • David

        Yup, damn politicians.

      • letherbuck

        Already done.. all the weapons system components have been tested and proved.
        The software and engine development is whats hanging things up a bit. The new 3rd gen helmet was just released so thats done now too.
        The new engine will have 25%+ (200mi farther = 1000mi hop on internal! ) better range and 10% higher thrust. The engine wil continue to develop. So as long as weight stays close to current ac performance goes up.

    • Michael

      Pancho, your point of view is both insightful and logical. Too many detractors here are voicing their opinions on an airplane that is still under development. Secondly, the aircraft has not yet proven itself in combat. Third, the general public is attempting to make their assessment on this airplane without having all of the facts.

      As a former Army officer, I trust that the Air Force, Navy, & Marines know more about the true capability of this airplane than grassroots America does. Therefore, if they continue to proceed with the procurement of the F-35, then I trust that the airplane is not as bad as many think it is…I will admit, I was one of those detractors at one time, but there is a logical reason, outside of politics, that the military continues to invest in this airplane.

      You are correct about the M1 Abrams tank and the M2/M3 BFV…they had lots of critics, but their criticism of those vehicles was forever silenced after the first Gulf war. I proudly served on both vehicles…”one shot, one kill…no luck, all skill” WHOOAH!!!

      • suleiman kahani

        Wow, shooting at worn-out Iraki T-72 monkey models with no gas nor ammunition surely put a lot of ooompha in you!


        The M-1 and the Bradley would be dead meat in any serious war and that only to their internal faults: lack of mobility, extreme ground pressure, gas-guzzling.

        • blight_asdf

          Abrams have done pretty well when they’ve had to be destroyed by Hellfire and Maverick missiles, and when they’ve been shot at by friendly fire, or attacked by tandem warhead shaped charges used by the enemy. Even the Abrams abandoned by the Iraqi army in the face of ISIS tend to be abandoned in excellent shape, rather than being destroyed by relatively light manportable weapons.

    • don

      all you need do is check weight of plane-check thrust of engine-that tells the tail-they have known for a long time this would be a 2 rate plane-but fought on trying to make it one-look how long in develement they have been an cost over runs-their trying to put this plane on a foot it will never fit

    • Mk.82

      “The M1 Abrams requirement pioneered the first PJAC Air Clean-
      er back in 1991. On a 1,560 mile dust course at Yuma Proving
      Grounds, a non-pulse jet equipped M1A1 had to stop and service
      filters ten times. The M1A1 equipped with the PJAC never had
      to stop to service the filters. Now the PJAC is offered on many
      ground vehicles and is used by governments all over the world.”

      That is from the filter manufacturer document. The filter was a problem and a new one was quickly taken in use.

      Sorry but you are wrong as the worries were with the model that was not taken in use until in 1991 when it was found to be true and since then problem solved.

    • Steve Perreira

      Pancho: Koreans are even more susceptible to bribes than Mexicans. Just thought you might want to know. Let’s me and you keep praying LM is holding back. I’m going to pray even harder that we don’t go to war with this plane that reminds me of my first bank account - a PIGGY BANK made of GLASS.

  • Michael

    The biggest mistake that they have made with the F 35 is the vertical takeoff feature. We don’t need it, as history has shown the Harrier’s vertical takeoff hasn’t made it a better plane compared to others. It takes away the space and the plane’s other capabilities. LOL

    • Lingban Tobo

      Would you not be concerned about speed and the payload too?

    • The one armed man

      please tell me that LOL means sarcasm.

    • King Arthur

      they should have made a completely separate plane for a vertical takeoff. the shape for the vertical take-off ruined the air superiority of the F-35. needs 2 engines too. the only saving grace is its stealth and superior radar/jammers + BVR = WINNER

      • blight_asdfljsadf

        The size constraint for the lift system probably doesn’t translate into more cost…it does translate into more available internal room for fuel. There’s a reason JSF-B has shorter range than the other variants.

        In the end the big constraint is the internal bay. It has to be a certain size to carry the desired weapons internally. It must also be sized such that it doesn’t adversely affect the radar cross section.

    • eaglekeeper

      Being extra fond of the McDonnell Douglas/Boeing F-15, I have some heartburn with how much taxpayer dollars invested so far with minimal results. When compared to the reliable track record of the Eagle during the first Gulf War coming off the assembly line and pretty much forced into a combat situation. That should be the benchmark of an aircraft’s sustainability and reliability. The more we rely on technology to replace human ability, the more we are lost. Example being the reason Mac and Boeing made a two seat fighter instead of a single place fighter. Realizing there are two separate jobs at hand. The first of course is to pilot the aircraft to the desired target. The second job is accurate delivery of ordnance on target. One operator doesn’t possess the ability to do both jobs. Your IQ descends at a rapid rate when multitasking, As good as our brains are we are just not up to the task.

    • David

      The B version is for short take off and landing, I guess that fact escaped you and your poorly thought through comment. You don’t always have a Nimitz class ship or pristine air base to take off from. The B version allows it to operate where other planes can’t.

      • Steve Perreira

        And that place where other planes can’t land is where the F35 will die by enemy rockets, sabatage, gunfire, artillery, helicopter, or suicide drone attacks. Right there on the ground buddy, right where that little pig belongs.

  • jlbutler66

    I would suggest everyone go back and read all the negative press the F15 got early on in its protracted problem prone development. It reads like a lot of the negatives that are being written about the F35. For the record the performance goals where to match the performance (loaded with weapons and fuel) of the F16 and the FA18 while being stealthy and much more technically advanced. Looks like it might well do that by the time all versions are sorted out.

  • blight_asdf

    I find it funny how people think STOVL “killed” the JSF. It’s like blaming the wife for the husband “having to beat her”. It’s as comical as the “make the JSF skinny, that’ll solve all the problems”

    • Mike

      What do you think caused the cost problems?

    • sw614

      People tend to forget the JSF predecessor program was all about replacing the Harrier. The USAF was looking for an F-16 replacement. The thinking was if the lift system of the Harrier replacement was removed, the airframe might work for the USAF. Hence the Common Affordable Lightweight Fighter (CALF) program was born. The Bottoms Up Review (BUR) under Les Aspin during the first year of the Clinton Administration forced the USN into the mix and elevated the program to DoD level. Once initial concept engineering and proposals were done the JSF program was born.

      As the saying goes an elephant is a mouse designed by committee.

  • ajfkdem1

    The 35 isn’t looking too good. Not only did a 16 kill it ad nauseam in combat sims, it was soundly defeated by several Su’s in the Pacific Vision war games, routinely getting zapped by 27’s, 30’s, and 35’s. Super Hornet faired only slightly better. Most 35’s and Hornets were lost within the first 25 minutes. The 22 held it’s own.

    Su pilots used the phrase “it was like clubbing baby seals”, when describing the 35’s performance.

    The F35, in Visual Range Combat, is a target, not a player.

    • The one armed man

      Oh wow. Where to start.
      Pacific Vision used a video game with no actual classified information actually used for the F-35.
      The recent F-16 vs F-35 was nothing more than a flight control law test to see if it would exceed its flight limits. And maybe you missed that F-35 4 ships have been defeating F-16 4 ships routinely. Recently 4 F-35Bs defeated 9 adversaries. I think it’s doing alright.

      • Steve Perreira

        Wouldn’t it be nice if the F35 won at something though. That would make me feel a lot better. Like when the F15 was designed, no Korean War jets were kicking it’s butt. Use your head a bit please! This Obese Jet is a complete loser!

    • david

      what r u talking about? the F-35 has never gone up against any russian built plane and the F-22 has never lost to a SU or Mig.

    • NathanS

      Not talking about ‘computer games’ for a second, but real life:

      As reported a couple of weeks ago now, as part of the IoC tests for the marines, 4 F-35’s had to take on 9 opponents (thought to be Marine FA/18’s). It went very badly for the 9 opponents.

      Lt. Gen. Jon Davis stated, “The exchange rates and the kill rates that we had against the adversary aircraft in a multi-mission profile was very, very impressive. We would never put a legacy platform — an F/A-18 or a Harrier — in that kind of threat environment, but these guys went and did it”.

    • Munkeyballz

      The F-35’s downfall, if it occurs, will be due to the ridiculously-complicated maintenance of it’s low observable surface coatings. That and the fact that each engine pull generates a minimum of 7-days of sealant curing for thermal blankets, on top of any other maintenance. Also, the JSO’s adoption of the Navy’s aircraft maintenance concept is problematic at best in the USAF. Already seeing lots of issues at a base that stood up the F-35 over 2-years ago.

  • Dfens

    The Future Combat Systems (FCS) program, now there was some major league waste. Not quite in the league of the F-35, but way up there. We spent $18 billion (with a B) on that crap program of which $2 billion was profit for the various defense contractors involved. The cancellation fees amounted to nearly another $2 billion. We spent $20 billion of which the defense corporation big shots took $4 billion in profits right off the top. That’s all this discussion is about. How can we get Lockheed that $10+ billion check for cancellation fees the fastest? Apparently the US taxpayer never gets tired of being the cash pinata of these huge corporations and their $30+ million a year CEO’s.

  • tostik

    For those of you that think that the F-35 has no strengths in close WVR combat, may I recommend “Fighter Combat: Tactics and Maneuvering” by Robert Shaw. One of the best books written on air combat. Shaw points out that most shoot downs occur with the victim not even knowing the other airplane is on his tail-which makes Situational Awareness paramount, even in WVR combat. The sensor system and sensor fusion that the F-35 has gives the pilot unprecedented Situational Awareness. One thing Shaw talks about is how to enter visual combat with an advantage. The F-35 will be able to pick and choose where to enter WVR combat, or to avoid it if necessary.

    And let’s not forget that HOBS missiles pretty much negate performance advantages other aircraft may-or may not-have. When all you have to do is look and shoot, and you don’t have to point your airplane to shoot, then Situational Awareness becomes even more important than the performance of your aircraft.

    • blight_asdf

      Won’t be long before aircraft simply detect potential threats at all aspects, then simply use simple cues to engage each target. Even an automatic rules-based engagement mode to engage targets that appear on radar/IRST or are fused to sensor picture from other aircraft while the pilot is fighting another aircraft would be helpful.

      Have enemy aircraft harassing you while attempting a SDB run on a radar? Automatic engagement. Go away, I’m busy here…

    • jesse

      that’s great, except the sensor fusion aspect doesn’t even work properly yet, and as the F-16 scenario pointed out, the bulkiness of the fancy helmet actually hindered the pilots ability to turn his head properly, thus compromising his situational awareness as he couldn’t look behind to see where the other plane was

  • Jay

    You don’t have to have been a pilot or weapons expert to be intelligent enough to read a study, or compiled data and come to the conclusion that the plane sucks. Some of you don’t realize that WWII radar detects modern stealth. Those AESA radars on latest block SUs, can see the F-35 fairly far out. Not to mention late model S-300s or S-400s will also see it as soon as it comes into their theatre of operation. Where the Raptor at least has the speed to fire, turn and run, the F-35 is so slow, that it’s lower observability is negated by the slow speed at which it travels.

    • blight_asdf

      “WWII radar detects modern stealth”

      Correction, radar optimized for a different frequency gets better returns because the F-35 wasn’t optimized for them. Throwing in that bit about WW2 radar is hilarious. I wonder if Chain Home would work against the B-2… /snicker

      If the APA reports on such phenomenon are to be believed, the larger aircraft have better RCS shaping against low and high frequency radars. Amusingly the B-2 is the stealthiest shape, and will continue to be for some time.

    • derf

      Longwave high-power radars can ‘detect’ the F-35, yes. So, congratulations! You are broadcasting a screaming “Shoot me now! Here I am!” beacon, and in exchange you now know where a plane is, give or take 10 miles. You don’t know what altitude, airspeed, or direction, but it won’t matter much when the HARM slams into your radar.
      It takes some very precise targeting to hit something with a missile, and no WWII radar has that.

      And fleets of Russian jets with AESA radars? That’s a laugh. They’ve been claiming to update “soon” for 10 years now, but somehow they never get there. PAKs *may* have an AESA, if Russia manages to scrape together the money for them.

      • blight_asdf

        Getting a long wavelength radar system to operate with AESA T/E elements to operate in the LPI mode is not infeasible, but expensive in its own right. Would also have worse resolution and increased power requirements.

        In the meantime these systems would still pick out the legacy F-16, F/A-18. I guess the last question is whether or not the enemy’s ability to counter jammers is as good as their ability to see through stealth. If they have lock-on-jam systems it might get interesting for the Growler pilots.

      • Steve Perreira

        Looks like both the Russians and the USA are in a delay race failing to get things done. At least their jet look fancy and actually make flights at air shows. I noticed the F35 is a no-show, kind of like a stoned rock star on the downhill side of his career. Come to think of it, the F35 is going on 20 years now, about when a Rock Star begins to slide.

    • David

      Stick to arts and crafts Jay. Reading is one thing you still have to be intelligent enough to comprehend what you’re reading and then put it into context.

    • Team_USA23

      I’ll try not to repeat any points made in the previous replies but you clearly lack any insight regarding military technology - specifically - fighter jets. If you have any doubts about the capabilities of U.S. fighters vs. Russian air defense systems; go research Operation Orchard. Back in 2007 Israel successfully conducted a preemptive air strike on a suspected Syrian Nuclear Reactor. At the time Israel used a variety of F-15, F-16, and ELINT aircraft that easily overwhelmed Syria’s Russian made air defense systems. A future version of this scenario would replace all those F-15/16’s with one or two F-35’s and a fleet of “fighter” drones under their command. Speed doesn’t matter when you can’t find your enemy.

      • Steve Perreira

        OK, the Israelis did it easy, but not against Russia, against Syria, after months and months of planning. In a real war you don’t have all that time. And if F16s, etc. did it so easy, why do we need F35’s? The truth is, the Drones were ESSENTIAL to spoof the enemy. No drones, manned jets go down, that’s right now. Very soon, Drones will KILL all manned jets, and that’s a fact. Want glory, go read WWII aces in combat. Now a days, the on-board pilot is the WEAKEST link in the combat system.

  • BlackOwl18E

    No surprise there. We’ve only made a little over 100 F-35’s. It’s still not too late to kill this program and cut our losses. We will waste nearly a trillion dollars on 2,457 of these pieces of crap if we keep going ahead though.

    • Dfens

      Yeah, because we really really want Lockheed to get that $10+ billion cancellation check and will tell any lie to that end.

      • BlackOwl18E

        That cancellation check is nothing compared to the trillion-plus dollars we’d pay them if we kept going on ahead with the program. If it only costs 10 billion to end this program, I’d say that’s not a bad price at all.

        • Dfens

          Sure, give me a $10 BILLION check and I’ll cancel the program for you too.

          • BlackOwl18E

            You’d like that wouldn’t you?

          • Dfens

            Hell yeah I’d like that, just like I was an actual Lockheed CEO.

          • David

            That’s because you’re slow. Building the fleet, maintaining the fleet, and upgrading the fleet is much more profitable.

          • Dfens

            Oh yeah, I’d hate to get $10 billion tomorrow for doing nothing. I’d much rather build 700 airplanes so I have to actually earn that money. That’s not me laughing at you, it’s Lockheed management. They just laugh and laugh and laugh, all the way to the bank.

        • blight_asdfljsadf

          The 10B cancellation cost is just another gateway to 100B of R&D.

          They might even cut it to 1B for you to motivate you to kick off another RFP.

          • BlackOwl18E

            If the total cost to cut our losses in this program is $110 billion, that’s still a steal and that’s absolutely nothing compared to the $1 trillion plus dollars of the total cost of this program.

          • Dfens

            Sure, it the same thing. In fact, I think we should just hand $10 billion checks to Lockheed every year so we don’t have to go through all the hassle of having to cancel program after program. All the Lockheed shills say the same thing.

          • Dfens redundancy

            Jeez, would you get some counseling and medication for the OCD obsession with the 10 billion check that will never go out? You really must writhe in a sweaty heap every night dreaming about this stupid mythical check. For your own health and welfare, you should understand that Italy is producing F35s now and Japan is well on its way to doing the same. Over 100 per year from now on. Bogdan has worked out most of the kinks in this program and I assure you its not going to be cancelled.. Please get some sleep and some good meds… I will write you a 10 billion check if you shut up about the 10 billion check!

        • Mark

          I guess it’s better to spend 4.6 trillion maintaining what we have over the same time we could have spent 1 trillion doing the same job but doing it better for less. Yeah makes so much sense.

  • Skyboy

    We don’t dog fight anymore, the F35 will rule the sky with its new lazers when they become operational, a dogfighter can not outrun the speed of light.

    • The Ancient One

      Eye roll here So the fighters on both sides while wearing their red coats line up and trade musket shot at each other.

      • David

        No, as long as the politicians don’t get in the way, our guys spot the enemy on radar from BVR and fire. Their guys die never having seen our guys on radar. Within a decade or two they’ll just fry the other guy’s electronics.

  • v rakic

    good point. Wasting trillions to support parazites when soviets do the same for billions (without support for parazites). Your enemy is your best friend.

  • Joseph Long

    Let’s get rid of this boondoggle. Engines can catch fire if the fuel is too hot, the cannon can’t be installed, the avionics flaws kept it on the ground at Luke AFB for many months past its star-up date, etc., etc., etc!!! Everyone needs to read “Superiority” by Arthur C. Clarke.

    • SMSgt Mac

      And most of the F-35 critics seem to be unable to breath if they close their mouths.As not one point you tried to make is true, keep yapping (don’t wan’t your blood on my hands)..

    • blight_asdfljsadf

      Sorry, the disdain for new weapons would have resulted in leaving the machinegun and the main battle tank on the table. Thanks but no thanks. There’s a time and a place fo new weapons. Knowing when they’re ready to leave the laboratory and when they should enter mass production is an art in and of itself.

      • Steve Perreira

        Here’s a thought experiment for the manned combat aircraft fanatics:

        Suppose two opposing sides have 10 years and $500 Billion to develop and field an air force. One side can only field manned aircraft. The other side can only field unmanned drones. Whose side do you suppose prevails?

    • NathanS

      Patiently false. A couple of days ago I read a report from a F-35 maintainer, and he talked about the fuel heat issue (and why he says it’s not an issue). It’s got nothing to do with the engines.

      Rather the avionics of the F-35 are so advanced, they produce a lot of heat. One of the tricks the F-35 uses to deal with heat is to pump fuel to “liquid cool” these components. There’s other systems in place then to cool the fuel down through air-flow. If the fuel is already hot, and there’s no airflow (because the plane is still on the ground), then the avionics systems like it’s AESA radar may not be available at during take-off as they will protect themselves from overheating. The F-35 is not the only plane with this issue; it’s just its avionics are more advanced, and so get hotter than most planes. He said that not once has a F-35 not been available for a sortie due to this issue, and even in operating environments in the middle-east has the fuel ever gotten hot enough to be a problem. It’s just something that they are aware of from a risk aversion point of view.

      • blight_adsfas

        I would generally assume that the most efficient way to remove heat is to exchange it across the surface area of an aircraft. However, the more surface area used to exchange heat, the bigger target for IRST. However, if you increase the surface area used for heat exchange, the delta-T per unit surface area decreases. If you only exchange heat off of say, a few of the dorsal or ventral surfaces, versus using the entire dorsal surface of the F-35 for heat exchange, then the emission profile is a little higher.

  • MLaw

    Just by reading few sentences, the “expert” Bill French doesn’t know poo about fighter jets or anything that’s capable of flying in that matter. Things like comparing maximum speed of F35 and MIG 29/SU 27 is akin to comparing apples to oranges. Sure, both are fruits but the are not the same. While MIG 29 is undoubtedly good jet, it has been is service for nearly 40 years. even with recent upgrades, the avionics can’t touch F35.
    The F35 is stealth jet and as such, it would obliterate the MIG 29 without the MIG realizing what hit him. That’s the point of stealth jet, it does not need to be involved in “dog fight” the point is hitting you before you know it. Aside of all the above, not all specs are matter of public record …

    • Edward

      What evidence can you offer that the avionics in the F-35 are so “cutting edge”?

      • NathanS

        Radar: It has a more advanced version of the F-22’s APG-79 AESA radar. The radar is a LPIR (Low Probability of Intercept Radar) which means using is unlikely to give away position. It includes advanced jamming resistance.

        Jamming: While exact capabilities are under wraps, the F-35 is said to have jamming capabilities second only to the Growler. Unlike the Growler, jamming is directive; meaning you can blind one target without broadcasting your position to another.

        IRST: While other aircraft now have IRST at similar resolutions and with similar ranges, they are very narrow in focus. This makes them great at “staring” at a known target, but not good at scanning for new targets. The F-35 has full-sphere DAS, and is excellent at both scanning and staring. It does not have to face another stealth fighter to provide tracking information for missiles to prosecute it. This allows the F-35 to shoot its missiles and turn away, forcing the opponent on the back foot, and reducing the chance of mutually assured destruction. This plays into the US Air-forces mantra of “First Look, First Shot, First Kill”. Furthermore, other IRST systems require un-stealthy laser range-finder to gather distance information to enemy aircraft. This can alert the enemy that they are being targeted. The F-35 DAS system has other stealthy means to gather range information. And yes, there is a plan in the works to upgrade the IRST system with upcoming 4k and higher resolution.

        MADL: The F-35 (and F-22) have a secure, stealthy and difficult to jam communications system that shares far more information than just voice. F-35’s work in teams, and not only share sensor information, but supplement each others sensor information to create a more complete “God’s Eye View” of the battlefield. This can be shared with commanders on the ground or on ship. This makes F-35 excellent scouts, aided by the fact it can ‘see’ enemy radar emissions, and pick weaknesses in their defence network. It then provides targeting information for other assets, such as AEGIS warships, legacy aircraft and drones, even when some distance away. And the F-35 can also guide missiles launched from remote assets, and provide jamming for greater kill probability. This means that even if the F-35 is out of bombs, it is still lethal. This is what they mean when they talk about it being a “force multiplier”. MADL also allows the leader to designate targets and way-points, and communicate complex more strategies, and even work together to make jamming more effective for example.

        Future upgrades:

        DIRCM: Even though the F-35 has more flare countermeasures than the aircraft it replaces, it’s slated to be the first fighter to employ direct countermeasures. It uses direct energy to confuse and blind the infra-red systems of enemy missiles and potentially aircraft.

        Drone Controller: The F-35 is being talked about as a drone controller. Drones may have their own abilities, such as being additional sensors, EW support, decoys, and bomb-trucks.

    • JJMurray

      The “idea’ of stealth may be that you can hit them without being seen but the reality of stealth is that you are only slightly harder to detect. You are not invisible and we learned during Vietnam that just because you can reach out and touch someone with a missile it doesn’t mean you won’t get into plenty of knife fights where your stealth is useless.

      • blight_adsddd

        By 1968 the knife fights transitioned into Atoll vs Sidewinder/Falcon/Sparrow. The improvements to Falcon and Sidewinder were four years too late for many pilots. Also, the F-8 Crusader (which did have guns) didn’t appear to fare that much better than the Phantoms, suggesting the real issue is aerial tactics more than simply having guns.

    • Steve Perreira

      MLaw, why don’t you read the whole report where he much discounts the value of Maximum Speed as a less important attribute. The report really is well written, researched, edited, and sourced. Too bad it doesn’t jibe with F35 lover dogma.

    • maverick

      But they cant come Head to Head with a MiG or SU.Not everything is done in BVR

  • Brian Magana

    As I understand from what I have read the most impressive part of the F-35 is it’s ability to network within a group, using each individual aircrafts sensors and weapons collectively against hostile threats. The more planes in the group, the greater weapon they are.

  • Vince Flowder

    Couldn’t he have save a lot of time by informing us that the F35 only has one engine and the Su-27, MIG-29’s have two?
    Does a single engine fighter exists that’ll do over Mach 2.0? I don’t think so.
    The F35 is the best fighter it was allowed to be. The services made the decision to buy a single engine one size fits all aircraft. It was a financial decision and it’s too late to say we should have bought a bigger twin engine fighter. I know the Navy did not want a single engine fighter and the higher wing load is probably a need for the carrier environment.
    Still, fighters will no longer improve over their adversaries by leaps and bounds, but rather on the margins. Superior training (Check), superb C4I (check) and supported logistics will be the reason we survive and they don’t. If you’re looking for 10:1 kill ratio’s and infinite survivability you might want to try tiddlywinks because it is called Air Combat for a reason.

    • spy 7658

      The F-35 has the most powerful engine for any single engine jet fighter.

    • SMSgt Mac

      The point is that while there are and have been single engine jets that can fly Mach 2, they couldn’t/can’t do it for long (gas or temperature limits). There’s very little operational advantage to doing Mach 2 in most cases for most missions. I’d expound a bit on asymptotic limits, but don’t want to cause anyone who would nitpick on your comment over the Mach 2 thing to get a brain freeze.

    • lookingdown

      Several, dating back to the 60s. Mig 21, f16, f20, mirage, british lightning, etc, etc.

      • blight_asdf

        Add the F-104 Starfighter to the list…another Lockheed product.

    • lookingdown

      Btw, read up on aerial combat. Nobody dogfights at n
      Mach 2. Most dog fights are at high subsonic speed. You cant sustain mach 2 in a turn. The afterburner sustains high subsonic speed in turn and climb. M8st dog fights are only a couple hundred mph faster than ww2 piston fighters, but sustain speed while piston fighters cant. Try a 9g turn at 1400mph and the wings go byebye.

    • blight_asdfljsadf

      So…two smaller engines in the same space on an F-35 is better? Having two of all additional hardware and two two different engines would have eaten into weight, something the F-35 needs to stay on top of. Scaling engine weight down and installing two engines consumes more volume and weight than having one larger engine.

      • The one armed man

        And double the engine maintenance.

    • David

      What’s your point with regard to speed? As far as I know the Raptor is the only plane that can super cruise. I hear the SU 35 can super cruise but I’ll believe it when I see it as Russian claims and engines are rather overrated and often under perform.

      • Dfens

        The F-22 doesn’t supercruise.

        • Dfens

          Mach 1.3 isn’t supercruise.

          • sw614

            Where did you get info the F-22 can only do 1.3 without burners? Other info states 1.72.

          • Dfens

            It can do more than 1.5 for short periods. It can only sustain 1.3. The “cruise” in the term supercruise means it can sustain that speed.

          • Mark

            So the F-35 being able to “cruise” at Mach 1.2 means it is almost as fast as the F-22 by your statement? Till I read different from respectable sources I will stick with published figures for the F-22.

          • Dfens

            So stick with the published information. There’s nothing that the Air Force has published that says the F-22 can sustain Mach 1.7. It can go as fast as 1.7 or 1.8 without afterburner, but the engine is at full power to do that. It cannot sustain full power for more than a couple of minutes, just like every other jet engine. At the maximum sustainable engine setting it will do about M 1.3. Even then the pilot has to go into afterburner to get supersonic. You people should stop hearing what you want to hear and actually listen to what is said.

          • Mark

            Sustained supercruise by definition any speed greater than Mach 1.5.

            Maximum speed, without external weapons, is estimated to be Mach 1.72 in supercruise mode; as demonstrated by General John P. Jumper, former U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff, when his Raptor exceeded Mach 1.7 without afterburners on 13 January 2005.

          • Dfens

            There is no definition of supercruise. It’s not a word. As for the rest of what you wrote, it says what I said. It’s up to you what you do with that information. If you want to read into it something that’s not there, go ahead.

          • blight_asdf

            Also, is it speed of sound at what altitude? Sea level (343 ms/)

          • Dfens

            No, there are very few airplanes that could ever break the speed of sound near sea level. The F-4 could which was one of the reasons it was so successful as a wild weasel. The Mach gauge measures local airspeed, so it would be at 30,000+ ft.

          • Paul

            At arctic temperature, 60k+ altitude and while upside down -KEY(for 0.0 AoA level flight) it sure can do 1.7 mach at 90% thrust at least in NovaWorld.

    • blight_

      High speed is great when you’re intercepting Soviet bombers over Canada before they get to the United States. It’s probable that the manned aircraft of the future will be the multi-role aircraft, with the drones becoming various specialized aircraft. Drones may make great interceptors, called out to zoom towards enemy targets and unleash missile payloads, then return autonomously to land. As interceptors their duties do not require FMV and data processing of video feeds as they would for ground attack. Machine-learning techniques to recognize a Su-27 from a Su-25 upon fusion of IR and radar data, then decision tree traversal to pick the best way to fight aerial foes is a somewhat more tractable problem than picking out a ISIS Humvee from an Iraqi Army Humvee, or armed shepherd from armed terrorist.

  • Mike

    Wow….comparing Cold War dog fighting planes to 21st Century technology where dog fighting is obsolete. You people are smart. What the Cold War planes can’t do it target 10 things st once and prioritize them based on threat from 200 miles away.

  • Robbie

    Apparently anyone who comes up with a negative story on the F-35, even a kid “analyst” just regurgitating old news, is welcomed by the staff here. I wonder why there’s so little quality control on who they choose to quote and reference. This sort of junk reporting does this site no favors in the credibility department…..

  • Anthony

    Last I checked, the F35 will be mostly used for ground attack and not air-to-air combat but it has air-to-air combat abilities. Also, no air-to-air combat is conducted at full speed. In today’s air combat environment, fighting with canons is rare and everything is done from a distance. Plus, they did not include electronic warfare or the fact that the plane has better stealth capabilities than the other aircraft mentioned and that an electronics aircraft would be vectoring the aircraft towards enemy aircraft. There are a lot of other factors that are involved but the main factor is pilot skill. Remember during the Korean war the Mig15 was a better plane than the F86 but the F86 had better pilots.

  • jlbutler66

    Until the air control software is sorted out and the limits of performance are realized we will not know what all versions of the F35s will be capable of. Early F16’s had 23,5000lbs of thrust. latest block versions have over 30,000 lbs of thrust. Same thing applies to the F15. Using that metric I fully expect power upgrades on the F35 which should produce thrust over 50,000lbs of thrust. That should boost acelleration and rate of climb substancialy. The electronics should also experience significant upgrades again based on the history of the aircraft mentioned earlier. My guess things are not as grim as some detractors are suggesting. Matter of fact I read a test pilots report that stated based on his experience as a F16 pilot the F35 he flew would out accelerate and out climb a loaded for combat F16 and match it’s turning abilities. Keep in mind the F35 he flew carried a simulated full weapons and fuel load. He pointed out in real world combat the external weapons and fuel required significantly degrade over all performance. Because everything is internal on the F35 it’s over all performance is not effected nearly as much.

  • Chris

    One has to see the F-35 before attempting combat…I do not think either of the fighters listed has the ability to see the F-35.

  • spy 7658

    A policy analyst does not know all the capabilities of the F-35 like the engineers who design and build the F-35, does not know how the F-35 handles in flight like the pilots who fly the plane on a daily basis, and does not know what goes into maintaining the F-35 every day like the dedicated F-35 maintainers do. What the policy analyst does know is how to gather information from a variety of sources and put his own spin on a plane he doesn’t know a lot about. And he considers himself an expert. That is a big joke!

  • Nate

    I have been following the stories of the F-35 for years now, and I read the RAND report. I think that it is easy to bash something that you don’t know enough about. No one that writes these articles or even comments on the F-35 really know what it is capable of, because guess what — its classified! so it is mostly speculations and assumptions that are made in these types of articles.

  • SD

    Lets just scrap the whole thing and start production on F14’s again.

    • jlbutler66

      You better have your doctor adjust your med’s or perhaps put you on some med’s.

  • Nate

    It really doesn’t matter what the F-35 is capable of anyways, all that we need are its sensors so that each F-35 will be able to control Drone swarms.

    • Dfens

      Right, the next program will be better.

      • Vpanoptes

        Assuming Lockheed isn’t involved…

        • Dfens

          You’ve got about a 20% chance of that happening. Or you could get a real winner like the X-32 from Boeing.

          • The one armed man


          • Dfens

            Funny and sad at the same time.

  • John Bouy

    The only aircraft that the F35 is superior to is the AV-8B Harrier.
    We need to admit this was a major Fu@kup and cancel all versions except for the Vertical Landing - Short Tak-off version. That one is needed on our little Marine Carriers (LHDs) to replace the Harriers.
    Seems to be a good number of Republiklan Senators and Representatives as well as Lockheed officiers should be prosecuted and put in Federal prison for treason. They will be the cause of us losing the next war! … and many, many of our best pilots!

    • BixlerB

      Ya you get right on that.

    • NathanS

      Did you read the article a couple of weeks about the Marines F-35B IoC? As part of the sign-off requirements, 4 F-35’s had to take down 9 opponents (thought to be Marine FA/18’s). Let’s just say it went very badly for the 9 opponents.

    • The one armed man

      Since I’m very short on time and tired of typing the same stuff over and over, I’ll take issue with only one aspect of your post.
      You are quick to jump to partisan politics without knowing that the F-35 enjoys broad bipartisan support. The democrats are just as complicit in th Military Industrial Complex.

  • Firewagon01

    “Russian MiG-29 and Su-27 Top American F-35”

    Hopefully, our fighter plane builders are NOT working in reverse? Not to worry, however! We just won’t fight ’em in the F-35. My son ‘wore out’ - as in consistently defeated - an Russian “Instructor” in a MIG-29, 1 v 1, with the “old model” FA-18 back in ’03 and, that was not the newer Super Hornet!

    A case might be made that ‘superior tech’ is still trumped by ‘superior skill.’ Who was that guy, oh yea, Chuck Yeager shot down a ‘jet’ with his trusty single engine fan job!

  • uplate5301

    Neither the PAK/FA nor the J-20 are going to be operational anytime soon. Both have severe engine problems, requiring essentially a complete redesign. Turns out, making engines powerful enough achieve projected performance specs while remaining stealthy and not burning up is no easy task. One of the five PAK/FA prototypes burned up on the runway, and another was severely damaged. The J-20 looks mean as hell, but doesn’t have even close to the performance it is supposed-to for the same reason. Bad engines. The J-31 is essentially a rip off of the F-35, but without the VTOL capability and two engines……. but who knows when it will actually get into production. Don’t expect to see ANY of those planes in an active air unit before 2020, and with the PAK/FA, maybe never. The Russians have cut their order from 52 planes to 12, and if the Russian economy continues to spiral downward. may well cut back even on that number.

  • ArmedUpdate

    A 2-1 win ratio for the Su-35? How the hell is that even possible?

    The Russian Ibris-E radar is said to have a 400 km detection range against a 1m2 RCS target. The F-35 is (now) stealthier than the F-22, so its RCS will be less than 0.0001m2. So the Su-35 will find the F-35 at 15 km at best. Its IRST the OLS-35 will find the F-35 at 35 km to be optimistic. Meanwhile the Su-35 is not stealthy at will be found over 100km.

    The F-35 carries only 4 AIM-120 AMRAAMs. All can be guided by IRST the EOTS which cannot be jammed by a DFRM jammer. So if fired a the No-escapze zone(probably around 50 km for the AIM-120D) there is a high chance the F-35 can kill up to 4 Su-35s. The Block 5 will allow the F-35 to carry 6 missiles.

    So a 4-1 kill ratio is more like it. if the F-35 gets DIRCM it can blind an IR missile in a dogfight. Also the “dogfight test” was not a dogfight.

  • uplate5301

    You read lots of articles about the F-35’s dog fighting capability (or rather, about its LACK of such a capability), but not much about its CAS capability. It is, after all, slated to replace the Thunderbolt. I don’t see it holding a lot of promise there either. The A-20’s canon is 5 mm larger and it holds 11 times as much ammo. Time on station for the A-20 is nearly three times as long. The A-20 is also heavily armored, providing a high degree of pilot survivability from ground fire. Given the cost difference (you can build and equip roughly 15 brand new A-20s for the cost of 1 F-35), I don’t see the AF actually letting pilots get close enough to the fight for support to be anywhere near as effective. When you try to provide one plane that does the job of several different ones with completely different missions, you’re just not likely to do any of them really well.

    • Mark

      You are not reading the right articles. during IOC there where conditions that the A-10s could not operate under whereas the F35 did and did so with excelent results in the CAS roll.

      During the wars the A-10’s speed made for slow ingress to needed areas of opperations. The faster F-16s and F-18s were able to get on target in shorter time. This is the result. Most of the CAS missions were by the F-16 and F-18 or the Bone than were from the A-10.

      • uplate5301

        That’s an interesting perspective: essentially time on station v response time. If you are running a large ground operation where CAS is more or less an ongoing thing, being able to remain on station longer would seem to be a significant advantage, but quicker response times are the advantage if the operations are more piecemeal… like most recently in Afghanistan. I’ll still be very surprised if the AF doesn’t restrict how close the F-35s are allowed to come to the targets given their extremely high cost and inherent susceptibility to ground fire if guns can be brought to bear. Yes the F-35 can approach at speed and strike without any warning… a significant advantage. But opposition forces invariably adapt. It will interesting to see exactly how. Gaming situations is one thing. Reacting to live fire is something completely different.

    • NathanS

      This was published a few months ago:

      “…Air Combat Command chief Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle is hosting a week-long, multiservice [I would guess the US Army is included] summit on CAS early in March. Among the topics to be discussed are conducting CAS in a “contested” environment, a term referring to airspace that is defended, though not with high-end integrated defenses seen in the anti-access area-denied (A2AD) situations. An example would be if the Islamic State posed a strong threat to allied jets in Iraq and Syria; although the A-10 has an armored cockpit, it would be susceptible to such a threat and CAS sorties would be forced to fly higher and to use different tactics.

      The summit will address CAS as it stands today, as well in the future when the F-35 enters service, Carlisle told reporters at the annual symposium. Among the alternatives, already in use for years, are precision-guided munitions deployed from a host of aircraft—B-1s, B-52s, F-16s, F-16s, and others—to provide support for troops in the midst of a fight. The F-35, however, will bring stealth to the table. “We just have to get to the point where the services all understand what the future looks like in this arena because there is a thread of conversation going on that really has become a little ridiculous,” Welsh, an A-10 pilot himself, said. The F-35 “will be a good CAS platform. It will take us a while to get to the point we want it to be, like it has with every other airplane [with which] we’ve fought, including the A-10,” he argues.

      Some observers suggest the Air Force should employ a low-cost system for CAS where possible. Doing so would require purchase of a new platform—a thorny path amid budget pressure. “A follow-on may be something we need to think about,” Carlisle said, acknowledging that a new system may be considered. “Nothing is off the table.”

      • UpLateAgain

        Excellent reference. The debate goes on, and is obviously not yet settled even at the highest levels. Thank you!

  • BixlerB

    Do a little research on the National Security Network. Tells you where they’re coming from. It’s anything but unbiased.

  • Chixon

    The Mig-29 beats the F-15 on paper for WVR maneuverability but that’s not how it went down when they really stacked up is it? Idiots think they know war by measuring capability off a few paper metrics. The Harrier was listed as one of the seven weapons that won the Gulf War and nobody has any illusions about that plane’s “superior” flying characteristics. On paper is one thing, its another when you’re fitting a component into an actual war fighting military.

    • uplate5301

      Absolutely correct. US forces trained against West Germans flying Fulcrums they ‘inherited’ from Poland and East Germany for years. The German ‘aggressors’ were on the whole considerably more skilled than East Block or even Russian pilots, as they flew virtually daily, and quickly came to know every possibly flight characteristic of the plane. TYPICALLY, on the first day of the training exercise, the Fulcrums had no trouble splashing F-16s, F/A-18s, or even F-15s or Super Hornets. By the third day of training, they could not prevail over any of them. Training makes all the difference,.

  • john

    No avionics or engines in all of Christendom can make F-35 into an air superiority fighter. If, God forbid, we ever fight a real air war against a major adversary, with F-35 as our primary fighter…a lot of our pilots won’t be coming home.

    • NathanS

      Why? The Super Hornet’s performance is comparable to the F-35’s, and yet has proven itself to be formidable due to its outstanding avionics.

      The F-35’s avionics are every bit as good as the F/A-18E/F’s, and yet it has better stealth. Even if your have stealth-detecting UHF/VHF radar, it’s low resolution (due the huge size of the wavelengths) means it cannot give you accurate information such as altitude, distance, heading, or air-speed. At best you know that there’s stealth aircraft in the area. Unless the F-35 makes a mistake, the first sign you’ll get is from incoming missile warnings.

  • Mike

    The F35 can fly faster with weapons mounted which increase drag on external hard points. I’m fairly certain the F35 will out preform the other aircraft, considering its stealth and beyond visual range engagement is possible, where the F35 won’t show up on the other aircrafts radar. Your comparing apples to oranges, the F35 is a carrier launched fighter/bomber. A better comparison is the F22 air superiority fighter vs these other aircraft, they need to get their head out of their butts and order more F-22’s

  • LessOpinion

    I don’t know this writer and don’t want to. This clown has taken a way over blown test result and added his name to the stupid fool list. He has no actual data, facts as to actual performance do not get released to me, you, him, Russia. BOOM! here that? that was your mig 29.

  • jimbu

    i rather take stealth vs a plane that can do 20 flips in air

  • karl busch

    The Russians have a new better fighter vastly better than the MIG 29. They do not have dozens of generals and retired generals employed by the industrial complex that President Eisenhower so wisely warned us. His advise has been ignored for the past 50 years resulting in billions of wasted $ on useless programs such as the VTOL Asprey disaster by Boeing’s Phildelphia facility.. Not only $ wasted but numerous pilots.

    • Mark

      And how many of these does he have right now?

    • uplate5301

      If you are referring to the PAK/FA (SU T-50), there are only 4 prototypes now flying, and a complete engine redesign has been mandated. The Russians originally ordered 52 of them by 2020. That order has now been cut back to 12. Realistically, it will be ten years before you see them in Russian AF units in significant numbers (if then). The Russians design great planes, but seldom get them deployed as they would like. In the end, their economy just won’t support it. They supposedly reallocated the money intended to buy the additional T-50s to three factories producing MiG-29s and two variants of the SU-27 for export…. just to keep the factories open.

  • armyairborne72

    One word sums it up, turkey! One very expensive one at that!

  • Hale Withem

    Like the many dominating US warplanes of the past, It too shall become a rival to be reckoned with.

  • King Arthur

    187 F-22 Raptor anyone?

    USA #1 Always and Forever!


  • arc5radio

    I see the hired Post-itutes are still working these blogs for the contractors. This nasty pig of an aircraft exists for one reason: so Senators can bring home pork and use it to buy votes. It is an unfixable pile of dung and should be immediately scrapped. If you think that the 10 Billion cancellation clause is bad, give this circus show another couple of years and that would have been a bargain.

    • Dfens

      Yeah, let’s write Lockheed a check for $10 billion to get out from under this program because that will send them the right message that we mean business and they’d better not f up the next program. Hell, I think we should start negotiating with terrorists too. Nothing will tell them “we mean business” like handing them money for hostages. They’ll never do that again.

      • The one armed man

        Oh do I wish I were paid to argue with idiots.

        • The one armed man

          That was meant for above poster.

  • omegatalon

    The US DoD knew this was the situation when they were developing the F-35 that sacrifices in performances would need to be made if the design of the aircraft would be capable of STOVL for the US Marines because there’s no doubt the F-35 would be totally different if it was designed to primarily be a successor to the F-18.

    • Mark

      This junk again? There was no metric on the B that affected the A or C varient. It was the need for the internal bay that did this.

  • chuchat

    A single-engine plane The risk is the same, the F-16 not fighting, but crash 6 aircraft in any Air Force around the world last years was not shot down by enemy, but the same crash. But A-10 Thunderbolt have twin-engine it survive more than F- 16 and F-35 of course. F-15 was very well deputy from F-22.

  • Charlie

    If you suspect that a “stealth” A/C is around there are ways to detect it!
    (15+years in the EW field)

  • Mike S

    All about politics and not true defense of our nation. Payoffs and back room deals is common place in our government. Idiots in government and idiots that have voted the current administration in.

  • Ken

    You cannot shoot it down if you cannot see it on your radar and the US is even adding Stealth to the AIM-120’s that the F-35 will carry so that your plane may not even warn you of missiles that are inbound.

  • Dean Agnor

    If it is linked to Yahoo, the article is garbage. You can bet on it.

  • JamesWilliams

    This dog (F-35) don’t hunt.

    • The one armed man

      This dog treed nine last month.

  • Mat

    Yes the Russian were the first to go into space. The male and female cosmonauts back in 1961 and 1965, respectively.

  • sing away

    all techno babble from defense contractors to justify higher costs and kickbacks

  • Vladimir

    Zionist-fascist rejection from conceptions F-15C, SR-71 is an act of genocide of the nations of the United States.

    • The one armed man

      How’s the pay from the Kremlin these days?

  • Michael

    I have seen f16 fly, f15 and I have seen both the Su27 and Mig29 fly in real life. When it comes to pure flying qualities the Russians win hands down. There is no American fighter than can compete not even the F22. But were we win is avionics and engine. We have better avionics, better missile system/weapons systems and much better engines. Most Russian aircraft suffer from engine problems. I know because I was in this business for a long time. Lot of times French aircraft are sent in to do the dirty work because the French build both good engines and good fighters. But they are expensive systems.

  • Steve

    It appears to me a Lay person that if the ruskys 300 and 400 defensives can detect the F35 then its cover is blown and it is soon to be toast. The slow speeds and low thrust per pound of weight will get her killed if the missiles can get a lock. My thoughts are that the F-22 is part of the answer and better missiles for the USA.

  • Scott Meyer

    Yes, a lot of speculation and not a lot of substance from a idiot that probably never served in the military.

  • Highguard

    AF 2025 Long-Range Combat A/C:
    1400 x F-35A
    350 x F-35B (yet to be discussed)
    500 x F-22A
    100 x LRS-B
    12 x B-2B
    200 x F-15E

  • Russell Riechmann

    Every aircraft design in history has had growing pains. The B26, B29 were known as widow makers. The P39 was known to not come out of a power dive. Many pilots bought it that way. Many pilots died due to B29’s bursting into flames in flight. The B26 was called the flying whore because the wing loading was way too high and therefore it flew with no visible means of support. The B26 flew way too fast for landing. But it turned out to be the best twin engine bomber in Europe. The venerable P51 Mustang was weak and short legged, right up to its pairing with the Rolls Royce Merlin engine. It then became a war winner and world beater. Without it our bombing campaign against Germany would never have been successful.

  • NathanS

    UHF and VHF radar systems are huge, easy to detect and difficult to move. They’re easy pickings for cruise missiles. Even if that’s not the case, the size of the wavelengths make it impossible to get accurate information such as heading, air-speed, altitude, and even distance. Not enough to put a missile up in the air. At best you know the direction of stealth air-craft to scramble some fighters.

    But that’s only half the story. The US has several missiles such as the ADM-160, which act as decoys. You simply cannot tell what is a real target, and what is not. Furthermore, some of these missiles also do nasty things such as jamming.

  • JJMurray

    I still say it’s time to take the things we have learned with the F-35 (and we did learn some things) and instead of continuing to try and cram them and more things that haven’t worked so well into a single airframe that has its own problems - use them to upgrade existing airframes or a much less expensive airframe and essentially create a generation 4.5 aircraft until we really are ready to build the next generation one that actually works and doesn’t cost more than we can afford.

  • Qassim

    lets africans see what will happen to us after 15 year latter

    • The one armed man


  • WRG001

    Pointless report by this RU compensated analyst.

    • Dfens

      Yet it’s Lockheed that gets the $10 billion cancellation check.

  • SanDee

    The party of yes has again succeeded in spending more tax dollars on inferior equipment. One more year of insanity to go. (Hopefully)

  • douglab2

    This aircraft was not built to dogfight. What dont they understand?

  • Nate

    I agree, f-35 joint strike fighter, not air superiority fighter

  • David J. Garner

    How long have we been waiting for this golden eagle 10 ~ 15 years ? Has Lockheed EVER met a single target date with this money pit scam of an aircraft ? How many HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS of hard earned American tax payer dollars is this ONE plane over budget ? All you fellas with all this technical data and years of avionic or military experience ARE indeed more knowledgable than the articles author, whom I dont believe implied he was an expert, however if we examine your data it too is based on paper generated graphs and technical projections on a plane that once production finally begins -> WON’T BE OUTFITTED WITH THE VERY SYSTEMS THAT WOULD MAKE THIS PLANE MARGINALLY BETTER THAN 30 YEAR OLD 4TH GEN AIRCRAFT. And that is the point of all this screaming. Nobody cares if EVENTUALLY all the bugs get worked out - nobody cares if eventually the technology we all were promised 2o years ago gets produced , were pissed off its 20 years late and $400,000,000,000 over budget. You just can’t excuse / explain that away. We were lied to , mislead , suckered into this bait and switch con job from hell. You know it - and we know it. And thats a very sad fact. No integrity - No honor - UN American scum !

    • Dfens

      You are exactly right about being ” lied to , mislead , suckered” and being “conned”. You are also right when you say that those involved have “No integrity - No honor” and are “UN-American scum.” The question is, what do you want to do about that? Do you want to hand them a $10 billion check and tell them with a stern face to never do that again? Personally, I’m not in favor of that. I’d prefer to change the system that promotes this behavior. I’d like to put an end to paying these losers $1.10 for every $1.00 they spend on development and then wondering why they drag things out and jack up costs. I’d also like to put an end to paying them billions of dollars in cancellation fees, and then wondering why they only design crap. But then I get paid to think, so I seem to have a different perspective from most.

  • aaron

    Those two Russian fighters absolutely have some tactical advantages over the 35, and the 35 absolutely has tactical advantages over the two Russian fighters. The error in thinking here, proven time and again by those without knowledge of history, is that one fighter can do it all. A complimentary set of tactical advantages is needed to obtain and maintain air supremacy. You need big and fast for intercept you need little and maneuverable for ACM. The two support each other. There is no way the 35 can do it all. Not even the three variants of the 35. Add 22’s to the package. It looks better. I still see demand for 10’s, 18’s, 15’s, and 16’s. The 35 does not do a good enough job to replace what any of these others do exclusively. Maybe there is a place for it, but its very expensive and just isn’t going to win in anything like the others do I think. Thrust vectoring is only good a very low speeds and with few enemy. It costs the one thing needed most and that energy state. VTOAL is only good for VTOAL it adds nothing but weight to the aircraft. So… an impasse.

  • Reloader

    The F-35 isn’t a dog fighter. It’s meant to be a missile launch platform. That’s why F-16s are needed to protect it.

    • NathanS

      Incorrect. Maybe you’re thinking of the F-22 and F-15’s which are our air-dominance fighters.

      Even so, the F-35 will be a formidable air-to-air opponent because it’s likely the first indication that there’s one about will be from a couple of AIM-120’s heading your way.

  • Yon

    That is what you get when weapons are designed by bureaucrats. High cost and barely performing.

    • Dfens

      The DoD is dangling that $10 billion cancellation fee out there as a bonus to Lockheed if they can design this airplane badly enough to warrant cancelling the program, so whose fault is it really that they continue to f up? Oh gee, we didn’t know a “for profit” company would be motivated by money?

  • Fatman

    F-35 designers have been saying from the begining this thing isn’t supposed to get into dogfights in the first place. It’s supposes to use it;s sensors to see the enemy and shoot it down before a dogfight can ensue. The F-22 was supposed to be the air-superiority fighter of the 21st century and it seems to do a pretty good job.

  • Leo Johnson

    I don’t like to mentin the past in present discussions about the present event’s.The mention of the Su 27 brings up the memory of the Iran Iraq war.The Iraqi Air Force at that time had the Su 27 and the Iranian airforce had the F4 Phantom and the F-14 Tom Cat. and these Two aircraft ruled the skies over the border between Iraq and Iran..During the first gulf war Saddam Hussein didn’t send up the Su 27 because he knew that the F-14 and the FA 18 A were Superior aircraft.Sp meother the Su 27 nor the MiG-29 very good aircraft.

  • Randy

    The phrase “out perform” is extremely misleading. I’m not a huge fan of the F-35, being familiar with the platform, I believe we could have gotten a whole lot more for our money. That being said, “out perform” is only technically accurate, meaning that the F-35 was never designed for a dogfight to begin with, that’s the Raptor’s and F-15C role. Despite not being a dogfighter, the Fulcrum and Legacy Flankers would never realistically be able to get close enough to capitalize on their maneuverability advantage, even if F-22s or F-15s weren’t there to sweep the skies of airborne threats. The Air Force doesn’t fight wars with just one platform, we develop multiple platforms that excel at different mission sets and INTEGRATE them with other assets to leverage their maximum capabilities…that and training is what makes our Air Force the best in the world. The F-35 isn’t great, but MiG-29s and Su-27/30s pose much less of a threat than this article suggests.

  • David

    I love how people who have never designed, developed, or built anything in their life think they are experts at designing, developing , and producing advanced aircraft. Most of you don’t seem to understand that nothing ever is designed perfectly and that all designs have development issues, particularly when integrating/developing new technologies.

    • Dfens

      Uh, unless I design it, naturally…

  • jpl

    No mention ,of the Euro fighter,or ,french fighter,..?

  • Joe

    That’s why the Black Widow II would had been the choice to build. Much faster and room for weapons. Not like this Fat Cow. I don’t know who got paid to choose the F-35 . Big Mistake!

    • Dfens

      The choice wasn’t so bad as what they had to choose from. I mean, between the X-35 and the X-32, really? It makes you wonder how drunk they had to be to choose either one. The YF-23 on the other hand, hell yeah. It even has room for a vertical lift fan.

  • msgingram

    If those speed figures are correct we are in for lots of problems if and when we must encounter those aircraft in combat as there is “a need for speed”.

  • Da_Bunny

    A single engine fighter, designed to rely on stealth, at the expense of flight performance, won’t do well against twin engine fighters designed for close-in dog fighting, in a dog fight. The entire F-35 community has been up front about that from the start of the program. The F-35 is not a dog fighter. The F-35 is also years late in it’s development, giving potential adversaries ample opportunity to develop countermeasures.

    • Mark

      Yet went placed in combat role against other air combat planes the F-35 owns them during exercises. At no time has the F-35 been “shot down.”

  • Guest

    Is Bill French referring to the fleet of MiG 29s that are grounded because they can’t stay in the sky?

  • eaglekeeper

    Lets see, what can I compare to the F-35? Right off a Rube Goldberg project comes to mind. Or throwing money down a bottomless well? The reason I say that is the amazing F-15 air combat victories vs loss ratio. After inception and development and production, the Israeli Air Force soon showed the world the capabilities of the F-15 Eagle. Prior to the Eagles introduction, they didn’t have aircraft with the capabilities of the Eagle. They desperately needed the Eagle. It gave them an extra boost for their country’s survival. Can the F-35 say the same thing? Or will it in the future?

  • joep

    If there is a question about the F-35 vs. the F-16, then have more testing and dogfighting done including the F-15 and F-18 Super Hornet. What about the F-22? I’ve only heard of onetime the F-35 went up against the F-16. Will all the fly time pilots get, let them duke it out and get the facts straight. I’m sure the US has MIG 29’s and SU’s to see how they compare.

  • Charlie D

    Most comments here just repond to this article on DT. Read the full report and then come back. It’s not as bad as this article make it sound.

  • Tim

    That “F” in “F-35” again, jeez! Perhaps A-35 would of been more appropriate. F-111/F-117… get it?

    • Dfens

      Pilots who fly “A” airplanes don’t get as many women.

      • Dfens

        Sorry, I mean babes.

    • Mark

      Yet every air encounter to date in exercises resulted in total victory for the F-35s.

  • Jim

    The bottom line is no one will ever know the truth about the real performance characteristics. The Govt acquisition program is so corrupt, it’s sole PR campaign is designed to keep outsiders ignorant. Contractors will lie to keep from being penalized. The Colonels and Generals will lie to protect the contractors so they can have a job when they retire from the military. Right now the F-35 is a piece of crap. Maybe in another 10-15 years and another billion dollars over budget it might turn out to be worth something. Let’s just hope the poor guys getting stuck having to fly the thing in combat don’t find out the hard way.

    • Mark

      The actual people who fly it know. My question is why are you not believing them?

  • hiwarmgun

    Critics also said the AH64 Apache, M1 Abrams, F-14. F-15, F-16 and F-18 couldn’t possibly succeed against Russian designs. Until they did- and in very lopsided victories too. The critics usually turned out to be leftwing think tanks or left-leaning and self-appointed experts. (Sound familiar?) The problem with getting to the truth is finding a source of info that doesn’t have an agenda, and until is real F-35 meets a real SU-27, good luck with that.

  • http://aw 12


  • ToBeSeen

    My 2 cents. Wars are not won by single aircraft combat engagements. We don’t start wars by sending in our single best aircraft against an adversaries single best aircraft. So the F-35 radar is good out to 120miles, so what, the AWACs that sitting in the area of engagement has an “unclassified” radar range of 250 miles. It will see anything out there before either US or Russian fighters enter the area. The benefit of being able to see your adversary before they see you is you can choose to engage or not engage. Once you know where he is, you can stay outside his range of detection and pick your own timing on engaging him, (i.e. what till he flies past you and come up from behind where his radar will never see you even at close range..(i.e. F-22/Iranian engagement) Or let multiple F-35’s sit outside the field of opportunity from the adversary that will pass on targeting information to a single hunter killer F-35 (F-22).

    If you know there is a rattlesnake under a rock and you know his effective strike range, you have the advantage of picking and choosing when/how to attack. Yes if you get within his effective strike range and he bites you, you may die, but if you stay outside his strike range you can wear him down and ultimately kill him.

    And if I remember reading somewhere correctly, there were over 100000 air sorties during the first Gulf war of which less than 20 were designated as actual A2A engagements. And most were AWACs controlled/vectored.

    The other reasons most military systems cost so much is because the brass keep changing the line in the sand for what systems should do or they simply set the goal post too high for the current state of technology.

  • blight_asdf

    Given the last dustup by the Navy with the contractors over A-12, there’s a good chance they might actually go that way again. Flying Dorito pissed the Navy off big time.

    • blight_

      On the plus side for contractors they didn’t pay back the full development cost to the government, so that’s a win for the shareholders. The fact that government lost last time might deter them from going the cancel-forced-reimbursement route. However, any cost recovery will go a long way.

  • Roland

    We probably need to resurrect YF-23 fpr defense and let our Mom and Dad work on it. YF-23 have great in aerodynamic designs.

  • oblatt23

    There are thousands of Lockheed employees who will lose their jobs when the F-35 is cut back and canceled. You see many of them here telling us how the F-35 disaster is somebody else fault or that it doesn’t matter that its a failure.

    The government needs a program to protect other industries from the effects of these people. Otherwise the damage that the F-35 has done to America will continue as they go on to destroy other projects.

  • blight_asdfljsadf

    While I’ve thrown cold water on the whole avionics thing before, I find:

    Based on supersonic F-8, but delivers the first HUD and advanced for its day computing capability. Not bad for the ’70s. By using the F-8 as a starting point, development is accelerated, leaving engineer/manager effort for the other important things.

    While we’re at it, the forgotten legacy of early PGM begins at the end of WW2. Fritz X and the American AZON. These the Bullpup/Walleye, then the weapons of today.

    What’s funny is that the old 250 pound Bullpup (though the 1,000 pounder appeared too late) failed to take out targets than Thanh Hoa…will we have this problem with SDB/SDB2?

  • William_C1

    For a “think tank” these guys aren’t too professional. I like how their analysis of sustained turn rates doesn’t even mention the (unknown) altitude the turn rate numbers for the F-35 are at. Does anybody here think a F-16 which can sustain 9G at low altitudes when clean will do it loaded at 30,000 feet? Nope.

    • Dfens

      It will pull 9g’s, but it will slide through the turn a lot more. The wing loading goes up significantly.

  • John Scior

    A few things to keep in mind :

    The human body can only withstand so much forces and therefore even if it is possible to design an air fighter with better technical specifications, the pilots themselves might not be able to take advantage of these factors.

    I myself do not agree with the F35 strategy. I was more in favor of an F-22 buildout. However,these comparisons are a bitflawed.The F35’s advantage is in Stealth characteristics. While more advanced ground radars might be able to locate an F-35, i question if a fighter would be able to spot it or going a step further, would the radar tracking missile have the capability to track an F-35 target to a kill position ??

    The strategy in my opinion of the F-35 is to use it in combination with decoy missiles against an enemy to wipe out the opponents ground radars, fighters, supply depots etc by utilizing its low detectability features in a first strike capability. If this is successful, then who needs an”air superiority” fighter because you’ve wiped out the opponents abilityto challenge you in the airspace.

    After achieving air dominance,one can simply pound the crap out of the enemy below and soften them up until ground forces can mop up any resistance.

  • marko

    Perhaps the russians could be asked to help: maybe license MiG-29 designs or even sell a couple.

  • Zhopa

    Do they still use tube radios?

  • strykerfire

    It’s funny how these analysts and reporters (or anyone in fact) act like they know the jet more than the people who fly them or work on them.

  • Garrett

    I read the report so you don’t have to, but you should. The report’s bibliography is almost entirely web based recycling of other popularly reported criticisms from the aviationist,, warisboring et. al. I am massively underwhelmed. The best thing they do is to quote some specs from Janes.

    The report doesn’t attempt to analyze the purported technological jump sensor fusion of the F-35 is alleged to have or whether it is effective. This alone is a glaring shortfall. The F-35’s greatest reported asset is its ability to passively detect an enemy outside of the range of the enemy’s sensors.

    Stealth is analyzed, but the attempt is sophomoric. It implies that future radars will fully defeat stealth which shows that the author does not understand stealth. Stealth is only a tool to further reduce the range of the enemies sensors, but since the author doesn’t attempt to analyze the F-35’s greatest advertised asset, he misses the point.

    It assumes the F-35 is fighting without tanker support and is range challenged.

    The report mostly conflates all three version of F-35 with a conflated unspecified version of the su-27 to call all versions equally inferior in aerobatics. Then it conflates aerobatics with combat performance. It is well known that the su-27 loses a massive amount of airspeed to attain its maneuverability which is a dubious dog-fighting advantage.

    Weapons performance (other than a numerical hard-point count) is also not analyzed. The F-35 loses the weapons pylon count because hard-points are conflated with combat effectiveness which the F-35 loses because in stealth configuration, it doesn’t have as many hard points as an Su-37.

    The conclusion that the F-35 cannot be a CAS platform because it lacks the design criteria of the A-10 is dubious. My understanding is that GPS slaved small diameter bombs, carried in large numbers are the replacement for the A-10 and will be more effective at CAS with less likelihood of blue-on-blue since the ground troops are providing the telemetry for the bomb.

    D+ report.

    • blight_asdf

      For the masses, “stealth” is 100 % cloaking devices, smart bombs never hit where they’re not supposed to (implying that we love dropping bombs on mosques and small children)…

      • blight_asdf

        People assume stealth is magic invisibility cloak. It’s more like the transition from bright red coats to multicam. You can’t spot them from 1,000 meters away, but they’re not exactly invisible…just closer than you thought.

  • Steve Perreira

    OK, now I get it, the lifers on can’t get enough of a fat jet that has all the look of the quintessential Pentagon profile. Everywhere else, 90% of the people posting know that the F35 is one huge loser. When I was in for 4 years, USAF, we used to say lifers were “ate up” (means brain dead). Not much has changed.

  • @JennyTheDoll

    Firmware in the flight control computer & avionics are constantly being updated for improved performance. Not so with the ‘iron annies’ Mig29/SU 27 or even the fault ridden PAK-50.
    Those ‘iron annies’ are truly flying radar refectors for a little while until an AMRAAM blows them out of the sky. The PAK-50 engines self destruct on a regular basis on just the takeoff roll…..

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