The Great F-35 Dogfighting Controversy
(Source: compiled by published July 03, 2015)
The debate now is not about who won the dogfight, and how, but whether the F-35 has again failed to deliver what its makers promised. (USAF photo)
PARIS --- The original report in which an F-35 pilot recounted how he lost a dogfight against an older F-16, originally published in’s War Is Boring blog, has attracted a huge amount of online buzz.

Below, we have compiled links to the original material, as well as to the most significant commentary pieces we have found.

The Original Story

Test Pilot Admits the F-35 Can’t Dogfight: New Stealth Fighter Is Dead Meat In An Air Battle

(Source: War is Boring blog; posted June 29, 2015)

A test pilot has some very, very bad news about the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The pricey new stealth jet can’t turn or climb fast enough to hit an enemy plane during a dogfight or to dodge the enemy’s own gunfire, the pilot reported following a day of mock air battles back in January.

“The F-35 was at a distinct energy disadvantage,” the unnamed pilot wrote in a scathing five-page brief that War Is Boring has obtained. The brief is unclassified but is labeled “for official use only.” (end of excerpt)

The F-35 Pilot’s Original Dogfight Report

F-35A High Angle of Attack Operational Maneuvers

Aviation Week obtained and posted on its website the original pilot’s report (5 PDF pages) on this dogfight test, which was the basis of the July 1 “War Is Boring” report.

The Defense

Joint Program Office Response to “War is Boring” Blog

(Source: F-35 Joint Program Office; issued July 01, 2015)

The media report on the F-35 and F-16 flight does not tell the entire story. The F-35 involved was AF-2, which is an F-35 designed for flight sciences testing, or flying qualities, of the aircraft. It is not equipped with a number of items that make today's production F-35s 5th Generation fighters. (end of excerpt)

You Say The F-35 Can’t Dogfight? I Say Good

(Source: Lexington Institute; issued June 30, 2015)

A report is making the rounds of defense blogs of a test of the F-35A’s close-in dogfighting capability. According to this report, the F-35A was significantly less maneuverable than the opposing aircraft, an F-16C, and was at a distinct disadvantage when it came to a duel involving cannons.

The bevy of committee critics of the Joint Strike Fighter have jumped on this report as further evidence that the aircraft is inferior to those it is intended to replace and the program is a failure. (end of excerpt)

(Editor’s Note: The Lexington Institute is a privately-owned lobbying company which is partly financed by F-35 prime contractor Lockheed Martin as well as other major US defense manufacturers—Ed.)

English translation: Dogfighting and the F-35

(Source: Norwegian F-35 Program Office; issued July 02, 2015)

Recently I have been working on a post on the F-35 and «dogfighting» and after new allegations have surfaced concerning the effectiveness of the F-35 in this area (or lack of such) it becomes even more relevant. In this post I will therefore try to elaborate a bit more on air-to-air combat and which factors help determine its outcome.

(The author of this piece, Captain Morten Hanche, is a F-16-pilot with the Royal Norwegian Air Force, and has been picked to lead Norwegian Operational Testing & Evaluation of the F-35.)

The Offense

F-35 not supposed to be as maneuverable as an F-16? That's not what they said originally!

(Source: SNAFU blog; posted July 02, 2015)

The official version of those opinions was issued by the F-35’s Joint Program Office: “The F-35’s technology is designed to engage, shoot, and kill its enemy from long distances, not necessarily in visual “dogfighting” situations. There have been numerous occasions where a four-ship of F-35s has engaged a four-ship of F-16s in simulated combat scenarios and the F-35s won each of those encounters because of its sensors, weapons, and stealth technology.”

Really? Seriously?

That's not what Col. Gary Cooper II, F-35 combined test director said in 2009. via Airman Magazine... "We expect the F-35 to be operationally capable by 2013," said Col. Gary Cooper II, F-35 combined test director….It has improved combat maneuverability over present fighters, it has increased range and the heads-up display is not viewed in the cockpit but inside the pilot's helmet visor.

And then this from the same article...

"Overall, I was impressed by how well the entire first flight came together," said Jon Beesley, Lockheed Martin's chief test pilot for the F-35. ….Much of this is due to the fighter's advanced avionics, advances that give the F-35 greater agility and the ability to outperform opposing forces with unmatched aerial maneuvering.

What does this all mean?

It means the Program Office is once again "spinning" the facts. Naw, let’s be real....they're lying their [xxxx] off.

We were promised eye watering maneuverability and now they're trying to back off the promise with the help of friends in the media. Consider this a service to those who want a clear eyed view of things....excuses work for 5 year olds, not multi-million billion, damn near a billion trillion dollar defense projects.

Sidenote: 2009 too far back for your taste? Well Jokuvaan found this 2014 Breaking Defense quote from General Hostage...
The F-35, he says, has “at least” the maneuverability and thrust and weight of the F-16. (end of excerpt)

When Is the F-35 Not a Dogfighter? When It’s Convenient. Lockheed and the Pentagon keep moving the goalposts

(Source: War Is Boring blog; posted July 2, 2015)

In January 2015, a single-seat F-35A Joint Strike Fighter fought a mock aerial battle with a considerably older, two-seat F-16D … and lost. That’s according to an unclassified test report that highlighted a number of serious and potentially deadly flaws in the basic design of the new, Lockheed Martin-made F-35.

Lockheed’s public relations team fired back. The company insisted that the JSF will be just fine in combat — and it’s not really a close-in dogfighter, anyway.

“The media report on the F-35 and F-16 flight does not tell the entire story,” Lockheed stated in a July 1 press release. “The F-35’s technology is designed to engage, shoot and kill its enemy from long distances, not necessarily in visual ‘dogfighting’ situations.”

But what the Texas-based defense contractor — and the Pentagon — do not mention is that they have subtly shifted the goalposts for the F-35 as the stealthy fighter has failed to live up to expectations over the years. In contrast to current rhetoric, proponents once sold the JSF as a dogfighter.


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