I was going through some older references and came upon this quote from a Defense Industry Daily report (1) that stunned me.
“The F-35’s explicit design goal has been stated as being the F-16’s equal in in air to air combat …”
What?! We’re spending a gazillion dollars on a plane that’s only supposed to be as good as an F-16?
OK, I’m not an expert on the JSF program by any means so I’m not going to attempt any further analysis of that statement. I’m simply going to leave it there for you to consider.
I will, however, give you a couple of related thoughts cited in another Defense Industry Daily report (2).
|JSF - Equal to a Hornet or F-16?|
- The F-35C will have a slightly lower maximum G-force maneuvering limit than the current Hornet. Again, the suggestion is that our next generation fighter is going to be as good as our current Hornets.
I’ll be fair and say that the F-35 has some advanced technology built in that other aircraft don’t but whether those balance out the apparently mediocre air-to-air performance remains to be seen. As I said, I can't fairly analyze this further but these kinds of snippets aren't exactly encouraging. I've thought from the begining that the F-35 was just a stealthier version of the Hornet with no significant performance enhancements and these tidbits tend to confirm that impression. Anyone have a different take on it?
(1) Defense Industry Daily, http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/The-F-35s-Air-to-Air-Capability-Controversy-05089/,
(2) Defense Industry Daily, http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/F-35-Lightning-The-Joint-Strike-Fighter-Program-2012-07501/,