To be honest, this F-35 fighter jet High-AOA testing video has nothing to be impressed of

May 21 2013 - 28 Comments

I’ve seen the video released yesterday by Lockheed Martin at least a couple of time. Still, I struggle to find something to be impressed of.

The video was taken during a series of F-35A high angle of attack (AOA) testing that was recently completed.

According to LM: “The testing accomplished high AOA beyond both the positive and negative maximum command limits, including intentionally putting the aircraft out of control in several configurations. This included initially flying in the stealth clean wing configuration. It was followed by testing with external air-to-air pylons and missiles and then with open weapon bay doors.  The F-35A began edge-of-the-envelope high AOA testing in the Fall 2012.  For all testing, recovery from out of control flight has been 100 percent successful without the use of the spin recovery chute, which is carried to maximize safety.”

Some media outlets that received the release published interesting reviews about what they defined “shocking” or “most awesome” footage ever seen, allegedly showing the aircraft’s superior maneuverability.

AF-4 Flight 148 Hi AOA

Image: U.S. Air Force

Few weeks ago, Bill Flynn, Lockheed test pilot responsible for flight envelope expansion activities for the F-35, told Flight Global that all three variants of the Joint Strike Fighter will have better kinematic performance than any fourth-generation fighter plane with combat payload, including the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

Such claims were strongly disputed by a Eurofighter Typhoon industry test pilot, who debunked all Flynn’s “theories” about the alleged superior F-35 performance.

The F-35 maneuverability shown in the video seems far to be special. Have you ever seen what a Su-27, a Mig-29 a Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor, with the latter highly facilitated by thrust vectoring engines, can do?

Even the SAAB Draken was capable to perform a “Cobra” some 40 years ago

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  • viulenz

    so what?

  • James Hantz

    Just hype, honestly the Raptor should have been the one, but defiantly a big waist and so much Dev cost. Boeing’s 5th gen design was cheaper and easier to build with the delta stealth design. Honestly these contractors should be punish for stretching development cost at the tax payers expense.

    • james P

      Defiantly huh?

  • Jackma

    Seriously, since you were never a fighter pilot – and therefore have never flown a fighter – what do you know about any of this?

  • wolfsdarkshadow

    What do you need to be impressed with, these are standard test?

  • JAFF3

    Just Buy the SU35 simply better cheaper, faster, higher, longer range, more load etc.. ok less stealthy but is the future of airpower going to be decided by 1 trick when already experimental radars can already see through stealth.

    • patofeo

      “Experimental radars can already see through stealth”?? You fail to understand how radars work; a lower radar return will always be an advantage no matter how powerful or advanced the radar. This is physics. However, the Su-35 is indeed a beast of a kinematic platform testament to great design work.

    • MK.82

      And as Su-27/Su-35 includes a DRMF, it does not need stealth materials to shorten the detection range as you simply see the target as ghost in totally different place than where it actually is. As so many today use DRMF technology, it provides better results than any “stealth” technology what you can not change afterwards. And as these “Stealth fighters” can be spotted from max range and guide fighters to their location, it is no huge use unless you are fighting against country what has 3rd generation fighters with old radars and no AWACS or ground radar stations.

  • Esteven Damian Tineo Mateo

    The main thing is that unfortunately America has adopted a position since the Korean war, that the best way to win a dogfight is… to not dogfight at all… Its all a game about who gets to see who and when. Its all about “U cant see me” type of game. Future air combat will be decided by stealth unfortunately

    • R Valencia

      F-15/F-16 restores dog-fighting capability over the F-4.

  • Mishu

    Bill Flynn refers to a çombat payload’, meaning two heavy LGB’s, two AMRAAms and fuel. In that configuration the F-35 is indeed more manoevrable than 4th gen.
    A clean Typhoon, or with AAM’s only and no droptanks, will no doubt be more manoevrable. But a fighter without sufficient fuel or payload is rather useless and only suited for airshows.

    • R Valencia

      It’s also suited for running away after it drops it’s combat loads.

  • Albino Guevara

    Some f-35 and f-22’s air capabilities are top secret. Why would they show to the public their trump-card? Lockheed aren’t incompetent to build these expensive fighter jet without sure win in air to air combat.

  • Snap. Snap. Snap.

    Not impressed.

  • MK.82

    “Russian fighter planes since the cold war have always depended on a big radar on the ground detecting targets & telling the Migs when the threat is.”

    That is the deal, AWACS and long range radar stations spots every “stealth fighter” from maximum range. Fighters with a smaller radars can not do it but it isn’t required as you get the target data from others. Then it comes superiority that launching a semi-active radar seeking missile to intercept and once it is close enough it will lock to you no matter where you sit as you are visible target to it.

    Instead trying to be “stealth”, it is better to fake where you are by sending fake signal back from your location where radar guided missile locks and explodes itself.

    • R Valencia

      Note that stealth enhances the aircraft’s countermeasures.

  • R Valencia

    On A2A, F-35 > F16 and F-35 > F18 E/F.


    Lockheed Martin wrote: “One of the challenges we had was to make an airplane that had the low speed characteristics of the Hornet and the high speed of an F-16.
    The Hornet can fly slow extremely well and get to high angles of attack and point the nose all around. The F-16 can’t do that as well, but the F-16 can fly extremely fast and can recover energy quickly. The Hornet does not do that very well. Once they get into an energy deficit, it’s hard for them to recover because of the low thrust to weight ratio and the aerodynamic penalty of sensors and weapons in the airstream.
    The F-35 incorporates the best of both in flying qualities: it will fly slowly at high angles of attack; it can fly supersonic for extended periods of time; and it regains energy quickly because of its large engine.”

    Sites like ausairpower doesn’t have access to classified data for F-35.

    F-35 replaces F-16 Block 52+/60 and F18 E/F.

  • Luv

    Fascinating commentary, but what is the author’s first language?

  • Merlin

    One of these days, they’re gonna figure out software is not a substitute for aerodynamics.

  • Jupiter Zenith

    High-AOA is not cobra maneuver. One is controlled, point your nose to enermy, one is just for performance.

  • Under the volcano

    My country is considering buying this dog, so I’ve been doing a lot of reading, about radars, engines, stand off weaponry and the like. First of all, the stealth technology is useless. Unless an F-35 pilot could manage to fly the thing at less than 50 meters for the entire attack run, the new low-band radars would detect it, up to 400KM out. Even if the pilots could manage to hold this beast steady all that time, they would still be detected 65KM out by ground radars and any SU-35 in the area could detect them at any time. Next, the engine. The SINGLE engine which has to produce a minimum of 20,000 lbs of thrust, continuously. According to the engineering experts I’ve read, this is an almost impossible demand based on the Pratt and Whitney engine design and materials. The added stress on the engine components mean a high level of failures, fires and fleet grounding. The engine has proven problematic since it’s inception. Then we get to stand off weaponry. The very best American made SOW’s are only capable of a kill within a 40-50 KM range. The very best Russian and Chinese missiles can kill beyond 100KM which means that somehow an F-35 or an F-22 pilot has got to get well inside a Sukoi’s kill range before it can even fire. Then there is the operational cost ($30,000 US/hour), the specialized ground stations (DC current, dangerous and difficult to maintain), the unbelievably high 14 hour maintenance to flight hour, and finally, the most outrageous mistake in this bag of crap, it won’t even be able to carry missiles in stealth mode until 2022 because some numb-nuts didn’t think to check the size of the missiles and compare it to the missile bay. This is a failure that has no equal.

    Lockheed-Martin knew as early as the 1960’s that low-band radars could defeat any stealth technology in fighter jets simply because fighter jets are required to have tail fins and their regular size and wing design make it vulnerable, yet they went ahead and spent trillions and trillions of taxpayer dollars developing planes that are functionally worthless. The F-35 is underpowered and overweight; it is nothing more than an ultra expensive missile platform that has no missiles and no protection unless it is accompanied by F-22’s which are themselves vulnerable. These military contractors have left America, and it’s allies, defenceless while lining their pockets and lying to the Pentagon and Congress about capabilities. The notion that 2,400 of these albatross are going to be built is the height of arrogance and deception.

    • James W McCarthy

      If stealth is dead, why are both Russia and China “trying” to design stealth fighters.

      If your country is Australia, then they are definitely buying the JSF.