“A-10 will always be better than F-35 in Close Air Support. In all the other missions the JSF wins” F-35 pilot says

…and (quite obviously) the F-22 will always be better in Air-to-Air combat. But, in all the other missions the F-35 wins.

It’s wrong to compare the F-35 with any other asset that was designed to perform a specific mission: this is, in simple words, what a U.S. F-35 pilot said in an interview he gave to the Danish website focusing on military topics Krigeren.

Interviewed at Luke Air Force Base, by Christian Sundsdal, Maj. John Wilson, an F-35 pilot with an F-16 background clearly explained something that is quite obvious to everyone: an A-10 Thunderbolt II will always be better in CAS than the F-35 because it was designed to perform that kind of mission. Similarly, an F-22 will always be better than the JSF in air-to-air combat, because it was designed for that role. However, the F-35 is better in all the other missions.

For sure, aircraft designed for a specific role are going to be more effective in that one than other multi-role platforms. The problem in this case is that the F-35 is going to replace these assets, even though many believe this is not cost-effective, and could even cost some human lives as far as CAS missions, with Troops in Contact is concerned.

Furthermore, according to Wilson, once all the limitations are removed and it can carry weapons, the F-35 will be as capable as the F-16 in the CAS role.

According to Wilson, the majority of CAS missions that have been flown in Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere, were flown by Predators, F-15E Strike Eagles, F-16s and F-18s.

“The A-10s make up a very small percentage [and the fact that] every JTAC or guy on the ground that has been saved, has been saved by an A-10, that’s just not true” Wilson says.

“If the guys on the ground are concerned about that…I’d say they shouldn’t be. They should only be concerned that the pilots of whatever aircraft it is, is properly trained and doing his job, dropping the right bomb, on the right target, at the right time.”

Wilson admits the aircraft is expensive, but he says that maintaining several different types in service is even more costly.

Here’s the interview.

Interview with F-35 Pilot from Krigeren.dk on Vimeo.


About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. It is about losing ability to help your troops when went into problems with enemy at short distance. Then guided bombs will not help them. You have to use smaller caliber like Hydra’s.

    • The F-35 will be able to employ a variety of precision air-to-ground missiles for close air support purposes. I agree, in a danger close scenario bombs aren’t ideal. But strafing runs and rockets have about the same accuracy and are danger close issues as well.

  2. Sorry, but the Gripen “supercruising” is a marketing gimmick. Many fighter jets do this gimmick, actually. They can only super-cruise when not carrying any missiles, which is in fact pointless, really. The F-22 and F-35, however, can truly super cruise with weapons armed (albeit the F-35 can only do it for about 120 miles).

  3. Military officers don’t have such rights anymore, they were forfeit the second they become commissioned officers. They have some minor rights that allow them some forms of freedom of speech, press, assembly, protest but they are highly curtailed for military personnel.

    In this case I highly doubt a pilot for a still experimental/developmental aircraft has the right to divulge all information on its pros and cons. Obviously they would be allowed to extol its virtues as much as they can, they need to drum up support for this dog of a plane anyway. But to talk ill of the F35 might not only cost this particular pilot his job, but would also offer a negative impact on the whole public relations nightmare that is the F35.

    The mission of CAS is an incredibly important missions that I think the airforce brass aren’t as concerned with as they should be. We will be losing a critical capability wit the loss of the A10 and no aircraft current or proposed has the capability to replace the A10. Our troops on the ground don’t care that the F35 can or can’t dogfight or that it can supercruise. The only bullshit they care about is how long that plane can stay above giving them adequate cover. THATS ALL. So from a troops perspective the F35 is a horrible idea that will only make the lives of our troops on the ground more difficult. The F35 is a solution in need of a problem and It should have died over a decade ago when the project costs and time overran. We are going to end up with a plane that cost billions more than we expected, took decades longer to get to operational capability (still not there yet), AND it replaces planes that did their job better than the F35 does. A jack of all trades does none of them superbly. There is sparingly little information about the F35 that inspires confidence or even makes one feel less anxious about the prospects of our military’s future.

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