“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. What’s this obsession with the A-10?
    The SU-25 is far better, make far more sense but nobody is obsessed by a plane who like the A-10, has a very limited use…I.E. bombing virtually defenceless terrorists…

    • hahahaha…oh wait your serious. let me laugh a little harder, hahaha… ok i’m done.

      The Su-25 is no where near the A-10’s performance, what are you talking about?

    • That’s the most moronic thing I’ve ever seen posted on this website. Lets pretend the SU-25T went operational. Then lets pretend it did so with a cannon that can easily act as it’s one and only weapon system. Then lets pretend this SU-25T had an incredibly advanced automated RWR and IR jammer (SPO-15 is a laughing stock). Then lets pretend that said SU-25T can operate far slower, and at far higher AOAs. Then lets pretend that said SU-25T was slightly more durable. Then lets pretend it has a datalink. Then lets pretend it can carry far more, and far better weapons. Then lets pretend that you can do air to air refueling with the SU-25.

      The SU-25 is faster than the A-10. That is literally the only thing it has going for it. That is, assuming you think that’s a strength in a low-level CAS aircraft, which many people don’t.

      I’ve always really liked the SU-25, but it’s not even in the same ballpark as the A-10. But then again, you’re the raving idiot that makes a comment about “virtually defenceless terrorists”. You can count total A-10 combat losses on your hands. You can’t do that with the SU-25. Why? Because those same terrorists have shot down scores of SU-25 over Afghanistan, Chechnya, the Ukraine, Iran/Iraq, and even Macedonia and Ethiopia. You’re an absolute dunce.

      Go back to the YouTube comments selection where you belong. Posting like an adult is apparently too much for you.

  2. Let’s just get her flyin and fightin…That IS what we’ve paid billions at the expense of the F-22 for, right? Ludicrous that the F-22 is performing the F-35s job when it should be targeting for the F-35… which is what we paid for and HAVE in the -22, right?
    Im just sayin, at what point do people put 2 and 2 together and realize that many horrible decisions resulted in the -35 consistently missing dates, test points, cost targets, capabilities, etc; now we’re in the wonderful position of having to decide between two evils: Either 1. we accept that our aircraft need replacing now, that the conflicts around the world warrant a push to service of a potentially risky weapon system, and that the F-35 can DO what the pilots say it “will” do… or 2. we maybe accept what the F-22 already brings to the table and leverage existing and in-production aircraft/upgrades until the F-35 pans out (hopefully) – I mean seriously, die-hards actually believe that giving up just 1 prototype F-35 (They are ALL “patched” advanced protos at this point) to buy 2 brand spankin new F-18s, or a few souped-up F-16s, or 5-6 A-10s (engines and weapons ARE included), or some MAJOR upgrades, is somehow crazy. What IS crazy is that many of these same people are adults, who probably demand a higher measure of flexibility, critical thinking and common sense from those they interact with, than they muster up in their points of argument.

    • Maybe the F-22 is doing the F-35’s job because they are not even in service right now…?

  3. Funny that you never hear any of ou ground warriors raving about how they were saved by an F-15 or F-16!

    • Maybe you don’t run in the right circles. I’d have cheered a Pelican if it dropped JDAMs on baddies.

      Most of these people claiming to have received CAS from A-10s are full of shit. The truth is, for every one time the supporting aircraft was an A-10, there were two or three instances where it was a B-52 or B-1B and another two or three times it was another legacy aircraft. I’ve heard other vets, whom I believe, say one in every ten. I left the military in 2011. For perspective’s sake, the CAS aircraft I was personally supported by, was an F-14 four times more than the A-10….

      The A-10 is great. I loved and still do love it. That doesn’t mean it’s still relevant though. The truth is it’s really not anymore. Any remaining relevance it has is rapidly shrinking. As much as I wanna bitch about the F-35 or the loss of the A-10, I’ve learned that it’s not worth kicking myself in the balls over. If I’m truthful and think back to every time I’ve seen CAS applied, in combat, all but two of could easily be executed by the F-35. The two remaining examples was a situation where we needed Apache’s or the Polish Hind we worked with on one deployment.

  4. General Chuck Horner, the Desert Storm Air Boss on the A-10:

    “Quite frankly, we pulled the A-10s back from going up around the Republican Guard and kept them on other units… I had fourteen [A-10s] sitting on the ramp having battle damage repaired, and I lost two A- 10s in one day [February 15], and I said, “I’ve had enough of this.”

    And this was back in 1991.

    • Can anyone imagine a Marine general saying something like that about their men?

    • We’re they trying to use them in the SEAD role or something? I could have predicted that and saved them a lot

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