“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. “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.

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

    Well…that’s true. But F35 cost are still unjustifiable. If they want to keep costs… maybe they should keep F22 and A10, or even F/A18 E/F and A10, or even better, optionally manned F/A18 E/F and A-10

  2. I think stupid generals and admirals with agendas do more damage to the military than the Dems every could. Seems like every major conflict we have ever been in, the assets that were in place proved to be inadaquate for the job and had to be replaced in a hurry by assets designed by reality rather than some “expert” REMF.

  3. You make some very good points. I have been wondering why we are making a new airplane that does what the existing ones already do, sometimes not even as well. It seems like a Swiss army knife, has every tool in the book, but you really don’t want to try and cut a tree with it, if you whittle, you are going to be missing half your thumb, and if you use the bottle opener, you are probably going to knock your own teeth out.

    You also make a really good point about BVR combat, just saturation alone could defeat the F-35, fly an advanced stealth or 4++gen fighter in with a bunch of cheap airplanes or drones and you easily defeat the F-35

    You have some very good points

  4. ——> “But if the A-10 is better at ground support and the F-22 better at dogfighting, why have we abandoned the A-10 and F-22 and going exclusively with the F-35?

    You need to watch the interview again and pay closer attention to details. We have not abandoned the F-22 and the A-10 (if you think about it) would be facing retirement even if there was no F-35. WHY? The pilot said it! Because very little CAS/COIN is done by the A-10 these days. Its sphere of influence has been shrinking each year. Plus (despite its armor) its highly vulnerable to new ground threats. Something the pilot didn’t go into.

    Saying that an A-10 and F-22 will always be better at their mission specific roles than an F-35 really told you very little as far as how well the F-35 will do its part. Did you forget that the pilot also said the F-35 is equivalent to an F-16? Both the A-10 and F-22 are better in their specific roles than the F-16. Does that mean the F-16 has not been highly effective? So why is this such a big concern to you and the F-35? Welcome to the world of multi-role (which has been highly successful for the past 30 years).

    —–>”.’And what is that “everything else”? Standoff blasting away with radar-guided missiles?”

    You mean like an F-16? Does that one BVR capability constitute “everything else”? How about deep strike? How about SAM hunting? How about low altitude A2A engagements. Things the A-10 cannot do and an F-22 shouldn’t do.

    ——> “Sorry, but if the other guys develop stealth aircraft or good jamming, that standoff fighting won’t happen.”

    Sorry but Jamming is not as great as you think especially against the F-22 and F-35 newer AESA systems. The rest of the world’s Stealth developments [again] tells you nothing. China, Russia and Europe are far behind. What developments they come up with lacks experience which means poorer stealth and higher costs which will highly limit quantity as well as quality.

    ——> “The F-35 with be forced into a dogfight where it’ll do poorly.”

    Who says the F-35 is a poor dogfighter? The Media? Pierre Sprey? The man’s mind is stuck back in Vietnam when aircraft were tubular designed. He knows nothing about designing planes today or fighting wars. He has a history of being more wrong than right. Anyway, reports confirms it handles like an F-16.

    ——> “And that’s not even getting into the folly of abandoning the very aircraft, the A-10, when it’s ground support needs are what recent conflicts demonstrate that we need most.”

    Did you not hear the pilot? Very little CAS is performed by the A-10. That means we have other platforms performing CAS from attack choppers, to AC130s, to Harvest Hawk to fast movers like F-15Es, B1bs, F-18s and THE F-16!!! Unless you got Soviet tanks pooring into the Fulda gap, there is nothing the A-10 is doing that other platforms aren’t handling well.

    ——> “Sorry, but I can’t shake myself from a belief that the decision makers at the Pentagon and in the White House aren’t up to their jobs”

    Thats a rather blind assumption probably brought on by all the scandal you are reading on the internet. Are you an expert in warfare? Is the media? If you want to keep the A-10, open up your check book and make a donation to save the A-10.

  5. thanks for your comments cody3/75 – was very nice to read – but i am still a f-35 sceptic. it is the worst platform ever for all 3 services, costs too much for what it maybe will deliver in 2025 or 2030 or later…

    meanwhile antistealth weapons will be perfected by china and russia and israel and they will be way cheaper to aquire than the f-35. today the pilots do not fear going in a cold war IADS but in 2020 or 2025 that will change. stealth is only optimized for one or two frequency bands (X and or L/Ku). what will you do if stealth does not work anymore? VLO is a nice advertised feature against third rate enemies but what about the firstrates? or the secondrates?

    not just the USA will be damaged in air power, but australia, uk, half of western europe, some in asia… just to provide high paying jobs for reelection of politicians. sorry my 2 cents from europe

Comments are closed.