“Here’s what I’ve learned so far dogfighting in the F-35”: a JSF pilot’s first-hand account

Mar 01 2016 - 205 Comments

A Norwegian pilot shared his experience flying mock aerial combat with the F-35.

As we reported last year, the debate between F-35 supporters and critics became more harsh in July 2015, when War Is Boring got their hands on a brief according to which the JSF was outclassed by a two-seat F-16D Block 40 (one of the aircraft the U.S. Air Force intends to replace with the Lightning II) in mock aerial combat.

Although we debunked some theories about the alleged capabilities of all the F-35 variants to match or considerably exceed the maneuvering performance of some of the most famous fourth-generation fighter, and explained that there is probably no way a JSF will ever match a Eurofighter Typhoon in aerial combat, we also highlighted that the simulated dogfight mentioned in the unclassified report obtained by WIB involved one of the very first test aircraft that lacked some cool and useful features.

Kampflybloggen (The Combat Aircraft Blog), the official blog of the Norwegian F-35 Program Office within the Norwegian Ministry of Defence, has just published an interesting article, that we repost here below under permission, written by Major Morten “Dolby” Hanche, one of the Royal Norwegian Air Force experienced pilots and the first to fly the F-35.

“Dolby”  has more than 2200 hours in the F-16, he is a U.S. Navy Test Pilot School graduate, and currently serves as an instructor and as the Assistant Weapons Officer with the 62nd Fighter Squadron at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona.

He provides a first-hand account of what dogfighting in the F-35 looks like to a pilot who has a significant experience with the F-16. His conclusions are worth a read.

Enjoy.

The F-35 in a dogfight – what have I learned so far?

I now have several sorties behind me in the F-35 where the mission has been to train within visual range combat one-on-one, or «Basic Fighter Maneuvers» (BFM). In a previous post I wrote about aerial combat in general (English version available), and about the likelihood that the F-35 would ever end up in such a situation. In this post, however, I write more specifically about my experiences with the F-35 when it does end up in a dogfight. Again, I use the F-16 as my reference. As an F-35-user I still have a lot to learn, but I am left with several impressions. For now my conclusion is that this is an airplane that allows me to be more forward and aggressive than I could ever be in an F-16.

I’ll start by talking a little about how we train BFM. This particular situation – a dogfight one-on-one between two airplanes – may be more or less likely to occur, as I have described in a previous blog post (Norwegian only). Nonetheless, this kind of training is always important, because it builds fundamental pilot skills. In this kind of training we usually start out from defined parameters, with clearly offensive, defensive or neutral roles. This kind of disciplined approach to the basic parameters is important, because it makes it easier to extract learning in retrospect – a methodical approach to train for air combat.

A typical training setup begins at a distance of one, two or three kilometers from the attacker to the defender. The minimum distance is 300 meters. That kind of restriction may seem conservative, but 300 meters disappears quickly in a combat aircraft. Starting at different distances allows us to vary the focus of each engagement. Greater distance means more energy, higher g-loads and often ends in a prolonged engagement. A short distance usually means that the main objective is to practice gun engagements, either attacking or defending.

Before the training begins, we always check whether we are “fit for fight”; will I be able to withstand the g-load today? «G-awareness exercise» implies two relatively tight turns, with gradually increasing g-load. My experience is that especially dehydration, but also lack of sleep affects g-tolerance negatively. If someone has a «bad g-day», we adjust the exercises accordingly and avoid high g-loads.

As the offensive part, the training objective is to exploit every opportunity to kill your opponent with all available weapons – both missiles and guns – while maneuvering towards a stable position behind the opponent. From this «control position» it is possible to effectively employ both missiles and the gun, without the opponent being able to evade or return fire.

So how does the F-35 behave in a dogfight? The offensive role feels somewhat different from what I am used to with the F-16. In the F-16, I had to be more patient than in the F-35, before pointing my nose at my opponent to employ weapons; pointing my nose and employing, before being safely established in the control position, would often lead to a role reversal, where the offensive became the defensive part.

Classic maneuvering towards the control position with an F-16 (blue arrow); the offensive aircraft moves to reduce the difference in angle, and to end up behind its opponent.

Classic maneuvering towards the control position with an F-16 (blue arrow); the offensive aircraft moves to reduce the difference in angle, and to end up behind its opponent.

Maneuvering 2

The offensive (blue arrow) choses a too aggressive approach, and ends up being neutralized by its opponent.

The F-35 provides me as a pilot greater authority to point the nose of the airplane where I desire. (The F-35 is capable of significantly higher Angle of Attack (AOA) than the F-16. Angle of Attack describes the angle between the longitudinal axis of the plane – where nose is pointing – and where the aircraft is actually heading – the vector). This improved ability to point at my opponent enables me to deliver weapons earlier than I am used to with the F-16, it forces my opponent to react even more defensively, and it gives me the ability to reduce the airspeed quicker than in the F-16.

Update: Since I first wrote this post, I have flown additional sorties where I tried an even more aggressive approach to the control position – more aggressive than I thought possible. It worked just fine. The F-35 sticks on like glue, and it is very difficult for the defender to escape.

Maneuvering towards the control position with an F-35 (blue arrow) the offensive party can allow a greater difference in angle (more on the side than behind, and still remain established in the control position.

Maneuvering towards the control position with an F-35 (blue arrow) the offensive party can allow a greater difference in angle (more on the side than behind, and still remain established in the control position.

It may be difficult to understand why a fighter should be able to «brake» quickly. In the offensive role, this becomes important whenever I point my nose at an opponent who turns towards me. This results in a rapidly decreasing distance between our two airplanes. Being able to slow down quicker provides me the opportunity to maintain my nose pointed towards my opponent longer, thus allowing more opportunities to employ weapons, before the distance decreases so much that a role reversal takes place.

To sum it up, my experience so far is that the F-35 makes it easier for me to maintain the offensive role, and it provides me more opportunities to effectively employ weapons at my opponent.

In the defensive role the same characteristics are valuable. I can «whip» the airplane around in a reactive maneuver while slowing down. The F-35 can actually slow down quicker than you´d be able to emergency brake your car. This is important because my opponent has to react to me «stopping, or risk ending up in a role-reversal where he flies past me. (Same principle as many would have seen in Top Gun; «hit the brakes, and he’ll fly right by.» But me quoting Top Gun does not make the movie a documentary).

Defensive situations often result in high AOA and low airspeeds. At high AOA the F-16 reacts slowly when I move the stick sideways to roll the airplane. The best comparison I can think of is being at the helm of ship (without me really knowing what I am talking about – I’m not a sailor). Yet another quality of the F-35 becomes evident in this flight regime; using the rudder pedals I can command the nose of the airplane from side to side. The F-35 reacts quicker to my pedal inputs than the F-16 would at its maximum AOA (the F-16 would actually be out of control at this AOA). This gives me an alternate way of pointing the airplane where I need it to, in order to threaten an opponent. This «pedal turn» yields an impressive turn rate, even at low airspeeds. In a defensive situation, the «pedal turn» provides me the ability to rapidly neutralize a situation, or perhaps even reverse the roles entirely.

RNoAF F-35 maneuvering

The overall experience of flying the F-35 in aerial combat is different from what I’m used to with the F-16. One obvious difference is that the F-35 shakes quite a bit at high g-loadings and at high angles of attack, while the F-16 hardly shakes at all. The professional terminology is «buffeting», which I also described in an earlier blog post (English version available). This buffeting serves as useful feedback, but it can also be a disadvantage. Because the buffeting only begins at moderate angles of attack, it provides me an intuitive feel for how much I am demanding from the aircraft; what is happening to my overall energy state? On the other hand, several pilots have had trouble reading the information which is displayed on the helmet visor, due to the buffeting. Most of the pilots here at Luke fly with the second-generation helmet. I fly with the third-generation helmet, and I have not found this to be a real issue.

What I initially found to a bit negative in visual combat was the cockpit view, which wasn’t as good as in the F-16. The cockpit view from the F-16 was good – better than in any other fighter I have flown. I could turn around and look at the opposite wingtip; turn to the right, look over the «back» of the airplane and see the left wingtip. That´s not quite possible in the F-35, because the headrest blocks some of the view. Therefore, I was a bit frustrated during my first few BFM-sorties. However, It turned out that practice was all it took to improve the situation. Now I compensate by moving forward in the seat and leaning slightly sideways, before turning my head and looking backwards. In this way I can look around the sides of the seat. I also use my hands to brace against the cockpit glass and the canopy frame. With regards to cockpit view alone, I had an advantage in the F-16, but I am still able to maintain visual contact with my opponent during aggressive maneuvering in the F-35. The cockpit view is not a limitation with regards to being effective in visual combat, and it would be a misunderstanding to present this as a genuine problem with the F-35.

On the positive side I would like to highlight how the F-35 feels in the air. I am impressed with the stability and predictability of the airplane. Particularly at high AOA and low airspeeds. It is a peculiar feeling to be flying the F-35 at high AOA. I can pull the nose up to where my feet «sit» on the horizon and still maintain level altitude. I’m also impressed by how quickly the F-35 accelerates when I reduce the AOA. High AOA produces lots of lift, but also tremendous induced drag. When I «break» the AOA, it is evident that the F-35 has a powerful engine. The F-35 also makes a particular sound at this point. When I quickly reduce the AOA – stick full forward – I can hear clearly, even inside the «cockpit» how the F-35 howls! It seems like the «howling» is a mix of airflow over the wings and a different kind of noise from the engine. Maybe this isn’t all that relevant, but I still think it´s a funny observation. Another aspect is the kind of reaction I get when I push the stick forward; the F-35 reacts immediately, and not delayed like the F-16. Looking at another F-35 doing such maneuvers is an impressive sight. The various control surfaces on the airplane are large, and they move very quickly. I can monitor these movements on the screens in my cockpit, and I´m fascinated by how the control surfaces move when I manipulate the stick and pedals. Especially at high AOA, it is not always intuitive what control surfaces move, and by how much.

(The short video below gives an impression of just how much the control surfaces on the F-35 can move.)

The final «textbook» for how to best employ the F-35 in visual combat – BFM – is not written. It is literally being written by my neighbor, down here in Arizona! We have had many good discussions on this topic over the last few weeks, and it feels very rewarding to be part the development. I would emphasize the term “multirole” after experiencing this jet in many roles, and now also in a dogfight. The F-35 has a real bite! Those in doubt will be surprised when they finally meet this “bomber.”

Image credit: Lockheed Martin

 

  • jeff maxwell

    Wondering if the pilot was paid to say “greatest dogfighter ever”…sorry, but I’m slightly skeptical.

    • R Valencia

      http://youtu.be/1nNajPYghAw
      Super Hornet’s high AoA vs F-15’s high energy dogfight example

      F-35A’s high AoA dogfight style sounds like Super Hornet.

      Both Super Hornet and F-35 has high AoA.

      Both Super Hornet and F-35 has similar engine thrust.

      F-35A has slightly empty weight than Super Hornet.

      F-35A has mach 1.2 super-cruise which is superior over Super Hornet or F-16

  • Dr. Douglas Fargo

    No, The F-35 Was Not Beaten by an F-16

    _____________________________

    It has been widely reported in the media over the last week that an F-35 was outperformed by an F-16, the truth is seemingly a little different.

    It should be noted that the specific F-35 involved was ‘AF-2′, this airframe is designed for flight testing, it’s designed to fly in certain restricted flight envelopes. It does not feature the majority of systems present in frontline aircraft. The aircraft, due to it being a test aircraft, had also not had the software installed that is required to use the sensors and mission systems that would be used in combat. Additionally, ‘AF-2′ does not feature the radar-absorbent material coating that operational aircraft have.

    According to a recent press release from Lockheed Martin

    “It [the F-35 in question] is not equipped with the weapons or software that allow the F-35 pilot to turn, aim a weapon with the helmet, and fire at an enemy without having to point the airplane at its target.”

    Articles making the claim that the F-16 is superior cite tests performed earlier in the year to assess the flying qualities of the F-35 during within visual range combat and the F-16 involved was used as a visual reference to maneuver against. The aim of the test was to demonstrate the ability of the F-35 to fly to the edge of its restricted test limits without exceeding them. The test scenario was apparently successful as it allowed the aircraft be cleared for greater agility in future tests.

    _____________________________

    https://www.f35.com/news/detail/no-the-f-35-was-not-beaten-by-an-f-16

  • JPH

    See post above. Your source?

    • R Valencia


      Super Hornet vs Flanker. Notice Flanker’s drop moment after high AoA.

  • disqus_STXkrV9NGc

    Why would you fly below 5000ft at over 550kts anyway?

  • So very many people debating here are missing a very important point – the F-35 is a Strike Fighter never envisioned or produced before now! Trying to compare it to an F-22 or a Flanker is out of bounds for one good reason – it’s design was never to be a Dog Fighter! The training is to prepare it for the scenario should it encounter such a need, but it is designed for another purpose. And….if an F-35 does end up in a dog fight, the pilot was forced into the situation after all other options have been expended, or a mistake was made by the pilot.

    Moreover, it’s impressive for what this amazing pilot says the aircraft is capable of doing, even though it’s mission is far beyond the scope of the discussion, and lends to the point that it has, in fact, been very well designed to be able to do what it does even during final phases of development. As the blocks increase, so will the capabilities and engagement procedures/tactics of this amazing aircraft. In 10 years we’ll have an amazing snapshot of what the F-35 is going to provide well into the 2060’s. And to be sure, the F-16, F-18, and F-15 were all dogs slouched on the mat of critics to be later silenced when IOC concluded and the aircraft were tested and fine-tuned in combat.

    Lastly, and to the point of the F-35 development. Q: Any other plane in the world have the fusion capabilities of this aircraft to direct ‘every’ aspect of the battlefield? We must keep the whole vision of this aircraft in perspective when a discussion takes place or we run the risk of being so myopic we make fools of ourselves –

    • llamudos

      Citizen Authority i totally agree with you. The pilot would have to make one hell of a cockup to end up in a dog fight in the first place. It’s a very good point about putting the f35 in perspective. Its never going to be an f22 and the f22 will never be able to do the role of the f35 as they are totally different weapons. It’s like saying a rally car is rubbish as its not as good as a f1 racing car on a f1 track. It all depends on the role its designed for.

  • Just for kicks and a laugh at Pierre Sprey > https://youtu.be/-HVY6Fdc2CM < via this YouTube video. Don't agree with all of the assessment, but a serious knockdown on the little french-born squirt that seems to assume he's a brilliant aircraft designer ;-)

    • llamudos

      According to an RT interview sprey was described as the co designer of the f16. Apparently he was only an USAF analyst at best. How this guy gets air time is a joke.

  • Hein S

    Hope it works well in REAL combat.

    Me and my children paid a lot for the F35.

    • R Valencia

      Refer to Super Hornet’s example.

      https://youtu.be/Bu8G5ABHKc8?t=4183
      Around 1 :09:51, RAAF commander mentioned how the Rhino had a positive kill ratio in excess of 20 to 1 against the Alaska aggressors F-16 in an exercise in Australia more than a year ago.

  • Frankw

    Thank you for the video. As long as LM can keep the weight growth down and PW can eventually have thrust approach 47-50K; There is no need to worry.

    All the F-35 haters do not understand one important aspect: Would you rather go to war with a plane with near zero air-frame hours, state of the art avionics/sensors, exceptionally small RCS; or jets that are approaching 25-30 years of age with upwards of 8,000 hours, large RCS, and dated avionics?? And most importantly of all, the F-35 has a large growth potential. The teen series are exceedingly old, have already reached their growth potential, and are in need of a modern replacement-

    • Uniform223

      I don’t think the weight growth for future F-35 upgrades will be much of a problem so long as the USAF ADVENT Program bares fruit.

  • Uniform223

    Very good points. I think/believe people are taking high AoA maneuvers slightly out of context. For example anything beyond 20-25 degrees (if I remember correctly) is considered high AoA for the F-16. For an F/A-18 on the other hand 20-25 degrees AoA is a piece of cake. The F-35 has shown that it can have controlled flight at AoAs exceeding 50 degrees. ANY aircraft at high AoA will lose energy and WILL have a deficiency in energy at the end of the maneuver. The trick however is what is the most optimal AoA for the aircraft to be able to do certain maneuvers and still have the ability to regain energy and speed.

    Pilots have already commented on how easy it is to fly and how they have very good nose pointing capability. They have also commented on the F-35s acceleration in the subsonic regime. Looking at comments from this pilot as well as comments from other pilots, the F-35 seems to be somewhere between a F-16C block 50 and a F/A-18E. By any measure those two aircraft are always lauded as being good and capable dog fighters.

    The S(t)u(por)-35S and the PAKFA look to be like good aircraft. However the writing on the wall (that I am seeing) is that the ONLY area where those two aircraft have over the F-35 (any variant of) is in the kinematic area. I would think that in a situation where F-35s are forced to face off against an S(t)u(por)-35, the F-35 will always have the upper hand. F-35s will put the S(t)u(por)-35 on the defensive and keep them there. The S(t)u(por)-35 will always have to fight with the shorter stick. Even if it should come down to the merge; a flight of S(t)u(por)-35s on the defensive would (most likely) mean the F-35 will be at a more advantageous position. The F-35’s could choose when, where, and how they want to attack or even make a move to retreat.

    The PAKFA is a different story. It is indeed stealthy but it isn’t as stealthy as the F-35, most likely not in the same league. Despite this however as both aircraft are stealthy (one more stealthy than the other) this would mean that detection and engagement ranges would most likely be dramatically reduced. I would wager however because the F-35 is more stealthy than the PAKFA; the PAKFA would be detected first. At this point its who has the better tactic and experience pilots… the X factor that can’t be exactly measured.

    Regarding EM I recommend people read this. The author makes a case that the EM theory and diagrams has had to change with technology.

    http://elementsofpower.blogspot.com/2013/04/a-backgrounder-on-energy-maneuverability.html

  • sferrin

    This just in: the F-35 isn’t a replacement for any of those aircraft.

    • Titus Veridius

      Sounds like CAS speeds and altitude. A mission which the F-35 was intended to take from the a-10. And still will as soon as the Air Force figures out how.

      • Sean McCartin

        The only way they’ll be able to kill the A-10 is by making something that’s as cheap, reliable and easy to work on. I don’t see that happening anytime soon if they keep pushing the F-35.

    • Titus Veridius

      Really. So what other aircraft is replacing the F-15? Oh, that’s right, the F-35. Which means it now has new roles. (including the ones that it was advertised to have, which get the bar lowered every week)

  • Cody3/75

    That’s just BARELY subsonic. I’m sorry but the Tornado is the only airplane that. You have to engineer an aircraft from the ground up to be a lower level, high speed penetrator. Something nobody really does anymore because there are better answers out there for penetration. Certainly more so than the extra 10% being designed for that role afford an airframe. Trying to pick apart the F-35 on that matrix is more whiny sour grapes.

    • Kevin Kb O’Brien

      b1b is low high speed penetrator, the b1a was high alt. high speed sort of like a redo of the xb70 which i loved mach3 with 50000 yet it needed zip fuel which boron added fuel boosting thrust 25%

  • Cody3/75

    First of all, dont allude to random stuff. Link it. Second of all, 550kts below 5000ft? Are you serious?

    • Mike

      Here’s some more on that “random stuff…”…I thought everyone following the F-35 Program knew about this.

      ““Testing to characterize the thermal environment of the weapons bays demonstrated that temperatures become excessive during ground operations in high ambient temperature conditions and in-flight under conditions of high speed and at altitudes below 25,000 feet. As a result, during ground operations, fleet pilots are restricted from keeping the weapons bay doors closed for more than 10 cumulative minutes prior to take-off when internal stores are loaded and the outside air temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

      In flight, the 10-minute restriction also applies when flying at airspeeds equal to or greater than 500 knots at altitudes below 5,000 feet; 550 knots at altitudes between 5,000 and 15,000 feet; and 600 knots at altitudes between 15,000 and 25,000 feet. Above 25,000 feet, there are no restrictions associated with the weapons bay doors being closed, regardless of temperature. The time limits can be reset by flying 10 minutes outside of the restricted conditions (i.e., slower or at higher altitudes). This will require pilots to develop tactics to work around the restricted envelope; however, threat and/ or weather conditions may make completing the mission difficult or impossible using the work around.”
      http://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com/the-f-35-radar-bug-isnt-news-and-its-the-least-of-the-p-1763569371

    • Veritasortruth

      Love it. I love the way you shut down doofus supahotfire.

      • Mike

        “In flight, the 10-minute restriction also applies when flying at air speeds equal to or greater than 500 knots at altitudes below 5,000 feet; 550 knots at altitudes between 5,000 and 15,000 feet; and 600 knots at altitudes between 15,000 and 25,000 feet..”
        http://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com/the-f-35-radar-bug-isnt-news-and-its-the-least-of-the-p-1763569371

        • Tifosi Fratello

          There’s something you fail to consider. At standard conditions, the temperature at FL250 is going to be about -30 deg F. and at 5000 ft MSL it will be about 41 deg F. Even with a significant temperature inversion, the critical conditions would have to be quite extreme.

          • Mike

            Sounds like you need to bring your thoughts to the F-35 Program’s Flight Test Director. But before you do..you might want to read this…
            “Testing to characterize the thermal environment of the weapons bays demonstrated that temperatures become excessive during ground operations in high ambient temperature conditions and in-flight under conditions of high speed and at altitudes below 25,000 feet. As a result, during ground operations, fleet pilots are restricted from keeping the weapons bay doors closed for more than 10 cumulative minutes prior to take-off when internal stores are loaded and the outside air temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
            In flight, the 10-minute restriction also applies when flying at airspeeds equal to or greater than 500 knots at altitudes below 5,000 feet; 550 knots at altitudes between 5,000 and 15,000 feet; and 600 knots at altitudes between 15,000 and 25,000 feet. Above 25,000 feet, there are no restrictions associated with the weapons bay doors being closed, regardless of temperature. The time limits can be reset by flying 10 minutes outside of the restricted conditions (i.e., slower or at higher altitudes). This will require pilots to develop tactics to work around the restricted envelope; however, threat and/ or weather conditions may make completing the mission difficult or impossible using the work around.”
            In addition it seems we also have a bit of a vibration/acoustical problem..”Testing to characterize the vibrational and acoustic environment of the weapons bays demonstrated that stresses induced by the environment were out of the flight qualification parameters for both the AIM-120 missile and the flight termination system (telemetry unit attached to the missile body required to satisfy range safety requirements for terminating a live missile in a flight test).”
            “This resulted in reduced service life of the missile and potential failure of the telemetered missile termination system required for range safety.”
            A few months ago there was an in-flight weapons bay fire that caused $2M of damage to the F-35..pilot was lucky to have landed the plane safely.
            “something you fail to consider” No, it was thoroughly considered…

  • Jan Schmidt
  • Sharkey Ward

    Unfortunately, all is not as it appears to be within this article which attempts to convey upon the F-35 excellent dog-fighting qualities – which I would suggest it does not actually enjoy.

    The author, Major Morten “Dolby” Hanche, concentrates his praise upon the low-speed handling of the F-35 at high Angle of Attacks without considering in any way at all the lower wing loading of the F-16 which gives it superior turn capability at medium and higher speeds. This characteristic alone gives the F-16 full combat supremacy in most foreseeable visual combat engagements – the ability to point at its target and achieve an early weapons release and kill from any neutral position.

    The three “dogfight” diagrams presented demonstrate a ‘flying training’ mentality that is incompatible with actual combat. Further, the diagrams serve to confuse because they do not have consistent colors to match the two different types of aircraft.

    The third diagram is particularly laughable. The”threatened” F-16 would not wait for an attacker (the F-35) to maneuver/fly gently into his 6 o’clock (described as the ‘control position’) but would immediately turn hard into the F-35 and, with far greater available G and hence a smaller turn circle, rapidly turned the tables on the F-35.

    Without going into further air warfare detail, I feel convinced that this article was generated purely to downplay the honest article concerning F-35 fighter combat deficiencies published by “War Is Boring” – and as such I would consider it pure spin.

    • Uniform223

      Is that your “professional” opinion?

    • R Valencia


      F-16D vs F-35A AF-02


      Super Hornet’s high AoA dogfight vs F-15’s high energy dogfight

  • Mike

    One could take any of the F-35’s many smaller issues and make a headline out of them for the day, even the unglamorous ones. For instance, the aircraft’s weapons bays:

    “Testing to characterize the vibrational and acoustic environment of the weapons bays demonstrated that stresses induced by the environment were out of the flight qualification parameters for both the AIM-120 missile and the flight termination system (telemetry unit attached to the missile body required to satisfy range safety requirements for terminating a live missile in a flight test).

    This resulted in reduced service life of the missile and potential failure of the telemetered missile termination system required for range safety.”

  • Mike

    Talk about drinking the Kool-Aid…..
    Who in their right mind….knowing even a little of the F-35 Program…could defend it. Sorry, but it makes no sense..and this is coming from an ex-LM engineer (Denver – Space Systems). Very proud of many Martin Marietta/Lockheed Martin Programs…but sadly this isn’t one of them. You have an air frame built on so many layers of compromises for each of the services, it can’t help but suffer from a flawed design. Given enough time and money I’m sure many of it’s issues will be “addressed”….but as it stands now it’s just not a good design…
    Sorry but the Emperor…has no clothes…

  • Don Clark

    So much for the claims the F-35 can’t dogfight. A Norwegian pilot’s perspective. https://theaviationist.com/2016/03/01/heres-what-ive-learned-so-far-dogfighting-in-the-f-35-a-jsf-pilot-first-hand-account/

  • R Valencia

    NSNetwork’s F-35A’s thrust is 40,000 lbf.

    https://www.f35.com/news/detail/f-35b-in-beaufort-one-year-anniversary
    F-35A’s max thrust is 43,000 lbf.

    http://www.af.mil/AboutUs/FactSheets/Display/tabid/224/Article/478441/f-35a-lightning-ii-conventional-takeoff-and-landing-variant.aspx
    F-35A’s max thrust is 43,000 lbf.

    NSNetwork’s F-35A’s speed was quoted to be 1.6 mach which is correct, but the context is wrong.

    F-18 E/F
    Maximum speed: Mach 1.8 (1,190 mph, 1,915 km/h) at 40,000 ft (12,190 m)

    F-35A
    Maximum speed: Mach 1.6+ (1,200 mph, 1,930 km/h) (tested to Mach 1.61)

    “Speed (full internal weapons load) Mach 1.6 (~1,200 mph)”
    http://www.lockheedmartin.com.au/us/products/f35/f-35a-ctol-variant.html

    Rafale
    Maximum speed: Mach 1.8 (1,912 km/h, 1,032 knots)
    http://www.defense.gouv.fr/marine/decouverte/equipements-moyens-materiel-militaire/aeronefs/rafale-marine

    Note the MPH or km/h numbers. F-35’s Mach number is being down played, while MPH or km/h are similar to F-18E/F and Rafale.

    Speed of sound is not a constant
    Altitude (relates to air density) vs speed of sound

    sea level = 761 MPH
    10000 feet = 734 MPH
    20000 feet = 701 MPH
    30000 feet = 678 MPH
    40000 feet = 660 MPH
    50000 feet = 660 MPH

    Examples
    Mach 1.2 at sea level = 913.2 MPH
    Mach 1.3 at sea level = 989.3 MPH
    Mach 1.6 at 20000 feet = 1121.6 MPH
    Mach 1.8 at 50000 feet = 1188 MPH

    http://www.sukhoi.org/eng/planes/military/su30mk/lth/
    With canard surfaces installed, max Mach speed without external ordnance and stores is 1.9.

  • lugnutmstr

    “Yea”, like asked the widows of of the British pilots who flew their Tornado’s at low altitude mach 2 against Iraq’s airfields in the first Iraq war. No one since has tried that again! One silver bullet at that speed was a disaster.

  • Joe Bloggs

    Basically he is saying that the F35 can win if you throw all of the combined knowledge of John Boyd et al out the window. While putting on the brakes may work in Top Gun movies, if it fails (or there is another aircraft), you leave yourself in an extremely vulnerable position.