F-15E Strike Eagles unable to shoot down the F-35s in 8 dogfights during simulated deployment

A U.S. Air Force F-35 Lightning II demonstration aircraft takes off during the AirPower over Hampton Roads Open House at Langley Air Force Base, Va., April 24, 2016. The aircraft performed alongside and F-22 Raptor and a P-51 Mustang as part of the Heritage Flight Program, which showcases the evolution of air power by flying today's state-of-the-art fighter aircraft in close formation with vintage fighter aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman R. Alex Durbin)

“0 losses in 8 dogfights against F-15E Red Air”

The U.S. Air Force F-35A fleet continues to work to declare the Lightning II IOC (initial operational capability) scheduled in the August – December timeframe.

Among the activities carried out in the past weeks, a simulated deployment provided important feedbacks about the goal of demonstrating the F-35’s ability to “penetrate areas with developed air defenses, provide close air support to ground troops and be readily deployable to conflict theaters.”

Seven F-35s deployed from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, to  Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, to carry out a series of operational tests which involved local-based 4th Generation F-15E Strike Eagles belonging to the 366th Fighter Wing.

In a Q&A posted on the USAF website, Col. David Chace, the F-35 systems management office chief and lead for F-35 operational requirements at ACC, provided some insights about the activities carried out during the second simulated deployment to Mountain Home (the first was in February this year):

“The F-35 recently deployed from Hill to Mountain Home where crews, maintenance and support personnel conducted a number of missions. During that deployment, crews attained a 100 percent sortie generation rate with 88 of 88 planned sorties and a 94 percent hit rate with 15 of 16 bombs on target.
These numbers provide a positive indication of where we are when it comes to stability and component performance.”

“Feedback from the events at Mountain Home will feed into the overall evaluation of F-35 capabilities. The second evaluation will take place in the operational test environment with F-35 mission sets the Air Force intends to execute after IOC. All reports will be delivered in July and feed into the overall F-35 capabilities report. The ultimate goal is to provide a needed capability to the warfighter to execute the mission. It is not calendar-based or event-based.”

“The feedback from unit operators in place today has been very positive for the F-35, not just concerning performance but the ability the aircraft has with other platforms. In particular at Hill, integration with the F-15E (Strike Eagle) has gone very well. We’ve also been demonstrating the ability to put bombs on target. All of that information will be provided to us in the formal IOC readiness assessments.”

The following interesting chart accompanies the Q&A.

It shows some stats about the deployment.

F-35 deployment

The fourth column shows something interesting: during the exercise, the F-35s were challenged by some F-15Es and suffered no losses.

Even though the graphic does not say whether the F-35s did shoot back at the F-15Es some analysts (noticing also the “pew pew pew” in the chart….) have suggested the JSFs achieved stunning 8:0 kill rate against the Strike Eagle.

However, the “zero losses” may simply mean that the F-35s were able to complete their assigned strikes without being shot down by the aggressors of the Red Air: considered that the F-15Es were probably equipped with the AN/APG-82 AESA radar and the Sniper ATP (Advanced Targeting Pod), the fact that the Strike Eagles performing DCA (Defensive Counter Air) were not able to “find” and/or “engage” the almost-IOC F-35s can be considered a huge achievement for the pricey, troubled 5th generation multirole combat plane.

Actually, this is not the first time the F-35 proves itself able to fly unscathed through a fighter-defended area: not a single Lightning II was shot down during Green Flag 15-08, the first major exercise conducted, more or less one year ago, on the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, during which the F-35 flew as main CAS (Close Air Support) provider.

At that time, several analysts claimed the participation of two test aircraft in the exercise was just a PR stunt, since the aircraft was still quite far from achieving a combat readiness required to really support the troops at war.

Let’s see what happens this time…

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.


    • The F-22 is replacing the F-15Cs, not the F-35. The F-35 is a multi-role fighter, NOT an Air Superiority fighter, like the F-15C and F-22 are.

  1. AMAZING!!! I had feeling that the F-35 Lightning II was something special. I had recently saw two of them at The Vectren/Dayton Airshow and up close they looked like something out of a science fiction movie. I hope they reach IOC (initial operational capability) soon,because The U.S.A.F. needs new fighters badly.

    • Big mistake mothballing the A-10 with this new aircraft. The A 10 has a specific mission which it performs flawlessly and they are already in inventory and cost a micro-fraction what these new F-35’s will. More wasted money as the Military Industrial complex rapes the taxpayers yet again.

      • Thats how my Dad Put it the other day, Ripping off us the Tax payer by these vultures.. And the waste, the incredible waste..

      • you have any idea how much $ it takes to refurbish those ol planes? Just like owning a car, sometimes it is cheaper just to buy a new car then to rebuild the ol one. ALIS is gonna save a lot of money and in the long run, there will come a time when the cost of maintaining the A10 would be more expensive then putting those same mission sets into another fighter

  2. Next Red Flag will be the big test. If they aren’t deployed to a trouble spot first.

      • Wrong! The F-35 is all aspects stealth which means from all directions including the AFT. Just because it doesn’t have the nacelle design of the F-22, doesn’t mean its not rear aspect stealth? Never judge a book by its cover. The F-35 takes a different approach than the F-22 but rest assured its stealthy in the rear.

        • Until you pop on the ordnance racks. Then it can carry weapons but sticks out on radar, as well the handling goes down 65% in flight test and it cannot go supersonic without huge cost on fuel and time. And it cannot dogfight with tanks of racks on. BUT… any opposing 4th gen aircraft can.

          What makes it good? The network battlefield systems communicating with other allied aircraft can be a huge plus for awareness and target acquisition. The negative on that? The small numbers produced means that no nation can go on the offensive, it WILL HAVE TO BE under an allied political coalition. NO NATION for the cost OR aircraft numbers can afford to do so on their own. In other worlds, the political movement made the a specified one world government weapons platform that works ONLY with international cooperation. THAT is why other nations HAD to sign on, that is why the US under the current administration supports this huge military cost platform. NO OTHER WAY would the establishment support and throw so much money into this project. You will never hear them deny this.

          This is a maximized political machine thought up under the best minds of political correctness with no real world though of practical applications against an enemy that will be pressed to combat under practical real world strategy. Those that commit against such will do so with battle tested practical low cost aircraft in huge numbers they can afford. That’s a grim outlook against this platform.

          • What? Even when the F-35 is in non stealth mode and carries external ordinance it will still be more stealthy than 4th gen fighters who don’t have a choice. And 4th gen fighters do suffer drag penalty when they start sticking pylons and missiles and bombs.

          • what are you talking about…it uses stealth to take our radars, SAM sites, airfields and other defense systems…once these are taken out during the first few days, you can strap on more ordinance like and it can act like any other 4th gen aircraft.

          • You don’t need full profile stealth for many of the missions especially when Air superiority is achieved and when conducting strike missions and close support. Radar is a line of sight detection. Even with racks, the F35 still harder to detect than any 4th generation fighter. That means its harder for any missile in flight to maintain a steady lock. Detecting a stealth alone wont do you much good if you can’t reliably lock it.. In a first strike, the front line F35s (more than likely) will not be hauling external payloads. They have what they need internally and they can also remote launch weapons from other platforms. They also carry the compliment of internal fuel equal to an F16 with external tanks. That minimizes their need for EFTs’

      • If you ever seen a radar scattering graph you will know that all aircraft only have small RCS from the front and extremely high RCS from the side,The F-35 is no exception
        If you also know a thing a two about radar, you will also know that side RCS is not important because when the aircraft is perpendicular to enemy radars they create zero doppler effect, hence they will be invisible regardless of their RCS

        • Pull up stats on F-22 RCS from the rear, it’s strongest return – It’s as good or better than anything else’s front-side RCS… That’s not a coincidence, it’s NOT easy or cheap, and it’s one of the reasons the F-22 is held close-to-chest…
          Now with that kind of stealth, saying that all aircraft have “extremely high RCS from the side” discounts the only true 5th gen’s capabilities; which no other aircraft, F-35 included, can compete with. It may not yet have the systems onboard like F-35, .but the platform is as good as it gets… and that includes its stealth, from all angles.

          • What make you think F-22 and PAK FA have better side RCS ? do you have their radar scattering graph ? absolutely not

              • So you are enough of an expert to determine its side RCS visually? i dont know a qualified engineer capable of that without a scattering graph. The F35 is no fatter than an F22 and the F22 and Pakfa are larger birds. The F35 side RCS should be comparable or better especially since its RAM skin is suppose to be improved over the F22

        • Zero Doppler effect ONLY if you set your filters for velocity search or to ignore slow movers.

          • and if you donot set the doppler rejection threshold , your radar screen would be full of birds, insects appeared as targets

            • Not true. But it damn sure lights up the ground traffic. Of corse, on the autobahn even 100 nm/hr filters don’t stop you from getting ground targets, but a human BRAIN can pretty quickly sort out false slow movers from targets perpendicular to the radar beam doing upwards of 400 kts.

              Seriously dude, have you ever USED Doppler radar?

    • yes, it is stealthy vs radar…Just like the F22 and B2. Radars can be tricked and jammed and decoyed.

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