Here’s The Video Of The First Aerobatic Flight Demo Of The F-35: Does It Showcase Exceptional Maneuverability Or Quite The Opposite?

Jun 19 2017 - 199 Comments
By Tom Demerly

Lockheed Martin Test Pilot Billie Flynn just performed his first F-35A Flight Demo At Paris Air Show. Did he “crush years of misinformation about what this aircraft is capable of doing” as promised?

Set against a brilliant French sky with puffy cumulus clouds Lockheed Martin’s star test pilot Billie Flynn thrilled the crowd at Le Bourget Airport outside Paris, France today as he wheeled and tumbled his F-35A Lightning II through an aerobatic demonstration some critics claimed was nearly impossible.

The performance included low speed, high angle of attack maneuvers, tight turning, numerous rolls and maximum performance climbs that would silence the critics who said the F-35 could not dogfight and “crush years of misinformation about what this aircraft is capable of doing“.

While the F-35’s advanced sensor and integration avionics are designed to win the fight long before the “merge” of aerial combat into visual dogfighting range, this demonstration aimed to show the controversial Joint Strike Fighter can hold its own in a knife-fight with the Sukhois, MiGs, Chengdus, Shenyangs and other likely adversaries.

At the 2:00 mark in the video test pilot Flynn positions the F-35A at show left and performs a high-alpha, ultra low speed pass, standing the Lightning II on her tail and dancing across the Paris sky as the aircraft’s twinkle-toed elevators maintain stable flight on a boiling cushion of thrust from her growling Pratt & Whitney F135 engine. It is a spectacular sight. Enough to silence the skeptics? Hard to say. Most probably not enough, considered what people are used to see when a 4th Gen. aircraft or the F-22 are able to do during an airshow routine.

Returning to lower altirude in the demonstration box, Flynn performs a maximum performance, high-G turn with afterburner similar to what we’ve seen with many other demos. This version of the flight demonstration does not feature the open weapon bay doors as with the F-22 demo we’ve seen many times. One of the F-35A demo routines does include a pass with the weapons bay doors opened.

Honestly speaking the new PAS 2017 routine seems to be more dynamic than expected. But in terms of instantaneous and sustained turn rates the F-35 does not seem to match the performance of the famous super-maneuverable Sukhois, Eurofighter Typhoon, Gripen or Rafale (to name but few).

Still, the unique features of the JSF are its stealth design, sensor fusion capabilities and unmatched SA (Situational Awareness): that is to say all the ingredients for success in modern air-to-ground operations. Comparing the F-35 to an F-22, Typhoon or even F/A-18 in terms of energy-maneuverability is probably wrong and misleading.

So, let us know what are you thoughts after watching this demo:

a) do you think it’s more than enough considered that the aircraft will probably never be engaged in a Within Visual Range dogfight?

b) it’s rather disappointing because super-maneuverability remains a key to succeed in modern scenarios?

You judge.

Top image: file photo of the F-35 Heritage Flight Team’s F-35A validation flights on July 5, 2016.




    Odds that the F-35A would ever find itself in an unintentional, close-in dogfight with the Su-35, Typhoon, Rafael, and/or Chengdu / PAC Thunder, save for its pilot rendered unconscious from G-LOC; 0% …

    …Odds the Su-35, Typhoon, Rafael, and/or Chengdu / PAC Thunder experiencing A/A Lock-On and having to defensively engage in countermeasures via F-35A and/or coalition A/A assets directed by F-35A from a greater range than 20-miles and/or prior to being aware of any threat in the area; 100%.

    The Su-35, Typhoon, Rafael, and/or Chengdu / PAC Thunder operate via lone, singular entities with restrained verbal support and coordination via ATC and/or handicapped by the limitations of verbiage between allied-Red forces. The F-35A, on the other hand, will operate digitally connected as standard configuration via thousands of instantaneous, digitally supported, strategic commands with allied aircraft and operating as one unit against Red forces; essentially a one versus many in any and all typical scenarios.

    The F-35A playing field is basically a quantum leap in enhanced, situational awareness having eliminated pilot-workload and disbursing such to AI among and within the allied battlespace versus 1990’s SI limitations and overload totally discombobulated in comparison.

    The question should actually be; “What percentage of the time will the Su-35, Typhoon, Rafael, and/or Chengdu / PAC Thunder have the opportunity to engage their afterburner IF in the scenario they become aware of their detection by the F-35A?

    Finally, the bottom line is a significant amount of the F-35A’s methods and practices are Classified, thereby not being able to add to the argument/debate and instead, the F-35A has only been able to defend its bonafides via a 1990’s, Generation 4/4.5 scenario and basis.

    • Bertrand Violette

      Rafale is a Dassault fighter.
      Rafael is an israeli defence company

    • Bertrand Violette

      Data fusion and situation awareness are not operational after more than 100 aircrafts built!

      Data fusion and situation awareness of the F-35 are far to be better than the rafale’s ones.

      Stealth capabilities of the F-35 are limited to some angles.

      New sensors and radars bands used nowadays decrease harshly stealth technology advantages based on shape and materials. That type of stealth approach is no more a game changer if not associated to electronic steath technology.

      American F’35 fan boys are living in denial whateever the évidences coming to light years after years.

      • Mali King

        Let me correct something for you…..Data fusion and situational awareness of the F35 are far better than the Rafale’s ones. Better looking isn’t it.

        “Stealth capabilities of the F35 are limited to some angles”….not to the no kidding/pretty hot sh*t radars that unsuccessfully tried to detect and track the F35 (especially in no kidding exercises such as Red Flag 17-1)

        Funny how China and Russia are pursuing stealth fighter designs based on shaping and materials… want to know why…..ok then…..BECAUSE there is no such thing as silver bullet solution(s) to current stealth technology and there won’t be one for a long time. Even the Chinese and Russians know this!

        New sensors and radar bands….that is not evidence….that is just vagueness by you. So light on even basic details. If anything, you are the one living in denial.

        Try harder

        • PierreAyc

          And how would you know anything about the Rafale’s data fusion capabilities, given that they are not made public?

          • Mali King

            Yes they are, in a manner. Look at the reports on the recent Swiss fighter aircraft competition. You can infer that the Rafale’s sensor fusion capability from the reports…its bloody good….just not F35 good :P.

            Funny that allied air forces who have attended large Force employment exercises with USAF/USMC F35s consistently praised its performance….including the quality of the F35’s sensor fused battle space information distributed to the Allied Air Forces. When Allied Air Forces exercised with the Rafales…..hmmmm….Ok…..tepid… so….that says it all

            • PierreAyc

              Ho, you mean the report dating from what, six years ago, or seven? Long before the standard F3 sensors were being retrofitted… And they are now developping the standard F4…

              When allied forces trained with the Rafale… what allies are you talking about, I’m afraid to some extent for the French air force, there is no such thing as an ally, at least a reliable one. Meaning that you’ll never see them show their full capabilites in an international exercise. Because in case the current US administration, for instance, became so irrational as to turn against NATO nations, France needs to defend itself, and to do so they need to keep their capabilities secret. Which is why if they can detect the F-35, they won’t let the USAF know. They’d rather let themselves get shot in mock combat and look ridiculous on the Aviationist, than reveal their true power… Same when it comes to the capabilities of their data fusion.

              And you know also, what says it all: bragging about the data fusion capabilities of a stealth aircraft. Cause both concepts are kind of antinomic: if you send out data all the time, you’re not stealthy, you’re a flying radio emitter. Waves can be tracked back to their source. And LM would be silly to assume that their Russian, French or European competitors couldn’t find a way to do that, never mind what cyphering they use. In the early 1990s, when the Rafale project was being overhauled to integrate stealth issues, my father was attending a business meeting with Dassault, as an IBM consultant. He had arrange for one of IBM’s top US engineer for military matter, involved on the then X-35 project with LM, to come and present his ideas to Dassault. The guy started explaining how data fusion will work, and all the incredible potential those retarded Frenchmen could not even imagine. He had travelled 6.000km to attend the meeting… and he was allowed to talk for 10 minutes or less. Passed this time, the Dassault chief engineer stopped him and said, in substance: “thanks very much for your presentation, but here is the problem: we’re making an aircraft as difficult to detect as possible, and you’re here to teach us how to turn it into a flying emitter; we’re not interested, have a nice trip back.”

              • Mali King

                Hahahaha….really so naive? Grow up! The French Air Force may not want to advertise the full capabilities of their platforms but you bet Dassault will. Those export markets are just as or probably more important to Dassault. Loving how Dassault were boasting about the capabilities of the Rafale in Libya (exaggerated too…those Rafale pilots sure felt safer with the Growlers around…you know those American EW/EA platform)….Dassault ain’t going to hold back on any information that will give their products a competitive edge PERIOD

                You need to keep up….Rafales uses link 16 as a primary datalink… 16 is omnidirectional…..relatively detectable. F35 uses MADL (can use Link 16 too if necessary to communicate with older platforms) to communicate with other F35s…a LPI/LPD datalink that has very high grade encryption, very high frequency agility and has a very focused beam (like a LASER) with very low sidelobes. Good luck being in exactly the right position between F35s to intercept the datalink in the first place. And if you could intercept MADL, it’s like looking at very short lived and very infrequent pinpricks of light in space. Good luck forming a tactically useful vector from that!

                BTW, the Rafale do use data linked sensor fusion/information operationally and frequently too…oh gosh….those Dassault engineers better come up with stealthier datalink soon….reality will soon trumps

        • PierreAyc

          “”Stealth capabilities of the F35 are limited to some angles”….not to the no kidding/pretty hot sh*t radars that unsuccessfully tried to detect and track the F35 (especially in no kidding exercises such as Red Flag 17-1)”

          Do you actually believe that foreign air forces participating in such exercises would ever let the USAF know that they can detect the F-35? They have their own strategic interests to protect. If ever they have a way to detect it, they won’t let America know about them. And you are quite naive to think they would.

          On a different not, I am a bit skeptical about this habit of yours of expecting everyone to “try harder”. I mean, it sounds kind of gay, doesn’t it?

          • Mali King

            Actually, the opposite will be true. If foreign air forces with their indigenous/non F35 platforms could detect the F35…..they (or their local defence contractors) would crow about it…one way or another! You know why….let me tell you why….that chest beating claim would put their countries’ indigenous/partly indigenous platforms (Eurofighter, Rafale, Gripen etc) in a very good light. A petty good boost considering these platforms are competing directly against the F35 in a number of fighter aircraft competitions around the world. Nothing as strategic as winning fighter air competitions around the world….ching ching….$$$$€€€€. You are the one who is naive my boy….hmmmmm

            Case in point: Eurofighter GMBH claims that the Eurofighters (with AWACS help mind you) can detect F35s in very contrived circumstances and in theory only…..Eurofighter GMBH don’t even know if their claims are true in real life. Can you imagine the fanfare from Eurofighter GMBH if this was really true!?

            • PierreAyc

              So wrong… you don’t understand anything about the logic of French industries, how they work with the Air force, and what their imperatives are. Export sells are secondary, the French government will pay to sustain whatever program France needs in strategic terms. And to Dassault, Thales or Safran, nothing is more important than maintaining the French military’s power, because that is their long term source of revenue. You don’t betray the hand that feeds you, you see, especially not soome short term profit. That is such an American logic, or lack thereof.
              Rafale pilots are pretty close to engineers in the French defense industry. And if they learnt something that important, they would make sure no one outside of restricted French circles could learn about it. We’re not China, bragging about unproven capabilities to try and advertise products. When we have a top capability (as would be the ability to detect US stealth aircrafts), we keep it to ourselves, and we don’t even think of selling it to others; Before they do that, they would have to develop a new generation of technological advances making them capable to detect stealth aircrafts from further, more easily, through a different technological mechanism. Until they have this, they won’t mention to anyone that they have an advantage.
              Just go and study Dassault’s involvement in international competition: they have never, ever in the last 50 years offered an export aircraft with the same generation of technology they provide to the French air force…

    • Vincent

      It’s RAFALE, for fuck’s sake, not Rafael!!!

    • Henk Doorlag

      How is this different from current operational practice? Western forces always enjoy 100% air dominance with awacs and refuel available… Only SEAD is seriously dangerous, and for that you need to get down low…

  • Henk Doorlag

    it doesn’t look fast around a bend, or quick off the mark. does that matter in close air support? where visually guided GtA missiles make your stealth less usefull?
    I’m sure it’ll do fine as an penetrating strike bomber, and the F-22 will take care of any aerial threats, but if it needs to get low to support troops? maybe not get rid of the a-10’s, and keep a few F-16/F-15E on the back hand as well.

    • Uniform223

      “but if it needs to get low to support troops? maybe not get rid of the a-10’s”

      > The VAST MAJORITY of CAS missions have been done at higher altitudes. Also because CAS IS A MISSION and NOT A PLATFORM SPECIFIC.


      + The aircraft is performing “immaculately,” even in mission sets it was not built for, such as CAS, Shell says. As of May 28, the Raptor had conducted 1,150 sorties, including 497 CAS sorties, and employed 1,572 weapons since the beginning of Operation Inherent Resolve in 2014, according to the Air Force. In the CAS role, the F-22 augments the platforms already conducting that mission in the region, such as the F-15E, the B-52 bomber and the A-10, Shell says. While the A-10 is renowned for the roar of its 30-mm Gatling gun and its long loiter time, the F-22 brings precision-guided munitions (PGM) such as the GBU-32 and Small-Diameter Bomb. PGMs significantly reduce civilian casualties and potential damage to buildings and other structures in the area, Shell points out. Although the F-22 can perform CAS well, it is not built for that role as is the A-10— it is just another tool combatant commanders can use to complete the mission, Shell stresses +

      • PierreAyc

        The vast majortiy of CAS missions, certainly. As for those that are the most risky because foes and friendlies are very close to one another, they may be the smaller part, but they are the part where your tropps die if you can’t offer air support, and where they also die if the best you can bo is drop bombs, no matter how clever the bomb.
        So, good luck with getting the troopers to accept that once the enemy gets real close, they must save themselves or air support will kill them…

    • citanon

      This was planned to be a fairly low speed demo according to the guide posted on Aviation Week.

      The fact that it can climb and accelerate nearly vertically from near standstill says it has plenty of engine power to be quick when it needs to be.

      • Henk Doorlag

        no it doesn’t. It says nothing about drag, specially wave drag.
        Just engine power won’t get you everywhere

        Also, since engine consumption is dependant on total power produced (lbm/hr/lbf), just using engine power to solve your problems will link you to endurance trouble.

  • WW1, Great War.

    As a dogfighter it is outclassed, but who dogfights these days?

  • Genesis

    Mr. Flynn pls!Dont underestimate our intelligence.We have eyes,we can see.“It’s a turkey”-Pierre Sprey

  • wfraser11

    “a) do you think it’s more than enough considered that the aircraft will probably never be engaged in a Within Visual Range dogfight?”
    And the reason the author knows this is ? This scenario is the root of why people are questioning this aircraft’s combat effectiveness. Would you want to be in an aircraft that can be outmaneuvered by older aircraft? The answer is no.

  • xetl

    I’think your questions are very interestening.
    For question a), I would say : who can says what threats will encounter the F-35 during his lifetime (40 years ?).
    If you remember what happen to F117 over Serbia less than 20 years after maiden flight, we can ask ourselves what will be the future of the F-35 if the radar/IR sensor evolve quickly to detect stealth planes ?

    It seems to me that F117 was perfectly made to penetrate hostile environnement but today this plane can easly be replace by costless drones….
    On the other hand, we can admire the lifetime of the F15 which stays a great plane.
    this leads me to question b)
    If we oppose the F15 to the F-35. how many F15 will we have for the price of 1 F-35 (with a small payload )?
    For the same amount of money I’m not sure the F35 will be a better choice…

    I’m not a specialist but I’think it’s a bit early to know if the choice of RADAR stealthness over other criterias (operational costs, manoeuvrability, payload …) was right.

    • drinking12many

      Your question ” how many F15 will we have for the price of 1 F-35″ …the answer is zero the F-35A is already cheaper than the newest F-15SA

  • twistedneck

    Excellent performance in real hot air. Its not possible to measure sustained turning or instantaneous events unless those other planes were out at the same exact time. and War Haider.. who cares if you are impressed, you plane will be shot the fuck down before you have a chance to say oh shit.

  • Jason Simmons

    I think what most are missing here Tom is the F-35 flying exactly as L-M has said it would. It accelerates and climbs like an F-16 (clean) and turns like an F/A-18, after years of everyone shouting about what a ‘dog’ this aircraft is, despite L-M’s insistence to the contrary, here L-M are undeniably being proven correct. The F-35 DOES accelerate, climb and turn well. It is NOT a dog. Now if L-M are correct about that, what does that say about their claims about the F-35’s REAL strengths? Plenty…

    Now all the ‘gee whiz’ ‘super-maneuverability’ crowd can hyper-ventilate until the cows come home, but one thing they can’t do (because physics doesn’t let them) is ignore the drag and g force restrictions that hanging targetting pods, tanks, ECM pods, A2G weapons and A2A weapons on the outside of an airframe DOES place on that airframe. Yes I know, weapons and tanks can be ejected, but targetting and ECM pods can’t. Pylons can’t and your ‘gee whiz’ aircraft isn’t going far or doing much once it’s fuel and weapons have been punched off, even assuming it survives combat…

    It will be interesting watching the Russian trolls and ABJ crowd try and wiggle around this issue. Bravo L-M and thanks for helping to make such an interesting show. Not the Paris effort, though that has been great too, all the hate that has so spectacularly been silenced…

    • chrism76

      You said “turns like an F/A-18″

      The article says It is not as maneuverable as the F-18

      ” Comparing the F-35 to an F-22, Typhoon or even F/A-18 in terms of energy-maneuverability is probably wrong and misleading”

      You said “It accelerates and climbs like an F-16”

      No where in the article does it say that.

      You love the F-35 and good for you but don’t spread your lies about this article!

      • FelixA9

        What article? The one above? The dude doesn’t know much more than YOU do so I wouldn’t take it as gospel.

      • Chugs 1984

        The F-35 out accelerates, out turns and has a higher top speed against a Rafale, Typhoon, F-16, F-15 and F-18/E/F carrying 2X2000 pound bombs, 2X120 AIM D, and if those aircrafts were carying 8.1 tons of fuel .

        Indeed even the F-15 cannot carry 8.1 tons of fuel (6.3 tons).

        The F-35 has a top speed of mach 1.6 under combat load. The fastest aforementioned aircraft, the F-15 has a max combat speed of 1.3 mach.

        Whilst under combat load the F-35 out accelerates the Rafale and Typhoon.

        • PierreAyc

          Hmmm… you don’t quite know what you’re saying, I’m afraid. A Rafale can supercruise at Mach 1.8 with twice as much load as the F-35 can carry… And I won’t even mention its ability to take turns, given that it is an unstable canard design that was specifically meant for high maneuverability…

          • Mali King

            What!!!??? A Rafale can super cruise at Mach 1.8 with the twice the payload of the F35 (external payload with drag mind you!)….seriously are you pulling the other one? Even Dassault doesn’t boast this cray cray claims. Love to see your source on this Rafale Mach 1.8 Supercruise….with twice the payload of the F35…..ha! I am waiting……

        • Henk Doorlag

          Eurofigter supercruises with a credible a2a loadout. Rafale with a slightly less credible one.

  • Larry B

    Wasn’t the F-4 Phantom designed with the expectation “the aircraft will probably never be engaged in a Within Visual Range dogfight”…which turned out to be spectacularly untrue in Vietnam, and it’s piggish qualities spawned the creation of the Top Gun schools to try to get the airplane better piloted to make up for its’ extreme dogfight flaws.

    I have NO respect for what I see in the video. Its’ performance for roll rate was about as bad as many a general aviation Cessna. Standing on its’ tail in afterburner? So what? A WW2 P-51 could hang from its’ prop. That just makes for a GREAT target. Once again, the military gets dazzled by technology…and THIS is the plane they want to replace the Warthog with? Jeez.

    • veej7485

      It was not designed to do stunts…The US has the F22 and this strike aircraft to dominate

    • Uniform223

      The tired argument of using the F-4 as an example are often put up by those who do not know much about the history and tactics of aerial combat. People always seem to love sighting Vietnam as an example but so conveniently (or in my book ignorantly) leave out the performance of Israeli F-4s over the middle east… which went on during the same time as the Vietnam Conflict.

      “I have NO respect for what I see in the video”

      > because you don’t know anything to begin with…

      “Its’ performance for roll rate was about as bad as many a general aviation Cessna”

      “Standing on its’ tail in afterburner? So what?”

      > not many single engine aircraft can do that at those AoAs. If you watched closely and other videos of the same demo, it wasn’t using AB. Of course you would know this if you were paying attention but then again, I might be giving you too much credit…

      “Standing on its’ tail in afterburner? So what?”

      > yeah and stall out. Any aircraft pointing nose up at 90degrees and attempting to stay there wont last long. Its called physics… oh wait I forgot who I am commenting to.

      “That just makes for a GREAT target”

      > and a Flanker doing the same maneuver doesn’t? An aircraft that is as stealthy as a metal barn on a radar scope and is a visually larger aircraft? Do you come from a universe where 2+2 = 5?

      “Once again, the military gets dazzled by technology”

      > because in the past wars technology has made up much of the difference. The Greek Phalanx were out numbered by the Persian military but they had better weapons, armor, and most of all tactics on the field.

      “and THIS is the plane they want to replace the Warthog with?”

      > well… yeah… cause it can and it will. Did you know that as the numbers of the A-10 gradually declined, the F-16 has taken up much of the missions roles of the A-10? Did you know that even though the USMC doesn’t have the A-10, they use their Harriers and Hornets to do their CAS missions? Did you know that even though no other country besides the US has the A-10, they still are able to perform CAS mission and objectives with other aircraft? Of course if you knew this you wouldn’t be sounding so foolish.

    • VarkViper

      The F-4’s first flight was closer to the Wright Flyer’s first flight than today (55 years ago vs 59) so you might want to dive into the 21st territory for your analogies. You sound like the old cavalry troopers who couldn’t accept the Tank. The F-35 is an F-16 and F-15E replacement, not an A-10 replacement. The A-10 will be replaced by drones, unmanned fighters, direct energy weapons, airborne lasers and swarms. Also, you’re trying to compare an airshow routine to combat tactics……really? That doesn’t reflect well on your credibility.

    • Cody3/75

      The Warthog has already been replaced. Over a half a dozen deployment during the GWOT, and witnessing dozens of CAS employments, I can tell you it isn’t the A-10 that’s doing the job. It was mostly strategic bombers loitering, with legacy aircraft and rotary wing making up the remainder. The ONLY time I ever saw A-10s was when they were already on station for a specific hit. And don’t try the “but the ground troops need and love the A-10”. Yeah we love it. Just like we love any platform that get ordnance on target, on time. You literally have no idea what the fuck you’re talking about. No Cessna rolls, and P-51s stall out. Your points are utterly moronic.

      • Uniform223

        What few people do not know was that in Afghanistan the A-10 had a very small and limited AO when compared to other fixed-winged aircraft. From my understanding it was mainly because the A-10 was too slow. The Strike Eagles and Vipers made up the majority because they can cover a large distance much more quickly then an A-10. I personally do not know any combat veteran who has served in Afghanistan say that they waved off another aircraft because it wasn’t an A-10.

        • PierreAyc

          It’s a good point you make here. Yet I believe I gave you a link before to testimonies of troopers who served in Afghanistan, and are saying they felt so much safer with the A-10. The difference would be that the A-10 being slower, it would have to take off and loiter around as the ground mission is taking place. So it must be warned in advance. While other aircraft can take off and act on short notice, to respond to emergency situations.

  • Honestly watching this I saw nothing special. Nothing really about this demonstration was exciting or ground breaking. I’m not going to say the F-35 isn’t needed – as certainly it is – but as far as the next great airborne hope it is not. This program has been dogged for years by cost overruns, re-evaluations of performance requirements, quality problems, and delays. There are fanboys on both sides. When push comes to shove, the limited internal payload is going to be the biggest limitation. It’s useful for the first days in a conflict, when the enemy still has air defenses and aircraft to threaten our air force and our navy. It is in these initial days when strikes against C&C, SEAD, and air superiority missions are so crucial. It can perform strikes but to perform SEAD against current generation system it needs to carry external weaponry, which negates the the whole point of stealth. It isn’t meant to perform air superiority and with the F-22 there’s no sense assigning it to CAP roles. Once air superiority has been achieved and once an enemy air defense network is neutralized, the F-35 is just another aircraft in the skies. It’s useful sure but to make it our primary aircraft is just a waste of money.

    • Mali King

      Why would you perform SEAD against air defense systems with the carriage of external weapons (thus ruining your RCS/LO) when the point of internal carriage is to minimize your RCS/observability in the first place? It is much easier to do SEAD with a minimised RCS/observability! And there are weapons such as SDB I, SDB IIs, SPEAR 3 etc that are small enough to fit several of them in an internal weapons bay and these weapons have enough stand off range to keep the attacking aircraft in relative safety.

      The F35 is bang for the buck really…..a platform that can do first day of war missions, NTISR, EA/EW, formation and dissemination of a common battle space situation picture with other networked assets, post first day of war missions loaded up with mucho external ordnance…..just one platform! -> may as well make this multitalented platform one of your primary aircraft!

      Looking the moves the F35A pulled at Le Bourget….I say it’s pretty impressive for a non thrust vectoring, non delta canard, single engined fighter utilizing an interim software package. I would to see a F16 perform a high AOA loop followed by a pedal turn!

      • PierreAyc

        “Why would you perform SEAD against air defense systems with the carriage of external weapons (thus ruining your RCS/LO) when the point of internal carriage is to minimize your RCS/observability in the first place?”

        Why would you need SEAD through the use of 120 tomahoawks against Libyan air defenses while the Rafale had already flown over the whole country twice to gather intelligence and strike a few targets, without Libyans radars ever picking them despite their lack of internal bays? Because contrary to the Rafale, F-15s aren’t capable to create stealth through active jamming…
        Proof that stealth designs are only useful against the most modern defense systems (at best, and admitting that such systems would be resistant to jamming), and that in any other case, other solutions work perfectly fine. So you might consider that the US needs to be prepared to face worthy armed forces with modern systems, but it demonstrates that there was no need for the numbers of F-35 planned, and that other, cheaper, more clever solutions existed that would have done the trick in 98% of situations the USAF faces, and those solutions could have been adapted to legacy aircraft.

        • Mali King

          It is not that hard to understand the USAF’s calculus…..legacy platforms are wearing out physically over time and need replacing. If the USAF can purchase significantly more capable next generation manned platforms (e.g. F 35) at or very near the price of previous generation platforms which has been upgraded with various next generation systems (to remain somewhat competitive) +/- SLEP……why wouldn’t you? Its lots of relative bang for the buck to purchase next generation platforms like the F35. The F35A
          per unit price (including engines) has dipped below $100 million now and is continuing to fall significantly further over time.

          Don’t forget that the 1700+ F35As for the USAF is the total number of F35As acquired over the life of the F35 program….the USAF wouldn’t have 1700+ F35As at any one time…many of the earliest F35As would have been retired when the last batch of F35As roll off the production line.

          • PierreAyc

            “The F35A per unit price (including engines) has dipped below $100 million now and is continuing to fall significantly further over time.”
            After all the good knowledge you’ve displayed so far, you’ve just disappointed me in a way you can never amend… How can you swallow LM’s PR campaigns so easily. Here is the point: price tag per aircraft is INSIGNIFICANT. What matters is price tag per aircraft available at all time, per flight hours provided, per training time for each pilot, and per ordnance delivered on target. And all of this reported to the aircraft’s lifetime by counting maintenance and retrofit cost (god, retrofitting the hundreds already bought will cost so much…).
            The F35 has miserable availability and combat-readiness rates; it doesn’t fly much even if you just count duration of each sortie (due to this little overheating problem, you know, like on your old Peugeot…); therefore it can’t train pilots as long as one needs to be good in combat (although being an all computerised machine, simulators will offer a good alternative, but one that cannot compensate for lack of flying); and it does not carry much ordnance., meaning you’ll have to make more aircraft available to deliver so many bombs, therefore you’ll have to have even more in stock due to bad availability, and at the end, having the same firepower at all times will force you to by 4 or 5 aircraft when you used to buy 1!! I reckon it makes up (in part) for the last point, ordnance, by flying close to targets, which supposedly means it doesn’t miss them. But still.
            With the Rafale’s technological step, the French air force went from more than 700 aircraft to a targeted max number of 225 after the Mirage 2000 retires (starting in about 12 years), and while drastically reducing the number of aircraft, it significantly increased the number of bombs it can send at once, the accuracy of those bombs, the training time for pilots, and its ability to project far from home. Same goes for the French aeronaval. Now, that is what technological development is supposed to provide…
            The truth is that with the F35, and imagining constant cost compared to now, the USAF wont be able to field half the firepower it can field now, it won’t be able to project half as fast or as effectively as it does now, and it won’t be able to deliver half the bombs and missiles it can theoretically deliver now.
            I am not even mentioning the depletion of all other systems and platforms that might occur in the USN and USMC.

  • franciwzm

    Sustained turn rate of sukhoys is bad in subsonic, very very very bad in supersonic: indian pilots claims thta mirage2000-5 is much more agile then su30mki; sukhoys are very draggy airframes good just at losse speed and turn in subsonic, (istantaneous subsonic turn rate). F22 pilots claims is not good to use directional thursth in dacts vs typhoon and rafale, as their continous turn rate is excellent. istantaneous turn rate is important just when your a bombing or using old air to air wvr missiles with limited radian such as russian ones.

    • Uniform223

      ” F22 pilots claims is not good to use directional thursth in dacts vs typhoon and rafale”

      > Depends on the situation of the DACTs.

      • franciwzm

        F22 since 2005 play dacts just in wvr range vs eurocanards

        • Uniform223

          While the Eurofighter is no slouch, neither is the F-22 Raptor. Raptors even without JMHCS are still able to hold its own very well in WVR engagements. The TVC of the F-22 allows the F-22 to point its nose faster then Eurofighter. This has been demonstrated and documented.

          +USAF sources say that the Typhoon has good energy and a pretty good first turn, but that they were able to outmanoeuvre the Germans due to the Raptor’s thrust vectoring. Additionally, the Typhoon was not able to match the high angle of attack capability of the F-22. “We ended up with numerous gunshots,” another USAF pilot says.+

          mind you during those DACT engagements the Eurofighter was flying clean and light… in that configuration the Eurofighter will always have its best performance. Though when looking like this…

          still very good but no dice.

          Though TVC isn’t the end all be all, it does offer advantages (as well as disadvantages) over conventional non TVC aircraft.

          • franciwzm

            Yes, but they losse kinematic energy; it has been documentated the f22 pilots say that it is abd idea to use thrusth vectoring noozles vs high energy saving fighters like typhhoon and raphale; may be you don’t low, but limited angle wvr missiles are bad missiles: IRIST has 360 degrees radian coverage and it is even certified in defensive role vs other wvr missiles..(And vs bigger and lessa gile missile such bvr missile their defensive task shpould be easier)

            • Uniform223

              ” they losse kinematic energy; it has been documentated the f22 pilots say that it is abd idea to use thrusth vectoring noozles vs high energy saving fighters like typhhoon and raphale”

              > Well that is the kicker, do stay fast or to go slow? A somewhat classic example of fast vs slow is F-16 vs F/A-18. The F-16 doesn’t want to go slow against an F/A-18 and the F/A-18 doesn’t want to go fast against an F-16. Any aircraft pass a certain AoA will loose energy, F-22, Su-35, Typhoon, Rafale, Hornet, etc. However the F-22 is exceptional as that it has very good handling and maneuverability at low speeds and as well at higher speeds (due to its thrust vectoring). What most people see at demos or think of when it comes to thrust vectoring is at low altitudes and at low speeds. As former F-22 test pilot, Paul Metz said in an interview,

              +What is not widely known is that thrust-vectoring plays a big role in high speed, supersonic maneuvering. All aircraft experience a loss of control effectiveness at supersonic speeds. To generate the same maneuver supersonically as subsonically, the controls must be deflected further. This, in turn, results in a big increase in supersonic trim drag and a subsequent loss in acceleration and turn performance. The F-22 offsets this trim drag, not with the horizontal tails, which is the classic approach, but with the thrust vectoring. With a negligible change in forward thrust, the F-22 continues to have relatively low drag at supersonic maneuvering speed. . But drag is only part of the advantage gained from thrust vectoring. By using the thrust vector for pitch control during maneuvers the horizontal tails are free to be used to roll the airplane during the slow speed fight. This significantly increases roll performance and, in turn, point-and-shoot capability. This is one of the areas that really jumps out to us when we fly with the F-16 and F-15. The turn capability of the F-22 at high altitudes and high speeds is markedly superior to these older generation aircraft.+

              The F-22 with its aerodynamic design, powerful engines, and TVCs allows the aircraft to comfortably fight in many flight envelopes. If it wants to go slow and take advantage of its higher AoA capabilities, it can do that. If it wants to stay fast, it can do that as well. The real trick is when and how to use thrust vectoring.

              It should be pointed out however that recent changes to the Typhoon have been tested and completed to increase its AoA capability.


              To my knowledge however no current users of the Typhoon has had these modifications done to their aircraft in inventory.

  • Canaan Rhodes

    RE: “Typhoon or even F/A-18 in terms of energy-maneuverability is probably wrong and misleading.”

    I invite anyone who reads this to do a side by side analysis of the F-35A & the F/A-18E/F. Compare “Empty weight, Max internal fuel (lbs), A/B thrust (lbs), Dry thrust, A/B T/W ratio @ 50% fuel, Dry T/W ratio @ 50% fuel, A/B T/W ratio @ 4,000 lbs fuel, A/B T/W ratio @ 4,000 lbs fuel & all thrust power plant outputs with 2 GE F414s versus 1 PW F135 factored in.

    Once the research is completed please explain how “F/A-18 in terms of energy-maneuverability is probably wrong and misleading.”


    This needs to be approved by the Aviationist? Remind me not to bookmark this so I don’t have to waste my time & return to see if it is zapped!

  • brimstone

    After viewing the video of the F-35 aerial demo I have to say that I wasn’t very impressed. It looked better than I thought it would but it only seemed comparable to a 4th gen aircraft in maneuverability and acceleration. I guess I expected a 5th gen performance, but then again it’s not an F-22 with twin engines and thrust vectoring.

  • Boon Huat Tan

    Good enough… look at all the Su 27family of fighters.. so cobra at air show seems so cool. in real war is useless….

  • Kyle Duren

    Kudos to the camera guy, great following!

  • stb

    probably not as quick in turn in as a Rafale for example, but who Knows? Only a test pilot can tell after flying with all.

    As for the question raised, in combat you never know if F-35s will be forced to take action in a closed dogfight…so it is an issue…..

  • Vincenzo Nuzzi

    Don’t forget is still limited to 7G’s…

  • rwnutjob

    If you think they showed ALL the capability, you’re not thinking strategically.

  • Mali King

    The F35 has already dominated F16s in knife fights in BFM/ACM exercises. Just ask your friendly local F35 pilot or google Major Morten “Dolby” Hanche….

  • ReggieV

    The square loop was good, as was the low speed demo. The falling leaf was really cool.
    There was a bit of over shoot and correcting in both pitch and roll. Hard to believe that a “star test pilot” would have that issue. The elevators were hard at work, moving quite a bit just to hold attitude.
    These are just my humble observations.