Design Engineering

F-35 test pilot says JSF can’t dogfight

Mike McLeod   

General Aerospace f-35 Joint Strike Fighter slideshow

Design problems with JSF allows 40-year-old F-16 to consistently outmanoeuvre the sluggish F-35 in mock air battle, leaked report reveals.

15-June-F-35-F-16-dogfight-625A less than complementary report – obtained and posted by defense journalist David Axe reporting for’s “War is Boring” site – gives the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter a woefully poor rating in terms of its ability to dogfight.

According to the unnamed test pilot — who flew an F-35a in “Top Gun”-style mock air battles with an F-16 in January — the trillion-dollar fighter jet was at a “distinct energy disadvantage” against its opponent although the F-35 was unladen while the F-16 carried under-wing fuel tanks. In layman’s terms, energy disadvantage means the JSF cornered and climbed too sluggishly to either hit the enemy plane or evade its gunfire.

To add to the controversial jet’s problems, the test pilot also reported the high-tech helmet worn by F-35 fighter jockeys was too large for the cramped cockpit. This prevented the pilot from tracking his opponent or “checking his 6,” thus allowing the F-16, which is slated to be replaced by the F-35, to sneak up behind its supposedly superior successor.



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