The debate over whether or not the  F-35 is worth the $1.5+ trillion price tag will likely continue for decades to come, but with the fifth-generation platform entering into combat service with both U.S. and Isreali forces earlier this year,  it seemed a good time to revisit another longstanding debate: how the F-35 stacks up against the aircraft its slated to replace.

The F-35 is touted as a multi-role fighter, set to absorb the combat responsibilities of platforms like the F/A-18 Hornets and Super Hornets employed by the Navy and Marine Corps, as well as the F-16 Fighting Falcon housed in Air Force hangars and even the infantry-favorite A-10. America’s aerial prize-fighters, the F-15 and F-22, on the other hand, were built to serve a different purpose in near-peer combat operations, but that doesn’t stop most people from drawing comparisons between the F-22 and F-35 whenever these discussions pop up. They are, after all, the two most capable fifth generation fighters in the world (and depending on how you score the card, possible the only operational ones).

A few years ago, Major John Wilson, an Air Force F-35 pilot, took a few minutes to discuss how his aircraft stacks up against the legacy platforms its slated to replace. Wilson offers a pretty reasonable approach, acknowledging that the F-35 can’t beat a platform like the legendary A-10 in close air support (CAS) operations, but pointing to the aircraft’s other strengths in equal measure.

Check it below and decide for yourself: Is the F-35 all it’s cracked up to be?


Feature image courtesy of the U.S. Air Force