As one of our followers here on FighterSweep, you’re probably someone that likes to keep track of the latest news on America’s most advanced fighters–especially the stealthy, badass fifth-generation F-22 and F-35. More specifically, you’ve probably been keeping tabs on the development of the F-35–its setbacks, its achievements, and its march toward IOC. That also means you may have run across an article that screams, “The F-35 can’t beat the plane it’s replacing in a dogfight!”
As a taxpayer, reading that probably pisses you off. After all, the F-35 acquisitions program is one of the most twisted and over-budget jobs programs in the history of the U.S. military. It’s late. It’s expensive. It’s bloated. It can’t even fly within twenty-five miles of a thunderstorm because they had to remove lightning protection to save on weight–a requirement for the Marines so they could take off and land vertically in the F-35B.
There are hundreds of valid complaints on this aircraft, but the latest clickbait headlines scattering social media aren’t among them; it’s as though suddenly everyone is Colonel John Boyd reincarnate and knows what the problem is.
Now, before we get into the why, let me first preface all of this by saying I don’t have a dog in this fight. I don’t work for Lockheed-Martin. I have nothing to do with the Air Force, Navy, or Marine Corps acquisitions process. As I mentioned in my Hornet versus Viper comparison, the Viper is my first love–so naturally I smiled a little when I read the headline.