According to a new report released by the Project on Government Oversight (POGO, a part of the Straus Military Reform Project), the long-awaited close air support flyoff between the legendary A-10 Thunderbolt II and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has finally begun — although, according to some experts, the secrecy surrounding the event isn’t the only thing that seems fishy.
The comparison testing, intended to see if the F-35 could feasibly serve as a functional replacement for the venerated A-10 in the realm of close air support, began on July 5 and will conclude on the 12th, with only four days of actual flights therein. The testing is being conducted at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in Arizona, and it would appear that the branch not only hoped to keep the testing quiet despite significant public interest. However, they also aimed to stack the deck in favor of the forthcoming fifth-generation fighter, which is already touted as the future of the force regardless of the test’s outcome.
Dan Grazier, a military fellow at POGO who claims to have spoken to some officials involved in the fly off that requested anonymity, described the flyoff as stacked in favor of the F-35, at the expense of realism. He wrote,
They are staging an unpublicized, quickie test on existing training ranges, creating unrealistic scenarios that presuppose an ignorant and inert enemy force, writing ground rules for the tests that make the F-35 look good — and they got the new testing director, the retired Air Force general Robert Behler, to approve all of it.”