More than 1 trillion dollars and years of delays have made America’s new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter unable to defeat an F-16 – a more than 40-year-old design.
The test pilot’s five-page brief said that despite the F-16 being weighed down by two drop tanks, and with the F-35 jet carrying no weapons, the F-35 “remained at a distinct energy disadvantage for every engagement.”
The mock dogfights, staged over the Pacific Ocean, was to test the F-35’s prowess as a close-range fighter between 10,000 and 30,000 feet. Designed to far exceed the fourth-generation F-16 jets, that first entered service in the 70’s, the dogfight instead highlighted numerous problems with the Joint Strike Fighter.
The test pilot’s log shows multiple problems, including “insufficient pitch rate” of the plane’s nose while climbing, leaving the plane unable to maneuver quickly.
The much vaunted next-generation helmet is now too large for the space inside the canopy and the pilot could not move his head inside the canopy. “The helmet was too large for the space inside the canopy to adequately see behind the aircraft,” said the report, allowing the F-16 to sneak up behind the JSF.
In engagement after engagement, the F-35 was too slow and too cumbersome to properly dogfight.
At one point, the F-35 pilot tried to target the F-16 with the stealth jet’s 25-millimeter cannon, which the smaller F-16 easily dodged. The pilot said the F-35 performed so dismally that it had no place fighting other aircraft within visual range.
But it can still do this:
So… everything’s cool, right?
The Pentagon has confirmed the dogfight did happen as reported in an email to the Washington Post:
[The Pentagon] did not dispute the authenticity of the pilot’s remarks, and said they were investigating how the report, marked “For Official Use Only,” was leaked.