In a joint test project that involved dog fights between the new F-35 and two F-16Ds, as well as close-range combat maneuvers, the results were somewhat surprising.
According to a report by the pilot “Even with the limited F-16 target configuration, the F-35A remained at a distinct energy disadvantage for every engagement.”, indicating that the F-35A was no match for the F-16s.
During the test flights, the F-35A was constantly flying slower and running more sluggish, which subsequently made it unable to effectively maneuver to get the F-16 in its sights.
The report also stated that the new, hyped 21st century high-tech helmet was “… too large for the space inside the canopy to adequately see behind the aircraft,”, which then made it impossible to keep constant visual contact with the F-16 during the fight.
November of 2014, F-16 co-designer Pierre Sprey concluded that the F-35 “inherently a terrible plane, because it’s built based on a dumb idea’, according to a report by CBC’s The The Fifth Estate. He said “You’ve compromised the aircraft horribly for three different missions, and then you’ve compromised it again for three different services.” It was “astonishingly unmaneuverable” because of its ratio of wing surface to weight. “In dogfighting, it’s hopeless.”
Although some other experts dispute Sprey’s comments, the F-35 test pilot seemed to agree with his comments.
Although hundreds of millions of dollars have already been spent on the F-35, maybe we should pause its development, review the test data from this and other test projects and determine the next course of action.
It may be prudent to provide a report on the new technology that was developed for the F-35, including the helmet and refine them. Then consider developing a specific set of new aircraft plans that do not include multilevel design, and then incorporate each of these new technologies into three separate new fighter planes (fighter, bomber, etc.).
This way, we will have more efficient aircraft that would incorporate all the new 21st century technologies, yet optimized for one specific purpose for each plane of their required categories.