On the scale of military disasters, it ranks somewhere between the Charge of the Light Brigade and the Bay of Pigs Invasion.
If you didn't know, the F-35 is supposed to be the new aircraft that the Air Force, Navy, and Marines are going to use for everything. It's supposed to be the air-superiority fighter and our air-to-ground strike aircraft.
Accordingly, if you're keeping score at home, that's a single aircraft for service across three branches of the military, and at least two distinct roles. It's essentially being asked to do everything in one platform. Which, I don't have to point out, is a horribly dumb-ass idea. But, it's a horribly dumb-ass idea. One plane can't be all things to all people. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to figure that one out.
So, the F-35, as the aircraft of the future is supposed to replace lots of different aircraft. One in particular is the venerable F-16. The F-16 was designed in the 1970s and is our current highly-maneuverable, light fighter aircraft that we use for basic air superiority. You would think that the new F-35 that we've spent over One Trillion on would be better, right? Yes. One freakin' Trillion dollars. I think you have to put your pinky finger up to the corner of your mouth when you say that. But you would think it would be better than the aircraft its replacing, right?
Well, in point of fact, no.
Apparently, the federal government has managed to spend over a trillion dollars to produce an aircraft that is inferior in air-to-air combat that the very aircraft that it's supposed to replace. How do we know this? Well, they had a little mock dogfight.
Yeah, it's bad. Oh, and if you're going to reply that dogfighting is obsolete, well, the last time dogfighting was considered obsolete was Vietnam. Many pilots died because of that thinking.The F-35 was flying “clean,” with no weapons in its bomb bay or under its wings and fuselage. The F-16, by contrast, was hauling two bulky underwing drop tanks, putting the older jet at an aerodynamic disadvantage.But the JSF’s advantage didn’t actually help in the end. The stealth fighter proved too sluggish to reliably defeat the F-16, even with the F-16 lugging extra fuel tanks. “Even with the limited F-16 target configuration, the F-35A remained at a distinct energy disadvantage for every engagement,” the pilot reported.