A few days ago, it was revealed that the F-35 “Joint Strike Fighter” lost all of its close-range combat tests against the legacy F-16 fighter (which the former is intended to replace) when such mock engagements occurred in January of this year.
No sooner did such reports emerge than the Pentagon engaged in a heavy spin campaign to protect the F-35 at all costs, lying blatantly to the public:
“The media report on the F-35 and F-16 flight does not tell the entire story. The F-35 involved was AF-2, which is an F-35 designed for flight sciences testing, or flying qualities, of the aircraft. It is not equipped with a number of items that make today’s production F-35s 5th Generation fighters,” a JPO office written statement said.
In particular, the JPO statement explained that the AF-2 test aircraft did not have the mission systems software designed to utilize the aircraft’s next-generation sensors.
In short, the F-35 is engineered with a suite of next-generation sensors designed to help the aircraft recognize, detect and destroy enemy targets at longer distances — long before it can be identified by an enemy aircraft.
“While the dogfighting scenario was successful in showing the ability of the F-35 to maneuver to the edge of its limits without exceeding them, and handle in a positive and predictable manner, the interpretation of the scenario results could be misleading. The F-35’s technology is designed to engage, shoot, and kill its enemy from long distances, not necessarily in visual ‘dogfighting’ situations,” the JPO said.
The F-35 office also said the AF-2 test aircraft was not equipped with the F-35’s special stealth coating designed to make the aircraft invisible to enemy radar.
In addition, the JPO statement said the AF-2 “is not equipped with the weapons or software that allow the F-35 pilot to turn, aim a weapon with the helmet, and fire at an enemy without having to point the airplane at its target.”
Here is our rebuttal of the Pentagon’s spin.