Tuesday, April 18, 2017

US Marine Corps Major (retired) tries to defend the F-35's poor dogfighting ability...

So on Business Insider an retired USMC Major tried and fails (horribly) to defend the F-35's lackluster performance in the dogfighting role.  Read the entire article here but a couple of tidbits...
The F-35 Joint Strike Figher represents the US Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps' vision for the future of combat aviation, but a damning 2015 report detailed how the F-35 had lost in dogfights with F-16s and F-15s — the very planes it was intended to replace.

Essentially it came down to energy management in the early days of the F-35's testing, according to the report.

During a dogfight, jets have to manage extreme amounts of kinetic energy while making pinpoint turns and maneuvers.

With smaller wings than some legacy fighters and an inferior thrust-to-weight ratio, the early F-35 pilots found it nearly impossible to engage with F-16s.

The report has since become a talking point for detractors of the F-35 program who say it's too expensive and not capable.

But according to retired US Marine Corps Maj. Dan Flatley, who helped design the training syllabus for F-35 dogfights, the F-35's lackluster performance against legacy jets had more to do with old habits of the pilots and a weapons system in its infancy rather than anything wrong with the F-35 concept itself.

"When you first get in the F-35 and try to fight it visually, you immediately go back to everything you knew in your legacy fighter," Flatley told Business Insider in a phone interview.
Then this...
 "If you try to fight it like a fighter, it isn’t. You’re going to have terrible results," Flatley said of the F-35. Like any new weapons system, the F-35 takes some getting used to. In 2015, F-35 pilots were pulled from other fighters and introduced to a plane that fundamentally reimagined aerial warfare. A learning curve had to be covered.

Unlike dogfighters from World War II, the F-35 mainly focuses on flying undetected while using its array of fused sensors to paint a clear picture of the threat environment for miles out and to engage with targets before they're ever seen.

As exciting as dogfights are, it's been decades since a US jet engaged an enemy in a turning dogfight, and the F-35's design reflects that new reality.

"If I went out and fought an F/A-18 on day one I’d get destroyed," said Flatley. "But if you do what the jet is really good at, you can do things those other jets wouldn’t dream of."
I took entire passages and not snippets of the conversation that the BI author posted.

Having said that, does this sound like the airplane the US should depend on for future air superiority?  To quote the good Major.
"If I went out and fought an F/A-18 on day one I’d get destroyed," said Flatley.
Well said Major!  Extremely well said!

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