Close Air Dogfight, Aged F-16 Falcon Waxes Younger F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

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A test pilot report recently obtained reports that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter constantly found itself flying slower and more sluggishly, unable to effectively maneuver to get the F-16 in its sights in a recent mock air battle against the 40 year design of the F-16 Fighting Falcon.

The F-16D was even encumbered with under-wing external fuel drop-tanks, which in theory would have put the aircraft at an aerodynamic disadvantage to the un-encumbered F-35.

Apparently the F-35’s high-tech helmet didn’t help matters. “The helmet was too large for the space inside the canopy to adequately see behind the aircraft,” the pilot reported, which made it impossible to keep visual contact with the F-16 during the dogfight.

Pierre Sprey the F-16 co-designer had this to say about the F-35. “inherently a terrible plane, because it’s built based on a dumb idea”—a multirole, multi-service aircraft. “You’ve compromised the aircraft horribly for three different missions, and then you’ve compromised it again for three different services.” He said the aircraft was “astonishingly unmaneuverable” because of its ratio of wing surface to weight. “In dogfighting, it’s hopeless.”


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“Close Air Dogfight, Aged F-16 Falcon Waxes Younger F-35 Joint Strike Fighter”