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Sun, Sep 21, 2008

Lockheed Martin 'Sets The Record Straight' On F-35 Lightning II

Former Defense Secretary Aide Says JSF Is "A Dog"

US Air Force analyses show the F-35 Lightning II is at least 400 percent more effective in air-to-air combat capability than the best fighters currently available in the international market, according to the plane's manufacturer Lockheed Martin.

That terse statement comes following claims made last week by industry watcher Winston Wheeler and Pierre Sprey, an aide to then-Defense Secretary James Schlesinger in the early 1970s. Sprey was a member of the team that produced such accomplished fighters as the F-16, and A-10 Warthog... and he says recent combat simulations against a variety of current aircraft show "the F-35 is a dog," when compared against Saab's Gripen, the Dassault Rafale, MiG-35 and Sukhoi Su-35, and the Eurofighter Typhoon.

Sprey's comments came after reports in Australian newspapers earlier this month, that claimed F-35s were "clubbed like baby seals" by simulated Sukhois during the Pacific Vision 2008 wargames exercise in Hawaii.

Lockheed maintains that in using the USAF's standard air-to-air engagement analysis model, also used by allied air forces to assess air-combat performance, the F-35 was pitted against all advanced 4th generation fighters in a variety of simulated scenarios. "The results were clear: the F-35 outperformed the most highly evolved fighters in aerial combat by significant margins," Lockheed claims.

"In all F-35 Program Office and US Air Force air-to-air combat effectiveness analysis to date, the F-35 enjoys a significant Combat Loss Exchange Ratio advantage over the current and future air-to-air threats, to include Sukhois," said Maj. Gen. Charles R. Davis, F-35 program executive officer.

Recent claims that Russian fighters defeated F-35s in simulated combat are untrue, Davis added.

"The reports are completely false and misleading and have absolutely no basis in fact," Maj. Gen. Davis said. "The August 2008 Pacific Vision Wargame that has been referenced recently in the media did not even address air-to-air combat effectiveness. The F-35 is required to be able to effectively defeat current and projected air-to-air threats. All available information, at the highest classification, indicates that F-35 is effectively meeting these aggressive operational challenges."

Lockheed described the Pacific Vision Wargame as "a table-top exercise," designed to assess basing and force-structure vulnerabilities. It did not include air-to-air combat exercises or any comparisons of different aircraft platforms.

"It's not clear why they attacked the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program," said Tom Burbage, Lockheed Martin executive vice president of F-35 program integration. "It is clear they don't understand the underlying requirements of the F-35 program, the capabilities needed to meet those requirements or the real programmatic performance of the JSF team.

"The critics seem to get credibility, but the program doesn't," Burbage added.

Sprey and Wheeler stand by their accusations... saying the F-35 appears too fast for a tactical role, too 'delicate' in head-to-head combat, and too flammable to withstand sustained rounds from ground fire, according to Reuters.

FMI: www.lockheedmartin.com, www.jsf.mil

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