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
"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,"
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.