- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The U.S. Air Force’s new F-35 struggled in a dogfight with the plane it is supposed to replace.

A five-page report obtained by Medium’s War is Boring columnist said a test pilot was at a “distinct energy disadvantage” during the training, The Diplomat reported Wednesday. The author of the piece said the only feasible way to engage the F-16 was to pull off a specific maneuver that usually only works once.

“The technique required a commitment to lose energy and was a temporary opportunity prior to needing to regain energy … and ultimately end up defensive again,” the author wrote, War is Boring reported.

The F-35 pilot also complained that it was difficult to engage the F-16 with 25mm cannon and that his helmet was too cumbersome for a dogfight, The Diplomat reported.

The aviation news and technology website Fighter Sweep pushed back against the report in a piece titled “Why The ‘F-35 v F-16’ Article Is Garbage.”

“This aircraft is still in its infancy,” Fighter Sweep reported Wednesday. “Tactics, techniques, and procedures that key on strengths and minimize weaknesses are just starting to be developed. Taking one report and proclaiming that the F-35 is a piece of [Foreign Object Damage] in the air-to-air arena is irresponsible and sensationalist at best. There are far too many other factors to look at.”

The website did say, however, that “as a taxpayer, reading [the dogfight story] probably pisses you off. After all, the F-35 acquisitions program is one of the most twisted and over-budget jobs programs in the history of the U.S. military.”

The Diplomat reported that operation and maintenance costs for the F-35 fleet are projected to be over $1 billion over the next four decades.

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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