The F-35’s ability to compete against other fighter aircraft in a close-in dogfight, even against the decades old designs it looks to replace, has always been a contentious issue. Long ago, the F-35’s maneuverability was planned to far exceed that of fourth generation fighters. Over time, those claims eroded to the point where the troubled stealth jet is described as being “about as maneuverable as an F-16.” . . .And now we have a first-hand account of a simulated dogfight:
The test pilot flying the F-35 makes it very clear that the new jet, even in its ideal configuration without any external stores, was no match against a Block-40 F-16C in a less-than-ideal configuration with a pair of under-wing fuel tanks:Great way to spend a few hundred billion, no?
Even with the limited F-16 target configuration, the F-35A remained at a distinct energy disadvantage for every engagement.
In dogfighting, energy is everything, and if your enemy has more kinetic and potential energy for maneuvers than you do, then you’re toast.