There is an abundance of controversy surrounding the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. And a new report released this week by US progressive think tank National Security Network has fueled the debate even further.
The F-35 is being touted as the replacement to the F-16. However, the $1.4 trillion F-35 program has been riddled with issues. The latest report claims the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is inferior to foreign jets it is expected to outperform in engagements and barely justifies replacing the older models currently deployed by the Pentagon.
The report claims the F-35 performance characteristics are inferior to those of 4th-generation aircraft deployed by advanced foreign powers like Russia or China.
Four key areas in which the F-35 does not deliver was stated in the report: poor maneuverability that makes it vulnerable in dogfights, small internal payload capacity, short operational range and reliance on stealth technology for survivability.
“The F-35 will find itself outmaneuvered, outgunned, out of range, and visible to enemy sensors,” NSN’s policy analyst Bill French said. “Going forward, full investment in the F-35 would be to place a bad trillion-dollar bet on the future of airpower based on flawed assumptions and an underperforming aircraft.
“To avoid such a catastrophic outcome, Congress and DOD should begin the process of considering alternatives to a large-scale commitment to the F-35. Staying the present course may needlessly gamble away a sizable margin of American airpower at great expense and unnecessary risk to American lives,” he added.
“Compared to both the Su-27 and the MiG-29, the F-35 is grossly inferior in terms of wing loading (except for the F-35C), transonic acceleration, and thrust-to-weight. All F-35 variants also have significantly lower maximum speeds,” the report said.
The F-35 is meant to replace the F-16, F-18 and AV-8B Harrier, but according to the report, the F-35 is worse in thrust, acceleration and wing loading. “These performance factors are critical to building up speed and gaining or retaining energy that enables the aircraft to maneuver and gain advantages in firing position against other aircraft or defeating incoming missiles,” French wrote.