Pentagon and Lockheed Martin, the lead company building the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, came to the defence of the jet following reports it was outperformed by a 40-year-old F-16 jet.
In a mock battle held over the Pacific Ocean between the aircraft meant to be the most advanced jet ever and an F-16 which was built in the 1970s, the aircraft that has cost the US military more than $350 billion under-performed to a level where it could not hit an enemy plane or save itself from the gunfire.
However, defending the F-35, Pentagon and Lockheed Martin said the aircraft saying the aircraft used in the test was not equipped to the same standard of its front-line aircraft and did not have its ‘stealth coating’.
Further, the Joint Program Office in an online statement claimed the F-35 does not have the software necessary for sensors to work and locate enemy.
“The aircraft was not equipped with the weapons or software that allow the F-35 pilot to turn, aim a weapon with the helmet, and fire at an enemy without having to point the airplane at its target,” it said.
The dogfight organised in January in California to test F-35’s ability in 10,000 to 30,000 feet close-range combat as both the aircraft were tasked to ‘shoot’ each other down.
Interestingly, the F-16 won the fight despite being weighed down by at least two drop tanks for extra fuel.
Substantiating the report, Air Force Lt Gen Chris Bogdan, in charge of the F-35 programme, admitted the planes had been hit by simple mistakes. From the wingtip lights that were not in conformity with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to tires not pursuant with landings, it had several flaws.
The fifth-generation aircraft had been designed to excel in electronic warfare, air-to-surface combat and air-to-air combat.
The aircraft had orders in line with Royal Air Force seeking eight F-35s next year. Further, US Vice President Joe Biden promised a delivery to Israel ‘next year’, in addition to reports Tel Aviv had approved a new deal to add 14 more jets to its 2010 order for 19 aircraft, as reported by RT.com.
The article first appeared on Daily Mail.