F-35 fighter loses dogfight to 1970s F-16 jet

Published: July 4, 2015
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An F-35 fighter jet of United States Airforce. PHOTO: AFP

An F-35 fighter jet of United States Airforce. PHOTO: AFP

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’.

Read: India orders 36 Rafale fighter jets from France

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.

Read: Following threats, fighter jets escort Air France flight to New York

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.

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Reader Comments (17)

  • Asfandeyar Niazi
    Jul 4, 2015 - 2:47PM

    40 years on and the Fighting Falcon is still going strong. Recommend

  • Mrs Juicy Gossips
    Jul 4, 2015 - 4:10PM

    @Asfandeyar Niazi: Were the pilots equally capable ? Anyway, by matter of induction, since the JF-17 is supposedly better than the F-16 and Euro fighter, it may hold its ground against the F-35.Recommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Jul 4, 2015 - 7:08PM

    It could be a sales pitch to sell their junk to third world countries.Recommend

  • Yaldram
    Jul 4, 2015 - 7:22PM

    Mrs juicy..

    Are u kidding me jf 17 better than f16 n euro fighter???? Pakistan is still using F16 in air strikes done in waziristan area.. u need to do your homework.. jf17 only advantage is home produced n can b manufactured in bulk.. else it is crap ven compared to f16 n euro fighter. Recommend

  • Osama Qureshi
    Jul 4, 2015 - 8:16PM

    The F-35 was built as a multirole capable stealth fighter while the F-16 is a multirole fighter which has no stealth characteristic properties as compared to the F-35. In the modern world, BVR missiles win you fights you can stay undetected and fire a missile from like 100 Km away, you’ll die before you even track them down. So comparing F-16 to F-35 in a dog fight is somewhat foolish. Recommend

  • Mrs Juicy Gossips
    Jul 4, 2015 - 9:21PM

    @Yaldram:
    Can you kindly translate your diatribe on one of the greatest fighters ever built into something having a modicum of coherence ?Recommend

  • cautious
    Jul 4, 2015 - 9:36PM

    War games are common place in the USA and occasionally you get unusual outcomes. I recall reading an article when combat helicopters defeated F-16’s during one exercise.Recommend

  • Rex Minor
    Jul 4, 2015 - 9:49PM

    Why subject the F35 to a dog fight test if it has so many unresolved bugs? The USA air force should stick to their drones and leave the piloted air crafts to the Russians who on a daily basis are confronnting and challenging NATO air contingent. The stealths would definitely get hurt if deployed.

    Rex Minor Recommend

  • Samar Javed
    Jul 5, 2015 - 4:15AM

    @Ch. Allah Daad:
    common man, USA is not in hangover-nawaz-steel millis-selling-paranoid Recommend

  • Al
    Jul 5, 2015 - 7:27AM

    This was a project that was supposed to be canceled. Only stupid politics kept it alive. And note it’s not even good.
    sure give it to the killers in Israel for free. Not sure when will we stop. Supporting this evil nation.Recommend

  • Usman
    Jul 5, 2015 - 8:04AM

    @Mrs Juicy Gossips:
    plz stop embarrassing us, JF-17 is competitive with the F-16 and is out classed by the EurofighterRecommend

  • Usman
    Jul 5, 2015 - 8:11AM

    this is not very surprising as F35 is supposed to fire missiles from 100km, in close combat, it does not have any big advantage over any other aircraft. F22 however haas the advantage of very high maneuverability but a skilled pilot in a capable aircraft like the Eurofighter can indeed exploit F22’s shortcoming (it looses energy quickly in turning) IMO both F22 and F35 have a long way before they can be deployed, they have numerous shortcomings like being so expensive and not being able to fly in any weather. The scene may change in a decade or so.Recommend

  • Mrs Juicy Gossips
    Jul 5, 2015 - 8:51AM

    @Usman:
    Apparently you are unaware that PAF f-16 outclassed an RAF Typhoon (Euro fighter) at a NATO air combat exercise a few years back. So if jf-17 is competitive with the f-16, that makes it equally competitive against the Euro fighter in the right hands. QED.Recommend

  • Mad Mike
    Jul 5, 2015 - 7:23PM

    If you look at the past, the F14 was not a good dogfighter either. The Phoenix missile system was what made the plane what it was, an interceptor. I would say that this is what the F35 was designed to do, a long ranged interceptor. Recommend

  • shahid
    Jul 21, 2015 - 7:07AM

    @Usman:
    There is no aircraft made till today that is perfect and can never ever be beaten. Having said that, The F-22 is unmatched by anything that flies today. It is designed to replace and supplement the F-15 Eagle, and aircraft that has a record of 104 to 0 kills, that’s exceptional itself for an aircraft. F-22 is an air superiority fighter and it’s better than anything out there yet and would probably defeat another aircraft, all things equal.
    F-35 is a multi-role fighter which isn’t the best at dogfights, but can do multi-role operations better altogether than other multi-role fighters. And the stealthy part is supposed to mean that the aircraft would never engage with any other fighter to enter an dogfight. It’ll blow away anything before the enemy is even able to locate the F-35.
    And just to be clear, This exercise had the F-35 stripped of it’s most important features. That’s a critical piece of information kindly excluded. F-35 is actually a great plane but it’s gotten too much of bad publicity to be liked by american people, mainly just because the program is really really expensive. Recommend

  • shahid
    Jul 21, 2015 - 7:27AM

    @Mrs Juicy Gossips:
    Which F-16 are we talking about again? F-16A/B block 1 or 10? If so that’s that’s 1970s technology already so good job if JF-17 is competitive with that. Truth is the JF-17 is nothing close to the F-16C/D and above. every man marketing the aircraft has said repeatedly it’s a “cost effective” aircraft. You don’t sell premium products emphasizing low cost to mostly third world countries. Pakistani promoters know the capability of the JF-17 hence they are not selling in competition with the F-16 Viper. The advantage of JF-17 is that it’s low cost but decent enough and can be produced in bulk, according to Pakistani military people themselves.
    JF-17 Thunder is not a bad airplane itself but it’s unfair to compare it to F-16s or other aircrafts out of it’s category. Recommend

  • Usman
    Jul 22, 2015 - 6:00PM

    @shahid:
    I was trying to say the same thing, the F22 still needs lots of improvement to be battle ready and all weather fighter jet, though on one on one combat, F22 can indeed outclass any other fighter even in 1 vs 4 disadvantage. What nobody understood was that such games are meant to show the skills of a fighter plane, and over 40 games are held before final verdict is given. Europeans have been making bold claims against F22 and F35 simply because they are american jets and europeans need to promote the eurofighter or the Raphael.
    This is no big news, the scene would be alot different in war, F35 would have fired one missile 80 km away and went home leaving the F16 to deal with itRecommend

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