Is the F-35 Fighter a Lemon?

A damning report from the progressive think-tank National Security Network claims the military’s Joint Strike Fighter (F-35 Lightning) cannot perform against Russian and Chinese aircraft ranked in a similar class.

The F-35 represents the most expensive defense system in United States history at $1.4 trillion. The aircraft was designed to perform in multiple roles for the Air Force, Marines and Navy, including use on aircraft carriers.

Perhaps because of all the multi-role design demands, the NSN report claims the F-35 is inferior to the Russian-made MiG-29 Fulcrum and Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker. Both aircraft play large roles in the Russian and Chinese air forces.

Su-27 Flanker

The F-35 — which has been in development for 14 years — is intended for reconnaissance, short runways, air-to-ground attack, defense and carrier duty. Critics say the antiquated A-10 Warthog remains superior to the F-35 in close ground attack/support.

“The F-35 will find itself outmaneuvered, outgunned, out of range, and visible to enemy sensors,” the report states. “Going forward, full investment in the F-35 would be to place a bad trillion-dollar bet on the future of air power based on flawed assumptions and an under-performing aircraft.”

The Marine Corps recently deemed their version of the aircraft — the F-35B — as ready for combat, however, the first Marine deployment is slated for 2017 in Japan.

“To perform against near-peer adversaries, the F-35 will have to be capable of executing a range of missions, from defeating enemy aircraft to penetrating enemy air defenses to strike surface targets,” the report claimed. “But the F-35 will struggle to effectively perform these missions due to shortcomings in its design and program requirements, despite costing between three and nine times more than the 4th -generation aircraft it is designed to replace.” recently published test results from an F-35 pilot who went head-to-head with a standard F-16…and lost. Badly.

“But the JSF’s advantage didn’t actually help in the end. The stealth fighter proved too sluggish to reliably defeat the F-16, even with the F-16 lugging extra fuel tanks. Even with the limited F-16 target configuration, the F-35A remained at a distinct energy disadvantage for every engagement,” the pilot reported. —