US F-35 fighter jets, which have been tested recently, would be outmaneuvered and outgunned in dogfights with current Russian and Chinese jets, a new report reveals.
“The F-35 will find itself outmaneuvered, outgunned, out of range, and visible to enemy sensors,” said Bill French, a policy analyst with the National Security Network, a Washington think tank.
The network released a report Tuesday based on details leaked last month on a test flight where the F-35 was bested in most aerial maneuvering by an F-16, Stars and Stripes reported.
The report compared the power, maneuverability and maximum payloads of the F-35 against the Russian-made MiG-29 Fulcrum and the Su-27 Flanker, which is made by Russia and flown by China.
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is “grossly inferior in terms of wing loading [except for the Navy variant], transonic acceleration and thrust-to-weight,” the analyst wrote. “F-35, Thunder without Lightning.”
“These are the kinds of aircraft the F-35 would most likely face in air-to-air engagements against a high-end opponent,” he wrote.
According to the analyst, the F-35 fared little better against US older jets, the F-16, F-18 and AV-8B Harrier.
“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 in his report.
Last year, a Chinese top aircraft maker warned that its new stealth fighter has the ability to shoot down the F-35.
“When China’s J-31 stealth fighter takes to the sky, it can definitely take it (F-35) down…. That’s a certainty,” said Lin Zuoming, president of Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC).
The Marine Corps declared the F-35 operational after it passed a major milestone last month. The fighter is described as a flying computer and is lauded by the Pentagon as the future of combat aviation. Its development has taken 14 years and nearly $400 billion.