U.S. Air Force’s most sophisticated stealth jet is beaten in dogfight by plane from 1970s

It’s the most expensive weapon in history but America’s F-35 stealth jet has been outperformed by a 40-year-old F-16 jet in a dogfight.

A mock air battle was held over the Pacific Ocean between the cutting-edge F-35 – meant to be the most sophisticated jet ever – and an F-16, which was designed in the 1970s.

But according to the test pilot, the F-35 is still too slow to hit an enemy plane or dodge gunfire. So far it has cost the US military more than $350 billion.

  • Drunk_by_Noon

    I’m not an F-35 defender by any means, but you are comparing a stealth multi-role attack aircraft (The F-35 is a bomber with air to air missiles for self-defense) against a straight up air-superiority fighter, that has no aerodynamic concessions to stealth.
    Yeah, like a total surprise!

    Now compare what the F-35 was designed to do (blow stuff up on the ground in areas that are heavily defended with modern Russian and Chinese air defense networks) and we will see how long the F-16 lasts.

    Newsflash; this just in!
    Minivans can carry a big screen TV home from the store while even the most expensive Ferrari cannot!

    • Valid points.

    • DD_Austin

      Besides the fact the F-35 is a bomber

      “fighting other aircraft within visual range.”
      Can’t shoot what you can’t see
      Too bad the fight didn’t happen at night, or in the rain or a snowfall or fog,
      or perhap the F35 was in the sun.

      I guess the f-16 sneaked up to the F35 on it’s tippy toes while the
      F35 pilot forgot to put it’s radar systems switch to the “on” position
      He also forgot that it carried missiles

      The deck was stacked

      Next dogfight contest

      The f-16 beats the Good year blimp in a Immelmann contest
      Experts slam blimp design for “unwieldy” dog fighting ability

      • Drunk_by_Noon

        That reminds me of the goodwill “training” exercise with the Indian Air Force about ten years ago.
        The rules they finally established were that the Americans could not use their radars, AWACS, or even AMRAAM missiles.
        By finally confining the rules to the Americans basically flying blind, with no support, and catching them by surprise, only then could the Indian Air Force gain the upper hand.

        The Indians still crow about it to this day about how their superior MiG-29s and Indian pilot quality bested those arrogant Americans.

        In the real world, with no artificial restrictions, everyone else dies when fighting the USAF or our Naval Aviation forces, but oh well.

        • DD_Austin

          Outside forces are not a threat
          Inside ones are

          And we’ve seen bureaucrats build the F-35 type before

    • BillyHW

      Plus, I thought the F-22 was supposed to be the most advanced air superiority fighter.

    • mauser 98

      then it should be called A-35

  • Xavier

    Dogfighting is a thing of the past; long range radar and speed rule. With that said, the F-35 is a piece of crap that is killing pilots.

    • mauser 98

      Dogfighting is a thing of the past was claimed at beginning of Vietnam war
      Vietnamese were not informed

      • Xavier

        That’s true, but everything changes. Meteor missiles that can engage an enemy out to 187+ miles will probably eliminate most close encounters.

        If they work, that is.

        • mauser 98

          ‘read Russian jets , missiles greatly improved. they are not sitting still.
          the Chinese copy

    • Ed Ellison

      One important factor for this very expensive aircraft: there is only one engine and engine failure means losing the aircraft.
      Not necessarily the case with twin engine designs.

      • mauser 98

        US Navy brass agreed to one engine F35
        yes over water/maritime duty should be 2 engines

    • Drunk_by_Noon

      They have been saying that for the last 60-years, and it never quite turns out that way. That’s why we started putting cannons on all of our fighters (again) since the late 1960’s.

  • Icebow

    I don’t like that Britain has ordered F-35s for our new carriers. We’d have done better to go down the F-18 route, the savings covering the cost of converting to steam catapult.

    • Drunk_by_Noon

      I don’t think your carriers are big enough to accommodate anything other that VTOL/STOL aircraft.
      I think that’s the primary reason the F-35 was made as a VTOL aircraft.

      • Icebow

        The whole point of such aircraft is that they are suited to small carriers, not that the carriers in question are small by any standard short of Nimitz class. The F-35 has more than one version, and at one point we were going for the non-VTOL version.

        • Drunk_by_Noon

          You are right in that the new Queen Elisabeth Class British carriers are big enough to accommodate some F-18s, but they seemed to have removed the catapult mechanism from them (budgetary reasons I read) and so they are STOL/VTOL only now.
          Odd that.

          • Icebow

            Sorry, I had misread your comment.
            They may come to regret abandoning the catapult plan, since the carriers are supposed to last for 50 years.

  • Hard Little Machine

    The F-35 won’t carry the SDB until 2020. Its own pilots say the A-10 is a better air support plane.

    And no the F-16 isn’t an air superiority plane. It’s a multirole plane designed and operated to do a wide array of missions. The F-15 on the other hand is an air superiority fighter.

    With any war plane the issue is how much does it cost per hour to keep it in the air and what does the maintenance duty cycle look like. No plane is worth much if it takes 10 hrs of ground service for every hour in the air and the F-35’s service requirements are very high. That is what ultimately killed state of the art systems like the SR-71. It simply took too much maintenance to make it useful anymore.

    BTW the F-35 has the worst rearward visibility of any US single seater. The high tech helmet is too large for the pilot to turn his head around and look.

    The sad fact is that the F-35 is the victim of having too long a development cycle. By the time it’s ‘fully functional’ the F-35 will be a 30 year old design.

    The F-35 won its flyoff competition against Boeing’s X-32 because, as the Air Force generals stated, the Boeing submission ‘looked weird and funny’. Even though it out performed the F-35 in nearly every measure.

    If anything it will be the death knell of using piloted aircraft as front line state of the art war planes for the US.