What’s it like to dogfight in an F-35?

Last year the news came out that the F-35 was beaten in a dogfight by the F-16. The story was just the latest in a series of worrying reports about just how effective an F-35 Lightning II will be in combat.

Yesterday, an article appeared in The Aviationist written by a Norwegian pilot experienced in both the F-16 and the F-35 describing how the Lightning II offers him far more advantages than the F-16 in combat.

You can read it by clicking here.

I would be fascinated to hear your thoughts afterwards by commenting below.

NEWS: F-35 finally coming to UK skies

F-35 Lightning II 1

After embarrassingly missing out on its planned debut in UK skies at the naming ceremony of the carrier that will house it, the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II will finally be coming to Britain in 2016. The aircraft was forced to miss out on the ceremony in 2014 due to restrictions placed on the type following an F-35A suffering an engine fire in-flight.

As many as five aircraft including a British example of the F-35B V/STOL variant will be demonstrated at the Royal International Air Tattoo and the Farnborough International Airshow this summer. Two aircraft will be from the US Air Force while another two will come from the United States Marine Corps.

Defence secretary Michael Fallon told FlightGlobal

The plan for F-35 aircraft to take part in air shows here in the UK this summer is a significant milestone – for our Royal Air Force and Royal Navy personnel training hard to fly the F-35; for British industry who are contributing an impressive 15% of every aircraft; and for the British public who will have their first opportunity to see this remarkable aircraft in action.

NEWS: £300m contract for new ASRAAM variant

ASRAAM F-35

MBDA (UK) Ltd has been awarded a £300m contract to develop the next variant of their AIM-132 Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM) missile used by RAF Typhoon and Tornado fast-jets as well as arming the F-35B Lightning II when it enters service with the RAF and Royal Navy. As well as improving performance with the replacement of older sub-systems the new variant will make it easier to upgrade the weapon as and when is necessary speeding up the ability to meet new threats.

Defence secretary Michael Fallon emphasized that the eight-year contract will directly sustain around 200 highly skilled technology jobs across MBDA sites in Bristol, Stevenage, Hertfordshire and Lostock, Lancashire with around another 200 supported in wider industry. This was no doubt an effort to appease recent criticism of the Conservative Party’s pre-election pledge to award more defence contracts to UK based companies following the revelation that 40% of the work for the Army’s new Scout IFV will go to American companies.

The ASRAAM replaced the venerable AIM-9L Sidewinder in the RAF as the main close-in dogfight missile entering service in 1998. The missile is capable of being targeted on to an enemy aircraft with a sight mounted on the pilot’s helmet and with its off-boresight performance it means that rather than turning to get on to an enemy plane’s tail all the pilot has to do is look at the target and press FIRE. Guidance is by an infra-red seeker and the missile has a head-on range of nearly 15 miles.

GALLERY: HMS Queen Elizabeth Shaping Up

After being officially named on July 4th 2014 her hull finally touched water on July 17th 2014. Since then work has progressed on completing the 60,000 ton carrier that the Royal Navy has staked its future on. Fitting out will take until at least the end of 2015 after which the crew will move aboard in May 2016. Once stationary training has been completed the ship will begin a series of sea trials in August 2016 in order to achieve its current delivery date of May 2017. Flight trials with helicopters should then begin in 2017 but the F-35B trials wont begin until the end of 2018.

F-35B Lightning II’s RIAT Debut Stalls

Never in the field of military flying has one plane been dogged by so many setbacks. For the UK this month was supposed to be a landmark in military flying with first the official naming of the carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth and then the Royal International Air Tattoo debut of the plane that’s supposed to be flying off it – the F-35B Lightning II.

Alas, unless a miracle can be pulled off the F-35B (which was supposed to have performed a fly-by over the naming ceremony of the carrier) will not be flying. The entire fleet of nearly 100 F-35s of all marks have been grounded following an engine fire on a USAF F-35A. The US Defense Department will not free the aircraft to fly again until a thorough inspection of the F-35’s F135 engine which caught fire during a test in June.