Warplanes: F-35 Fights Back

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September23, 2008:  Recent media reports that the new U.S. F-35 was regularly defeated in computer simulated combats with the latest Russian fighters, prompted the U.S. Air Force to release a lot of its own data on F-35 effectiveness. Overall, the air force simulations and studies have shown the F-35 to be four times as effective against any current fighter (the best of them known as "fourth generation" aircraft.) The major advantages of the F-35 are engine power (it's one engine generates more power than the two engines used in the Eurofighter or F-18), stealth and the fact that it can fight "clean" (without any pods or missiles hung from its wings, and interfering with maximum maneuverability). While it's true that the F-35 would have problems in a dogfight with some aircraft (notably the Su-27/30 series), the F-35 was designed to spot the enemy first, get the first shot in, and stay out of range of an old-fashioned dog fight.

These BVR (Beyond Visual Range) tactics are untried in large scale combat, while dog fighting has been around since 1914. But everyone agrees that BVR (using superior sensors and long range missiles) tactics are the future. Not everyone agrees that the future is here yet.

The 27 ton F-35 is armed with an internal 25mm cannon and four internal air-to-air missiles (or two missiles and two smart bombs). Plus four external smart bombs and two missiles. All sensors are carried internally, and max weapon load is 6.8 tons. The first F-35s will be delivered in two years.

 


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