What is the F-35 Good For? Answer: Nothing. It’s Totally Useless.


The RealClearDefense website has published an interesting article on the Israeli Air Force – arguably the best in the world. It worries that the IAF, its pilots’ skills notwithstanding, may lose its technological edge, because the F-35 cannot defeat modern Russian fighters, especially those equipped with infrared search and tracking systems:

“If the F-35 cannot hold its own against fourth-generation fighters, which are increasingly equipped with infrared sensors that can detect stealth aircraft, it will be limited to ground-attack missions and require escorts to carry-out operations in contested airspace. The former head of the USAF’s Air Combat Command admitted last year that the F-35 was not built as an air-superiority fighter and needs the USAF’s existing stealth fighter, the F-22, to protect against enemy aircraft.

This shortfall represents a major problem for Israel, which cannot acquire the F-22. Congress banned its export and production ended in 2011. Israel will therefore have to continue to rely on its existing fourth-generation fighters to retain competitive air-to-air capability – which undermines a core reason Israel invested in the F-35.”

It’s clear that the truth of the F-35’s inability to beat modern air superiority fighters is finally being recognized by important media outlets. However, this truth poses a deadly question for the F-35: what is it good for? What is it useful for?

As has been stated, it cannot beat modern competitor fighters and would need F-22 to escort it. So it’s completely unfit for air superiority missions (Pentagon and LM spin notwithstanding).

But it’s completely unfit for counterinsurgency missions. It is too expensive, too overbuilt, and the CTOL variant needs very long runways, limiting possible choices of deployment sites.

So the F-35 is completely unsuited for both high-end and low-end warfare. Not capable of defeating advanced fighters and air defense systems, too expensive and overbuilt for counterinsurgency warfare.

The idea of having it escorted by F-22 is ridiculously stupid. The F-22 will already be busy enough. Any weapon system requiring protective escorts will be a huge liability rather than an asset.

Memo to the Pentagon: Kill. The. F-35. Program. Now.

Not next year. Now.

5 thoughts on “What is the F-35 Good For? Answer: Nothing. It’s Totally Useless.”

  1. Years ago, when I first heard of the concept of a JOINT fighter, I knew immediately that it would be wildly compromised and inferior in performance to all of its competitors. ALL airplanes are compromises among competing considerations — and the more missions you give an aircraft and the more end users you expect it to satisfy, the worse it will be at any one of them.

    Imagine if a car company tried to build a “joint automobile”, something expected to satisfy the high-mileage economy car market, the ful-bodied pick-up truck market, the small pick-up truck market, the large SUV market, the sports car market, the four-wheel drive market, the luxury sedan market, etc. What would you wind up with? A grotesque Frankenstein of an automobile that would satisfy NO ONE — and the car company that tried this would rapidly go bankrupt.

    Mr. Mazurak is right: The joint strike fighter is a useless and foolish expenditure of our funds that will only guarantee that our air force is markedly inferior to our adversaries. Kill now, and re-open the F-22 production line while we still can.

  2. Reblogged this on Defense Issues and commented:
    Note: F-35 might be capable of SEAD/DEAD operations, but even there its low sortie rate / high maintenance downtime and limited payload / endurance will limit its effectiveness.

  3. F-35 is a troubled aircraft. But it is no where near as troubled as most people think. It is not good at maneuverability, but it’s high off bore sight missiles will compensate for that. The flankers have infrared sensors, but so does F-35. In fact, unlike flankers, F-35 has infrared sensors at 6 different positions on the fuselage, giving the pilot spherical view. Flanker’s infrared sensor on the other hand, can only look forward. In addition, F-35 has the electro optical targeting system (ETOS), something that, as far as I know, the flankers and other jets don’t have. A 4th generation jet’s radar will be useless against F-35’s stealth features. F-35 pilot might have to turn on his radar only for a short moment, enough to know the rough position of enemy aircraft, but not enough for the enemy aircraft to find out the position of F-35. Then F-35’s infrared sensors and ETOS can be used to passively track and target the enemy jet. F-35’s infrared search and track system is widely believed to be superior to that of flankers. So it’s not crazy to imagine that an F-35 will detect and target a flanker or any other 4th gen jet before it is itself detected. And 9 out of 10 times, the aircraft that shoots first, is the victor.

    All this said, it’s true that F-35 was not designed to be an air superiority fighter. It was supposed to be a strike aircraft with a capability to defend itself against air to air threats without the need for escorts. The reason why its being forced into air superiority role is because F-22, which WAS designed to be an air superiority fighter, is simply not present in large enough numbers to make a difference.

    1. These spherical-view sensors are not the same as Su-35s OLS, they are short-ranged wide-FoV IR sensors, with primary purpose being missile warning and secondary role of IRST, similar to Rafale’s DDM. EOTS corresponds to Su-35s OLS-35, being a primary passive IR sensor (IRST), though EOTS is optimized for ground attack – being merely an internal targeting pod – whereas OLS is optimized for air-to-air work.

      “And 9 out of 10 times, the aircraft that shoots first, is the victor.”

      Only if the missiles hit, which is far less likely than with guns.

  4. F-35 is a troubled jet. But it is nowhere near as troubled as most people think. It is not very maneuverable in dogfights. But it’s high off bore sight missiles will compensate for it. Many 4th gen jets now have infrared sensors, but so does F-35. In fact, F-35 has 6 different infrared sensors oat different points on the fuselage, giving it’s pilot all round spherical view, while infrared sensors of other 4th gen jets can only look forward. F-35’s infrared search and track system is widely believed to be superior to all others. And F-35 also has ETOS (electro optical targeting system) Something that other jets don’t have. A 4th gen jet’s radar will be useless against F-35’s stealth features. The F-35 on the other hand, will see the enemy jet clearly on radar. F-35 pilot may only have to turn on the radar for a tiny moment, enough to see the enemy jet, but not enough to let the enemy jet locate target it. Then the enemy jet can be passively tracked and targeted by F-35’s infrared search and track and ETOS. All this makes it very likely that F-35 will see and shoot first. And 9 out of 10 times, the aircraft that sees and shoots first, is the victor.

    All this said, its true that F-35 was not designed to be an air superiority fighter. It was designed as a strike aircraft with a capability to defend itself against air to air threats without needing escorts. The reason why it is being forced into air superiority role is that F-22, which WAS designed as an air superiority fighter, is simply not present in large enough numbers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s