The F-35 stealth aircraft is widely regarded as the most advanced fighter jet in the world today, however, it has its own share of critics and supporters.
Some critics have claimed that the F-35 jet is overrated and is plagued with many issues, like problems incurred during supersonic flights and the angle of attack (AoA) envelope, making it a bad dogfighter.
Many would even argue about the viability of dogfighting in the battlefields of the 21st century due to the advent of highly capable beyond visual range (BVR) missiles.
However, dogfighting, is still considered to be an essential skill by aviators around the world, where situations might deteriorate quickly in various scenarios, like, interception or while encountering more number of enemy aircraft incoming.
One critique that was widely shared earlier read – “It has random oscillations, pitch and yaw issues above [its] 20-[degree angle of attack],” a longtime naval aviator told Defense News last year.
“[So] if I had to perform the aircraft — if I had to manoeuvre to defeat a missile, manoeuvre to fight another aircraft, the plane could have issues moving. And if I turn around aggressively and get away from these guys and use the afterburner, [the horizontal tail and tail boom] start to melt or have issues,” a pilot told DefenseNews.
One more problem which concerns the jet is the stealth requirement which prompts the plane to store weapons in its internal bay, which also severely restricts the internal fuel capacity – and thus the range.
Lockheed’s test pilot for the F-35 said that the aircraft is superior to any 4th generation jet in service anywhere in the world. “The F-35 is comparable or better in every one of those metrics, sometimes by a significant margin, in both air-to-air, and when we hog-up those fourth-generation fighters, for the air-to-ground mission,” he said.
Lynn’s claims are highly disputed, and in response to that, an interview was given to the Aviationist by a Eurofighter Typhoon pilot, who said: Angle-of-attack is remarkably high in the F-35, as it is for all the twin-tailed aircraft, but of course it can not be exploited in the supersonic regime, where the limiting load factor is achieved at low values of AoA.
Also in the subsonic sector, the angle-of-attack itself doesn’t mean that much, especially if past a modest 12° AoA you are literally going to fall off the sky! Excessive energy bleeding rates would operationally limit the F-35 well before its ultimate AoA is reached.
Eurofighter superb engine-airframe matching, in combination with its High Off-Bore-Sight armament supported by Helmet Cueing, has already and consistently proven winning against any agile fighter.
Last, the F-35 is capable of supersonic carriage of bombs in the bomb bay, but the fuel penalty becomes almost unaffordable, while delivery is limited to subsonic speeds by the armament itself as-is for the Typhoon.”
The F-35 is expectedly going to be purchased by approximately 15 countries, keeping the paychecks and order books for Lockheed Martin secured at least for the coming decade.