Written by Dabney B. on Monday, January 30th, 2012
The F-35 has many advantages that have made it the go-to aircraft. Its relatively low production costs and air-to-ground flexibility gives purchasers plenty of bang for their buck. Some researchers, however, are arguing that the F-35 will not be up to snuff when pitted against other next-generation aerial fighters, particularly those being engineered by the Russians and the Chinese.
Researchers have performed computerized war games, pitting the F-35 up against other aircraft that will be operational at some point within the F-35’s lifetime. The results are not very good, with some researchers going so far as to say that the F-35 got “clubbed” by the opposition.
The F-35 does focus a bit more on air-to-ground assault than it does on air-to-air superiority – it carries only 2 aerial superiority missiles internally on the A/G configuration, though it can carry more on the outer pylons. Still, the F-35 has several technological advances that make it reliable in dogfights. The problem that arises is that the F-35 is designed for multi-purpose, all-around versatility, so many fear that it might not be able to hold its own against other aerial-focused aircraft.
This had led to speculation as to whether or not a fourth F-35 variant might be necessary. It might be a worthwhile investment to design an F-35 model that would be more suited to aerial combat. This new model would need to be lighter, faster, and capable of carrying more missiles in order to counter the potential threat of Chinese and Russian super-fighters.
Despite the growing concern about the distant future of aerial combat, Lockheed Martin predictably stands by their aircraft and promises that it will be just as effective as other fighters in the sky, and that its cheap production costs will enable the U.S. and its allies to put so many F-35s in the sky that we can answer any threat.
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