Fighting with One Wing Tied Behind Your Back

Fit to fight. (Shutterstock image)

Fit to fight.
(Shutterstock image)

The Pentagon and Lockheed-Martin responded quickly to this week’s report that the F-35 can’t outfight an F-16:

In an e-mail to reporters Wednesday morning, they said the report “did not tell the entire story” of the test dogfight between an F-35 and an F-16 this year because the F-35 was not equipped with many of the features that gives it an advantage. But they did not dispute the authenticity of the pilot’s remarks, and said they were investigating how the report, marked “For Official Use Only,” was leaked.

Pentagon officials said that the particular plane the test pilot flew did not have its special stealth coating, a Harry Potter-like “invisible cloak” that renders it invisible to radar. It was also lacking the sensors that allow “the F-35 to see its enemy long before it knows the F-35 is in the area,” the officials said.

Finally, it didn’t have “the weapons or software that allow the F-35 pilot to turn, aim a weapon with the helmet, and fire at an enemy without having to point the airplane at its target.”

Why would anyone bother testing the F-35 under such conditions?