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US Air Force, Lockheed Aim to Prove F-35 Critics Wrong in Demo at Paris Air Show

Defense News // June 19, 2017

In its debut flight at the Paris Air Show, the U.S. Air Force and Lockheed Martin want to obliterate the idea that the F-35 can’t dogfight.

In part, because of an internal U.S. Air Force report that alleged the F-35 had difficulty outmaneuvering an F-16, the F-35 joint strike fighter has built a reputation that it isn’t effective within visual ranges. But on June 19 at the Paris Air Show, pilots said the upcoming flight demo this afternoon would dispel all notions that the jet can be handily beat by fourth generation fighters.

“I have seen those reports as well,” said Lt. Col. Scott “Cap” Gunn, an F-35 pilot at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. Gunn flew one of the two F-35As on site from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, to Le Bourget Airport, but the demonstrations this week will be flown by Lockheed test pilot Billie Flynn.

When Gunn began flying the F-35 five years ago, the aircraft’s flight envelope was heavily restricted, with only 3Gs permitted. Back then, flying against an F-15C was an even match, he said. Three months ago, Gunn flew against an F-16 within visual range, and the F-35’s performance had improved so much that the other pilot believed the aircraft had undergone special modifications.

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