Australia Heaps Praise on F-35, Says Rivals Years Behind

Reuters // May 16, 2013

Lockheed Martin Corp is well on the way to fixing the F-35s performance and helmet problems, Australian military chiefs said on Thursday, rejecting criticism the troubled jet will be overmatched by newer Russian and Chinese aircraft.

In testimony to parliament on the F-35, for which Australia is one of the largest international buyers with plans for up to 100, Australia's air force chief Air Marshal Geoff Brown said rivals were years behind the Lightning II's development.

Critics of the F-35 have predicted the aircraft, for which many performance data are classified, will be outflown by emerging aircraft like Russia's Sukhoi T-50 PAK FA and China's J-20, as well as existing fighters like the Su-35, citing computer modelling of known abilities.

"Let me tell you, I don't think that they have the level of stealth that's available in U.S. fifth generation aircraft, and it's by a significant factor," Air Marshal Brown told lawmakers.

"Both PAK FA, J-20 and J-31 are possibly where we were in excess of 10-12 years ago in their development time frames, so all those aeroplanes have still got a long, long way to go," Brown said.

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