General: Older Fighters Can’t Match F-35

DoD Buzz // January 05, 2017

Older fighter jets such as the F-16 and F/A-18 will never match the F-35, an Air Force general said.

Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus, a former F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot who directs the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program’s integration office, said even upgraded versions of the fourth-generation fighters simply can’t compete against the newer aircraft’s stealth superiority.

“You cannot take an airplane like an F-16 and really make it stealthy,” Pleus said in an interview with on Wednesday at the Pentagon. “The airplane is the shape of the airplane, the size is the size of the airplane,” he said.

“The radar cross-section of an F-18 is the radar cross-section of an F-18 — you can’t change that,” he added. “Low observable technology, the ability to evade radar if you will, is something that has to be designed into the airplane from the very beginning.”

Pleus’ comments came just weeks after President-elect Donald Trump took to Twitter to criticize the F-35 program — the Pentagon’s biggest acquisition program estimated at nearly $400 billion for almost 2,500 aircraft.

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