No, The F-35 Was Not Beaten by an F-16

U.K. Defence Journal // July 01, 2015

It has been widely reported in the media over the last week that an F-35 was outperformed by an F-16, the truth is seemingly a little different.

It should be noted that the specific F-35 involved was ‘AF-2′, this airframe is designed for flight testing, it’s designed to fly in certain restricted flight envelopes. It does not feature the majority of systems present in frontline aircraft. The aircraft, due to it being a test aircraft, had also not had the software installed that is required to use the sensors and mission systems that would be used in combat. Additionally, ‘AF-2′ does not feature the radar-absorbent material coating that operational aircraft have.

According to a recent press release from Lockheed Martin

“It [the F-35 in question] is not equipped with 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.”

Articles making the claim that the F-16 is superior cite tests performed earlier in the year to assess the flying qualities of the F-35 during within visual range combat and the F-16 involved was used as a visual reference to maneuver against. The aim of the test was to demonstrate the ability of the F-35 to fly to the edge of its restricted test limits without exceeding them. The test scenario was apparently successful as it allowed the aircraft be cleared for greater agility in future tests.

Read the full article from the U.K. Defence Journal.