VIDEO: F-35 test pilot defends JSF’s dogfighting capability

Lockheed Martin F-35 chief test pilot Jon Beesley, standing today beneath the wing of the first prototype F-35, explains the fighter’s air-to-air capability relative to the F-16. (Note: Beesley is standing under the wing of AA-1, the first Joint Strike Fighter prototype, at Lockheed’s plant in Fort Worth, Texas.)


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17 Responses to VIDEO: F-35 test pilot defends JSF’s dogfighting capability

  1. Dave 21 May, 2009 at 11:48 pm #

    Nice. Are you going to post more clips from the interview?

  2. bonkers 22 May, 2009 at 3:45 am #

    What a great video… is there anymore from this test pilot???? It would be interesting to hear more than two minutes

  3. alloycowboy 22 May, 2009 at 4:45 am #

    Most of us all ready figure out at equivilant fuel loads the F-35 would have a thrust to weight ratio over the F-16 and F-18. What every one is curious about is it turn rate and turn radius. Will it at least be on par with the F-16? Obviously it will fight well in the vertical plane with its superior thrust to weight ratio. But what about the horizonal plane. Will F-35 pilots always be forced to fight ACM in the vertical?

  4. SMSgt Mac 22 May, 2009 at 7:13 am #

    What Jon Beesley is talking about has just as much to do with turning ability as ability to accellerate and climb vertically. A high ‘Sustained Turn Rate’ needs a high thrust to drag ratio to keep the V (smash) high throughout a turn.
    If you have a lot of drag (like external stores) you will burn off a lot more smash when changing vectors with the same thrust as you would with a clean airplane.

    Exaggerated Example: A ’9g’ airplane may have no material turning advantage overall compared to an 8g airplane if that 9g plane is so draggy it burns off smash too fast in the process. The draggy 9g plane could find itself hanging on a wing with no smash after only a 180 degree heading change while the clean 8g airplane could be so clean it could pull 8gs all day without loosing any smash.

  5. ELP 22 May, 2009 at 9:52 am #

    How’s that flight testing going? Still at 2 percent or so. Big claims. And the stress testing and post fix-it work from that isn’t done yet.

  6. Christopher Dye 22 May, 2009 at 12:47 pm #

    I get it that among fighters with similar power/weight ratios, clean ones, with internal weapons and fuel, do better than ones with external weapons and/or fuel. My question is, why not design “clean” fighters without the stealth features that greatly increase cost? Put another way, would “clean” features alone provide an advantage over “dirty” adversaries which would be sufficient without stealth? Boeing are trying this with their latest Silent F-15. Why hasn’t this been done sooner?

    Actually, it has been done before, almost, with the F8U, later F-8, Crusader. I do not recall ever seeing a picture of the Crusader with external fuel tanks, altho it carried its Sidewinders externally on the sides of its fuselage, and also carried bombs and perhaps other weapons under wing. I can’t think of any other non-stealth fighter that carried all its fuel internally.

  7. Royce 22 May, 2009 at 12:49 pm #

    Regarding the pilot’s point about the effect of external stores on drag and the advantage of internal carriage, why didn’t earlier multirole fighters use weapons bays to enable fighting in a clean configuration?

  8. Christopher Dye 22 May, 2009 at 1:01 pm #

    Actually, it looks like the Su 27 and 30 carry all their fuel internally with lots of weapons under wing.

  9. Seen 22 May, 2009 at 2:40 pm #

    Here’s a silly question though: once combat ensues and the F-35 needs to fire a missile, doesn’t it have to open the internal bays, hence neutralizing all of the maneuverability advantages gained by having the bay in the time when the aircraft most needs maneuverability?

  10. Dave 22 May, 2009 at 8:21 pm #

    Seen- The bays only open for a couple of seconds when the F-35 needs to shoot…

  11. SMSgt Mac 22 May, 2009 at 10:00 pm #

    RE: Drag and Open Doors.
    1. Doors do not stay open very long. Don’t blink too slowly or you’ll miss them in action.
    2. Drag is induced while doors are open even a crack, goes away when closed again versus being there ALL the time when hanging on the wing, Unless you can jettison the launch gear post-launch, you still have pylons and launchers hanging in the wind making drag – perhaps more drag than when they were loaded.
    3. Ideally, the weapons are launched prior to getting into a turning engagement (almost certainly an even lower drag open door event) . Close-in systems like ASRAAM and AIM-9X do not have to be pointed anywhere near the target to engage.

    If you get into a turning fight, you’ve probably already screwed up. ‘Turning fight’ considerations are second priority to the fight you are designed to fight: the one where you kill the other guy before he can do anything about it, preferrably before he even knows you’re there.

  12. RSF 23 May, 2009 at 10:23 pm #

    While I’m sure that the F-35 has great acceleration due to it’s clean stealth design and 40,000 lbs of thrust, we have yet to see a fully mission capable airplane in action (we are all still waiting)!

    Moreover, when the F-35 achieves full production both the Russians and Chinese will be producing 4.5 generation fighters that can carry more ordnance, have AESA radar (can detect the F-35), and are equipped with thrust vectoring technology.

    Perhaps the F-35 will develop an air to air reputation similar to the Raptor and turn out to be a fearsome dog fighter.

    With the cancellation of the Raptor lets all hope so!

  13. Anon 24 May, 2009 at 2:23 pm #

    Regarding WVR fights, does the F-35 carry the AIM-9 externally? I was looking at one of the graphics floating around the web and it seemed like the AIM-9 isn’t going to be loaded inside the bay. How big of an effect will that have on stealth?

  14. BDF 27 May, 2009 at 4:37 pm #

    The jet was designed to have “F-16/F-18 like performance” and the most recent F-35 PEO briefs even use this point as a bullet point in the most recent PPTs. If you look at T:W ratio as a function of range, its very similar to a similarly loaded block 50 viper. Yes the F-35 is clean but it also has a larger frontal area. Wing loading vs. range too is quite similar and recent reporting from AvWeek indicates that jet fits right into the KPPs for the JSF program as advertised. The real juicy and relevant information – which of course is rightfully classified – is the data contained in the VG diagrams. Given the known T:W, wing loading etc. and what AvWeek is reporting I doubt there is much of a difference between the F-35 and the F-16/F-18 series.

    To me the argument isn’t so much that the F-35 “is a dog” compared to the jets its replacing; it’s clearly not going to be. The argument or rather the question is ‘is this the kind of performance that is required for 21st century A-A combat?’ This is the essential question because the current trend is towards high and fast BVR (i.e. supersonic maneuverability) and while the F-35’s LO gives it an edge in the BVR arena currently, there is question that future sensors my erode this initial advantage and or tactics may increase risk for our aircrews.

    For instance using submarine like tactics like a counter shot down the bearing line of the missile datum may place considerable risk on the shooter even though they had the initial advantage of being undetected up to launch time. This of course comes full circle because we are essentially betting the farm on this one platform for our TacAir needs and there are serious questions over OSD’s rationale for the budgeting decisions they have made.

    One recent revelation that has come out of the recent congressional hearings on the DOD budget is that it appears that the USAF will plan on using the 325th for combat operations which indicates, yet again, that the current buy as stipulated by OSD is insufficient for fleet sustainment. Watts stated in the past that they’d need at least 2 wings minimum for ops in a PacRim scenario which translates to 150+ jets. To do that we’d have to essentially commit our entire F-22 fleet for that including training and the miniscule attrition reserves.

  15. Madison Clem 30 June, 2010 at 3:25 pm #

    Pierre Lalumiere

  16. Dog Aggression 23 July, 2010 at 11:02 am #

    Excellent job.

  17. Sheila Beltran 24 July, 2010 at 6:37 pm #

    Electronics are the greatest things in the world. Be sure to patent any product idea or invention you come up with. So that noone copies any of your ideas.

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