The F-35 struts its stuff in the Mach Loop

I’ve long been on record as saying that the F-35 Lightning II is a boondoggle, an overpriced, underperforming liability for the US armed forces.  Nevertheless, the first F-35A’s deployed to Europe have put on a good display at the Mach Loop in Wales, delighting local aircraft spotters.

I still hope the entire program is canceled, sooner rather than later.  Even so, I’m forced to admit that was a pretty agile display for so heavy an aircraft.



  1. I wish it was canceled too. And while i'm wishing for the impossible, I'd like a pony. To many palms have been greased, too many officers have retired to cushy jobs with contractors, too many jobs are riding on this in the right congressional districts.

  2. Like the Osprey. They'll keep plugging away at the program because it's come to far to admit the mistake.

  3. To be fair, the Osprey has been reformed and is very effective. The serious problems with the early versions have been worked out and redesigned.

  4. That video seems to be a loop of the pretty much the same "maneuver", repeated again and again.

    The F35 program won't be "revisited"(i.e, held up to a dim light) until a dozen or two of them either F104 themselves into the ground,or get extensively perforated by some old MIG 29's.

  5. There was a point at which I was fairly-strongly convinced that the F-35 program should, indeed, be dumped – or, at the least, the two clearly-less-workable segments (the Navy Carrier-Landing/Takeoff version, and the near-ludicrously-underadequate-armed and woefully-shortranged "Conventional" version) should be greatly-reduced in scope, with funding then being given over to a revival/expansion of the F-22 production program. I think now, though, that would be a mistake – matters have now progressed well beyond the point where there is any sort of viable alternative to continuation of the F-35 to its full program completion. The reason why is simple: There is no viable path now possible to a useful alternative.

    On the perhaps-plus side is the rather-apparent fact that the F-35 is the end of the line for U.S. manned fixed-wing fighter aircraft, as all current lines of future fighter/fighter-bomber air vehicles are either rotary-wing or some variant on the sort of specialized "support" attack craft that the A-10 has filled, and that the F-35 is expected to now fill in some version, or they are going to be unmanned vehicles of one sort or another.

    The F-35 can mostly do the range of jobs it was dreamed-up to fulfill – primarily due to the development of its P&W powerplant, which is, pound-for-pound, the most powerful turbojet aircraft engine in the world. That engine is so strong, with a moderate armaments load – all or nearly-all in the internal weapons bays – the "conventional" and the carrier-based versions can "supercruise"; i.e., can go supersonic in level flight without using afterburner, which is a HUGE fuel-conserver (and thus a range- and flight duration-extender), and the "conventional" version can actually go into a vertical-climb and accelerate – straight up!. Even the STOVL version (the heaviest one – and also the one you see in action on the Mach Loop) can supercruise if the armaments load-out is light – the powerplant is just that strong.

    It will never be all that it might once have been – if not for the basic butt-headedness of trying to make it "all things to/for all services" – but it's still a pretty hot package, and quite an impressive accomplishment, overall. It's now goe much, much too far to try to drop out of now, though.

  6. Agree Annon, it has gone too far to be cancelled totally and it's biggest problem is the variety of things it is expected to do and the different versions trying to be all things to all services. Guess they never heard of the F-111.

  7. Nice. I happened to spot the HL tail marking which means they are from the base I work on. I've seen them out flying around the flagpole, this is the first time I have seen them at speed. Thanks!

  8. The F-35 is one of the most capable fighters in existence. It is utterly incapable of dogfighting – and properly so since dogfights are a quaint holdover from the past. Nobody will live long enough to get into one against an F-35, and if they do they will not live to regret it.


    What everybody seems to miss is that the F-35 is designed to engage off-axis: it does NOT have to be lined up with you to shoot you. Add that to its stealth capability and active ECM suite and you get what just happened at RED FLAG in Nevada: F-35s emptied their weapons bays without ever being seen by their victims, then were pressed into service as impromtu EW platforms, detecting the enemy before their older generation wingmen could.

    As far close air support goes, that is another anachronism: the Stukas and A-20s are not going to come in low to engage with cannon, rockets and dive-bombing. Those days are gone forever. A drone will find the target and a GPS-guided 250-lb bomb will be dropped from 30,000 feet OR another armed drone will be brought up to engage from 9,000 meters with Hellfire missiles.

    As far as cost goes, all the comparisons to date are ridiculous: three different versions of an aircraft for 3 different missions should be compared to the cost of three different aircraft – NOT one aircraft. By that more realistic standard, the F-35 is a bargain.

    I remember when the F-16 was called an inferior platform. I even remember people saying the F-4 was a failure because it was multi-mission, multi-service compromise.

    I'm glad somebody mentioned MiGs, because MiGs are vitally important: there would not have been enough planes in the world for US-made aircraft to shoot down since 1950 if not for MiGs.

  9. Here is an interesting article about the F35 disputing many negative claims about the aircraft even comparing the wide fuselage with other lifting body fuselages. Dogfighting? who really knows however I suspect that the Israelies would not buy a lemon! A major theme here is challenging Pierre Spey's credibility. Fairly long at 1 hour 40 min. These days I find myself not believing ANYTHING in the media until I look at all sides very thoroughly.

  10. Hmmm…

    …"the F-35 is a bargain."…

    I think I saw that title in the Fantasy section at the library, right next to:

    "How I found Caring, Softness, and Sentimentality in the Shower at Riker's Island"

    The combined talents of George Lucas/Jim Cameron/Ridley Scott could not concoct a screenplay to cause the audience to suspend disbelief on the bargain-worthiness of the F35. Better to get Verhoeven to do a dystopian epic – "F35 – Son of ED209".

    Technology changes rapidly. The F35 won't stay "invisible" for very long.

    Too much hype + far too much money + too little to show for it + a small base of very dedicated fanbois = not a good sign for the long term viability of this airframe…

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