May 18, 2014
Britain may scrap F-35 stealth fighter because of poor perfomance
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter being built for British and US forces is based on outdated ideas of air warfare, it is claimed. The aircraft could be unable to evade enemy radar and be too expensive for long campaigns.
The critique in the US Air Force’s own journal concludes that the new fighter may even have “substantially less performance” than some existing aircraft.
Britain is preparing to buy at least 48 of the Lockheed Martin aircraft to replace its scrapped Harrier jump jets; the US military is expected to order more than 2,400.
The analysis in the Air and Space Power Journal states: “Even if funding were unlimited, reasons might still exist for terminating the F-35.
“Specifically, its performance has not met initial requirements, its payload is low, its range is short, and espionage efforts by the People’s Republic of China may have compromised the aircraft long in advance of its introduction.”
Advances in Russian and Chinese radar defences mean it is not clear the stealth technology will still work, the analysis warns.
“These facts make the risk calculation involved with prioritizing stealth over performance, range, and weapons load out inherently suspect - and the F-35 might well be the first modern fighter to have substantially less performance than its predecessors.”
Britain originally said it would buy 138 of the fighters, but has now committed itself to only 48 of the jump jet variant, spread between the RAF and Navy. The first are due to enter service in 2018.
F-35’s performance has been the subject of widespread debate in military aviation circles.