April 29, 2018

F-35 inferior to 5th & even 4++ Generation Air Superiority Fighters

See a superb article by Abraham Ait at The Diplomat paysite about the inferiority of the F-35, titled "Why the F-35 Isn’t Good Enough for Japan" which argues in part:

"..While the F-35 retains some radar evading capabilities, its radar cross section is over ten times greater than that of the F-22 making it far less survivable — leading some analysts to term it a “pseudo stealthy” fighter. The F-35 has less than half the range of the larger F-22 and lacks the Raptor’s advanced long ranged air-to-air missiles, which for [Japan] an archipelago nation separated from its potential adversaries by vast seas are major shortcomings. 

As a single engine light platform with a small arsenal of just four air-to-air missiles, restricted to a below average speed of Mach 1.6 and a very low altitude relative to the Raptor, the F-15J, and elite twin engine Chinese fighters, the F-35 hardly presents an adequate solution to counter China’s growing fleet of J-11 fighters — let alone more advanced platforms more recently deployed by Beijing such as the Su-35 or J-20. Indeed, it [the F-35] was never designed for such an air superiority role.

...With Tokyo unable to acquire the F-22 and with none of its allies producing a fighter capable of replacing its aging F-15 fleet, Japan sought to develop a fighter indigenously to fulfill an advanced air superiority role and match China’s latest heavy fighters such as the J-11D and J-20. The program, at prototype stages known as the Mitsubishi Shinshin X2, saw the first flight of its technology demonstrator in April 2016..."

"Abraham Ait is a military analyst and founder of Military Watch Magazine."

See the WHOLE EXCELLENT THE DIPLOMAT ARTICLE a Paysite well worth subscribing to.


Anonymous said...

I would not be that sanguine on the F-35. It still have a very low RCS, sure an order of magnitude worse than the F-22, but it is still more than several orders of magnitude better than an SU-35 (which is several times better than an SU-30 or J-11/J-15). The F-35 with its clipped penguin wings is not going to be a dogfighter, it takes forever to get to M1.6, although accelerating to and beyond M1.0 (transonic) is better than the F/A-18.

An F-35 with the Meteor AAM is a workable air supremacy fighter as it can detect the SU-35, SU-30/J-1x way before these fighters can detect it (even with 20kw Irbis-E radar or by using IRST). However, integration with the Meteor for UK is in 2024.

The AIM-120D has a shorter no escape zone (relative to the Meteor), so by the time you can launch the 120D, an IRST or an Irbis can also detect the F-35. The slow F-35 is not going to be able to break away and it appears this is a lesson from WW2 that needs to be re-learned.

In response to a Japanese RFI, Lockheed is proposing this hybrid F-22/F-35 but it is unclear if Japan has that kind of budget. May be this project can be funded by Japan, India, Australia and the US together as an Indo-Pacific project. I do not know where is the US with sharing sensitive steath designs. Regardless, such fighter will not be operational for at least 15 years, and that may be too late too little.

In my view, the strategic challenge for Japan cannot be solved by F-35 or F-22 or any weapon systems. Japan desperately needs Japanese women to give birth to more babies. Between 90-120 minutes commute each day, long working hours, by the time anybody gets home, it is late or very late at night, so I do not see this low birth rate problem being solved unless there is a drastic lifestyle change in Japanese society. Otherwise the country needs to change its immigration policies to bring in immigrants that can be fully integrated into Japanese culture. You are not going to win a war with senior citizens.

Anonymous said...

"An F-35 with the Meteor AAM is a workable air supremacy fighter as it can detect the
SU-35, SU-30/J-1x way before these fighters can detect it (even with 20kw Irbis-E
radar or by using IRST). However, integration with the Meteor for UK is in 2024."

The U.S. is also quietly working on a longer-ranged AAM, but that won't be ready any
time soon either:


At least if the F-22/35 hybrid goes forward, the U.S. might be able to snag a few,
since we didn't produce enough F-22s in the first place:


Because the F-22 was terminated too early so that the USAF could have its new bomber:


Ztev Konrad said...

I think the range of the F22 is mis-stated.

" The aircraft’s maximum range is slightly superior to that of the F-16 but significantly inferior to that of the F-15C, which it was designed to replace" [The ref refers to subsonic cruise conditions]
The F35 is supposed to replace F16

page 64. In a comprehensive report for the USAF Airpower and Space Journal, a publication of the Air University
"The F-22 Acquisition Program" by Lt Col Niemi

Ztev Konrad said...

opps. My link to Air University report should be

Peter Coates said...

Thanks KQN, Ztev and Anonymous for your comments.

I agree the F-35's sensors and probably AA missiles give it advanges over current Russian-Chinese 4th generation fighters.

Its also true that the F-35's range is not much less than the F-22s.

A F-22/35 hybrid Project may be hugely expensive and if it becomes an international venture (certainly US but also Japan, Australia? and India?) is may take 15 years or even collapse.

I'm now focussing on an F-35 weakness not yet covered at "F-35s Need to Use UnStealthy Afterburners to Stay Supersonic" of May 2, 2018, at http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2018/05/f-35s-need-to-use-unstealthy.html



Anonymous said...

In my view a viable solution for air supremacy and interdiction when the F-22 is not available is a networked fleet of F-35 plus Eurofighter armed with Meteor and the new Seles AESA Captor E radar.
I would not go for a new hybrid F-22/F-35 since that solution is so far out to be likely irrelevant.