2 V 2: A-7 Corsairs vs. F-106 Delta Darts

 

The first part of the title “2 V 2” is shorthand for an air-to-air engagement (air combat maneuvering) involving two aircraft against two other (presumably enemy) aircraft.  But a pilot or aviation enthusiast familiar with the iconic F‑106 Delta Dart might be puzzled by the rest of the title.  The Corsair II is a capable but unspectacular plow horse in comparison to the Delta Dart, one of the fastest fighter-interceptors ever built! Who in their right mind would conduct air-to-air training involving such grossly mismatched aircraft?

Fun facts: The supersonic F‑106 was introduced in 1956 to foil Soviet Strategic Bomber attacks. It could fly 1,500 mph. (Mach 2.3) and cruise supersonically for 500 miles! By the late ’80s, they were mostly flown by Air National Guard squadrons. They had air-to-air radar and missiles designed to knock down an inbound Soviet Bear bomber outside of visual range. Their main vulnerability was poor rearward visibility for the pilot, and a slower roll at low speed than the Corsair.

The A-7E Corsair II was introduced in 1967. It was a subsonic light bomber with better technology than its contemporaries including an inertial navigation system and weapons control computer plus a HUD (heads-up-display). Its specialty was accurate (in the right hands) urban removal and breaking things. The under-powered Corsair usually carried one Sidewinder missile for self-defense. Air-to-air “dogfighting” was its weakest capability. Even its M61 Vulcan six‑barrel Gatling gun was optimized for air-to-ground strafing rather than against aircraft. It did have slightly better rearward visibility than the F-106 due to the shape of the canopy. (This would become important later in the day…) So it was an exciting surprise when our squadron Operations officer found an Air National Guard (ANG) unit willing to train with us.

That morning we were scheduled for an hour of Air Combat Maneuvering (ACM) training (“dogfighting”) against two separate 2-plane sections of ANG F-106’s. I had a six-month carrier deployment under my belt and was flying wingman with my boss, the Admin department head, call sign “Turkey”. My radio call sign was “Turkey 2”.

We flew from our home base at Cecil Field Naval Air Station in Jacksonville Florida over to one of the Tyndall AF Base MOAs (Military Operating Area) located south of Panama City over the Gulf of Mexico. These ranges were great for training because they were radar monitored and air-to-air engagements could be watched live on TV screens on the ground and recorded for later review.

We entered the MOA at 20,000-feet altitude and checked in with the Air Force controllers. They gave us a vector towards the first section of F‑106s, our “adversaries” for the training. We bumped our airspeed up to 350 knots and started looking. (The A-7 doesn’t have air-to-air radar. It’s strictly “eyeballs-only” for enemy aircraft detection.)

I banked sharply away from Lead and spread out into combat formation, flying about a mile abeam to 1) make it harder for the bogies to see both of us, and 2) so we could protect each other’s “6 o’clock”.

I saw them first. “Turkey, two bogies at 2 o’clock high; coming fast!”

“Roger 2. Got ‘em. Fight’s on!”

We both hit full throttle and accelerated downhill into maximum “g” turns (~6 g’s) towards the two incoming aircraft. Our only defense was to try and meet them nose-to-nose and then out-turn them after the pass to try and get to their 6 o’clock for the simulated shot. It was a lot harder than it sounds… (For a more thorough explanation see this Wiki article on Air Combat Maneuvering.)

To maintain our best airspeed in the “6-g” turn (420 knots indicated) we had to sacrifice altitude by going downhill.  (The A-7’s engine wasn’t strong enough to overcome the extra drag produced by the wing in a “high-g” turn. If you didn’t descend, you slowed down – dramatically.) That meant that after we turned to meet the attacking F-106s we were below them and pitching back up into them when they streaked by. If they had accelerated away from us using afterburners, all we could have done is turn to face them again and try not to lose sight during the turns. If you lost sight, you were usually “dead” because the “bogie” could get behind you.

Instead, they tried to out-turn us; to reverse their course with tighter and faster turns than ours. In the process, all four aircraft ended up pitching up into a sort of slow flight ballet just above stall speed in which the aircraft that is able to fly the slowest ends up behind the faster aircraft and then “shoots” it down. The A-7’s only advantage was that at these airspeeds, it could roll faster and change its direction more quickly. If the F-106 got behind one of us and tried to match our speed, we could quickly roll one way and then the other, ruining his firing solution until we could get behind him. We held off the first two F-106s and actually got a simulated shot on one using this technique. Then they called “Bingo” signaling that they’d used up all their extra fuel and needed to return to base. It had taken only 30 minutes.

As they headed back to Tyndall, the second section jumped us and we duplicated the events of the previous exchange. When they went slow, we flew slower and were able to survive. At the end of the hour, all four of us headed back to Tyndall to refuel and debrief.

While the aircraft were refueling we went to the ACM training center and reviewed the morning’s events, watching the video replay of both sets of engagements. We’d fought relatively inexperienced pilots that morning but in the afternoon session, we were scheduled to fly against the squadron CO and his wingman and one of their other senior pilots and his wingman. They had watched the morning’s events and saw what had and had not worked. The afternoon session was payback time!

That afternoon their Skipper demonstrated how to use the F-106’s superior speed to completely change the game. The engagements started the same with us turning towards the attacking jets but at the pass, instead of turning, they blew through and accelerated out and up and then began to loop back into the fight in slashing high-speed attacks that prevented us from getting our weapons into position while allowing them to pick us off at a distance. There was nothing we could do if they used this tactic except go lower and lower until we ran out of altitude. And that’s a lousy position to be in.

Both of the two sections we fought that afternoon used this technique and we had no effective defense. It was educational. When we returned to home plate that afternoon and debriefed, we looked for some sliver of consolation. The only thing was the knowledge that the A-7 could fly predictably at low airspeeds and if you knew that the enemy aircraft you were fighting had a slower roll rate, you had a small chance of survival. Thus the lesson learned was to never go toe-to-toe with a fighter aircraft at altitude. Better to get down to tree‑top level where an A-7 pilot is relatively comfortable maneuvering at high speed and “g”, and try to run the other aircraft out of fuel. (Because fighters with afterburners use way more fuel! For example, during both sessions the A-7 had been able to fight at full power for an entire hour while the F‑106s had expended all their fuel in just 30 minutes.

I admit that this was not much of a plan. In the late ’80s there were still some older Soviet fighters that might have been vulnerable to this tactic, but not many. This was one of several reasons that A‑7 Corsair pilots so welcomed the arrival of the F/A-18 Hornet. Finally, we had an aircraft whose performance was limited by what the pilot could endure rather than by its own airframe or engine limitations!

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  1. Hugh Member
    Hugh
    @Hugh

    Great post!

    • #1
  2. Michael Minnott Member
    Michael Minnott
    @MichaelMinnott

    As I recall, the Navy (or at least the Marines) kept the A-4 around for a long time.  Did you ever fly the Skyhawk?  If so, how did it compare to the A-7?

    • #2
  3. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    Max Knots: Thus the lesson learned was to never go toe-to-toe with a fighter aircraft at altitude. Better to get down to tree‑top level where an A-7 pilot is relatively comfortable maneuvering at high speed and “g”, and try to run the other aircraft out of fuel. (Because fighters with afterburners use way more fuel! For example, during both sessions the A-7 had been able to fight at full power for an entire hour while the F‑106s had expended all their fuel in just 30 minutes.

    The time factor should be part of the game.  If you can tie them up until they have to quit, then either you’ve stopped their attack or survived their defense, allowing you to continue your mission.

    • #3
  4. Ekosj Member
    Ekosj
    @Ekosj

    Judge Mental (View Comment):
    The time factor should be part of the game.  If you can tie them up until they have to quit, then either you’ve stopped their attack or survived their defense, allowing you to continue your mission.

    Rope-a-dope … or in current day parlance … the Taliban solution 

    • #4
  5. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Thank you. Great post. 

    And, thanks for being up there, keeping us protected. 

    “Thank you for your service” seems cliché’, however, I know I can sleep soundly at night because rough men are willing to die for me. America has never treated its vets well, going back to the lack of pay for the Revolutionary war, and yet people still sign up. 

    God Bless you all. 

    • #5
  6. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Michael Minnott (View Comment):

    As I recall, the Navy (or at least the Marines) kept the A-4 around for a long time. Did you ever fly the Skyhawk? If so, how did it compare to the A-7?

    The Marines got rid of all their A-4M scooters and traded them for the AV-8B in the late 80’s.  

    • #6
  7. Max Knots Member
    Max Knots
    @MaxKnots

    Michael Minnott (View Comment):

    As I recall, the Navy (or at least the Marines) kept the A-4 around for a long time. Did you ever fly the Skyhawk? If so, how did it compare to the A-7?

    The TA-4J (2-seater) was our “advanced jet” trainer and I really enjoyed flying it. It was like a small Fiat sports car while the A-7 felt more like a large Mercedes (luxurious but without much power). It’s improved avionics, instruments, HUD, Inertial Navigation, and accurate bombing system were a welcome change from the more rudimentary system in the TA-4. Now, the Marine A-4’s were single seat with bigger engines. They would have been more fun to fly than the A-7 but less accurate bombing platforms (more dependent on pilot skill) and they had shorter legs because they didn’t carry as much fuel. The Blue Angels flew versions similar to the Marines until they finally transitioned to the Hornet. 

    • #7
  8. Max Knots Member
    Max Knots
    @MaxKnots

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Max Knots: Thus the lesson learned was to never go toe-to-toe with a fighter aircraft at altitude. Better to get down to tree‑top level where an A-7 pilot is relatively comfortable maneuvering at high speed and “g”, and try to run the other aircraft out of fuel. (Because fighters with afterburners use way more fuel! For example, during both sessions the A-7 had been able to fight at full power for an entire hour while the F‑106s had expended all their fuel in just 30 minutes.

    The time factor should be part of the game. If you can tie them up until they have to quit, then either you’ve stopped their attack or survived their defense, allowing you to continue your mission.

    Exactly.

    • #8
  9. Max Knots Member
    Max Knots
    @MaxKnots

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Thank you. Great post.

    And, thanks for being up there, keeping us protected.

    “Thank you for your service” seems cliché’, however, I know I can sleep soundly at night because rough men are willing to die for me. America has never treated its vets well, going back to the lack of pay for the Revolutionary war, and yet people still sign up.

    God Bless you all.

    Thanks @briangstephens. Glad you liked it. It was an honor and a rare adventure for this boy from Michigan! I have no complaints about the VA. They’ve been there when I needed them. Fortunately, I’ve had private health insurance through my job since leaving the Navy. I’ve been fortunate to suffer none of the more problematic issues like PTSD. That’s a whole different issue.

    • #9
  10. Max Knots Member
    Max Knots
    @MaxKnots

    Quick question to all: Did anyone find the Wiki article helful? Or TMI (too much information)?

    • #10
  11. Raxxalan Member
    Raxxalan
    @Raxxalan

    Michael Minnott (View Comment):

    As I recall, the Navy (or at least the Marines) kept the A-4 around for a long time. Did you ever fly the Skyhawk? If so, how did it compare to the A-7?

    Before my father retired from the Navy, He was in charge of a naval air wing that had two squadrons of A-4s that were Aggressor aircraft (VFA).  They were used to train fighter pilots in ACM.  If I remember One of them was an interesting group they all had red stars on the aircraft and Soviet flags in the briefing rooms and so forth.   That would have been around the late 80s or early 90s so They definitely had a long service life.

    • #11
  12. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    Raxxalan (View Comment):

    Michael Minnott (View Comment):

    As I recall, the Navy (or at least the Marines) kept the A-4 around for a long time. Did you ever fly the Skyhawk? If so, how did it compare to the A-7?

    Before my father retired from the Navy, He was in charge of a naval air wing that had two squadrons of A-4s that were Aggressor aircraft (VFA). They were used to train fighter pilots in ACM. If I remember One of them was an interesting group they all had red stars on the aircraft and Soviet flags in the briefing rooms and so forth. That would have been around the late 80s or early 90s so They definitely had a long service life.

    Weren’t they using A-4s as MiGs in Top Gun?

    • #12
  13. Max Knots Member
    Max Knots
    @MaxKnots

     

    • #13
  14. Max Knots Member
    Max Knots
    @MaxKnots

    Raxxalan (View Comment):

    Michael Minnott (View Comment):

    As I recall, the Navy (or at least the Marines) kept the A-4 around for a long time. Did you ever fly the Skyhawk? If so, how did it compare to the A-7?

    Before my father retired from the Navy, He was in charge of a naval air wing that had two squadrons of A-4s that were Aggressor aircraft (VFA). They were used to train fighter pilots in ACM. If I remember One of them was an interesting group they all had red stars on the aircraft and Soviet flags in the briefing rooms and so forth. That would have been around the late 80s or early 90s so They definitely had a long service life.

    They were terrific for that because they were small and hard to see and had decent thrust-to-weight (compared to A7). Very fast roll rate too. The leading edge slats made them persnickety if you were flying slow. If one stuck in while the other extended it could put you in a spin. At low air speeds you never used the ailerons to roll. Rudders only or a stall/spin was likely.

    One of my instructors in Advanced Jet Training was a Marine A4 pilot. He was lucky to be alive. During his first tour in A4s he actually flew into the water during a night rendezvous. Woke up under water. Managed to open the canopy and inflate his life vest and bobbed to the surface. 
    He was particularly critical of any student who went low during a formation rendezvous. Crazy eh?

    • #14
  15. Quietpi Member
    Quietpi
    @Quietpi

    Fascinating.  Tell me how the A-7 compares to the A-10?

    And a question I’ve had since I heard of the idea:  What do you think of the idea of replacing the A-10 with the F-35?  If it can do the same thing at greater stand-off distance, then I can see the benefit there, but the first part, accomplishing the same thing with a fighter, I don’t see it.  They just aren’t the same thing – different armament, etc. etc.

    • #15
  16. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Quietpi (View Comment):

    Fascinating. Tell me how the A-7 compares to the A-10?

    And a question I’ve had since I heard of the idea: What do you think of the idea of replacing the A-10 with the F-35? If it can do the same thing at greater stand-off distance, then I can see the benefit there, but the first part, accomplishing the same thing with a fighter, I don’t see it. They just aren’t the same thing – different armament, etc. etc.

    How can the F-35 possibly do the same thing as the A-10?  It’s kind of like saying that a Porsche 911 Turbo can do the same thing as a four wheel drive pickup truck.  

    Personally, I think that even though the air force has had an obsession to get rid of the A-10 since before they even got it, I think it is time to retire it.   Put them all in Davis Monthan bone yard before the Taliban find a way to get their hands on them.

    • #16
  17. Fastflyer Member
    Fastflyer
    @Fastflyer

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Raxxalan (View Comment):

    Michael Minnott (View Comment):

    As I recall, the Navy (or at least the Marines) kept the A-4 around for a long time. Did you ever fly the Skyhawk? If so, how did it compare to the A-7?

    Before my father retired from the Navy, He was in charge of a naval air wing that had two squadrons of A-4s that were Aggressor aircraft (VFA). They were used to train fighter pilots in ACM. If I remember One of them was an interesting group they all had red stars on the aircraft and Soviet flags in the briefing rooms and so forth. That would have been around the late 80s or early 90s so They definitely had a long service life.

    Weren’t they using A-4s as MiGs in Top Gun? The Migs in Top Gun were F-5’s. The instructors flew A-4’s at the Top Gun school.

     

    • #17
  18. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    An A-10 is an ordinance dump truck. A heavily armored, virtually indestructible dump truck. Being driven by a homicidal maniac in a bad mood.

    • #18
  19. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Same plane.

    • #19
  20. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    Fastflyer (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Raxxalan (View Comment):

    Michael Minnott (View Comment):

    As I recall, the Navy (or at least the Marines) kept the A-4 around for a long time. Did you ever fly the Skyhawk? If so, how did it compare to the A-7?

    Before my father retired from the Navy, He was in charge of a naval air wing that had two squadrons of A-4s that were Aggressor aircraft (VFA). They were used to train fighter pilots in ACM. If I remember One of them was an interesting group they all had red stars on the aircraft and Soviet flags in the briefing rooms and so forth. That would have been around the late 80s or early 90s so They definitely had a long service life.

    Weren’t they using A-4s as MiGs in Top Gun? The Migs in Top Gun were F-5’s. The instructors flew A-4’s at the Top Gun school.

     

    ‘Swhat I meant.  Using them as MiG stand-ins for training.  Didn’t know the F-5 part, though.

    • #20
  21. Max Knots Member
    Max Knots
    @MaxKnots

    Quietpi (View Comment):

    Fascinating. Tell me how the A-7 compares to the A-10?

    And a question I’ve had since I heard of the idea: What do you think of the idea of replacing the A-10 with the F-35? If it can do the same thing at greater stand-off distance, then I can see the benefit there, but the first part, accomplishing the same thing with a fighter, I don’t see it. They just aren’t the same thing – different armament, etc. etc.

    I’m no expert but I’ve heard that the A-10 is very popular with the troops on the ground for its close-air support, it’s ability to effectively suppress enemy fire and take out tanks, convoys and other point targets. It flies slowly enough that its turn radius keeps it close enough to easily identify the targets. And its engine location up behind the wings makes them less vulnerable to ground fire and low-tech heat-seeking SAMs. The pilot sits in a titanium tub so it can survive a lot of battle damage despite flying relatively slowly, so close to the ground. 

    The A-7 had similar capabilities but would have been more vulnerable to ground fire. Also, the A-7’s M61 Gatling gun was only 20mm while the Warthog threw 30mm rounds. I wouldn’t want to be downrange from either one but the A-10 would have been more effective against tanks.

    My guess is that the F-35 won’t have quite the endurance of the A-10 and uses newer technology to achieve its accuracy at greater stand-off distances, making it less vulnerable to ground fire. But that’s just my guess. Don’t hold me to it! :-) 

    • #21
  22. Max Knots Member
    Max Knots
    @MaxKnots

    Percival (View Comment):

    Same plane.

    @Perceval: I defer to your expertise and memes. Well put. I didn’t see your answer until after I hit the “Comment” button. I gotta read to the end of these things before commenting!  :-)

     

    • #22
  23. Quietpi Member
    Quietpi
    @Quietpi

    Skyler (View Comment):

    How can the F-35 possibly do the same thing as the A-10?  It’s kind of like saying that a Porsche 911 Turbo can do the same thing as a four wheel drive pickup truck.  

    Exactly.  That’s exactly what I thought when I heard / read top AF brass advocating it.  

    Personally, I think that even though the air force has had an obsession to get rid of the A-10 since before they even got it, I think it is time to retire it.   Put them all in Davis Monthan bone yard before the Taliban find a way to get their hands on them.

    So is there now, or in development (was, before the present administration took over), a replacement for a ground attack aircraft?  Or is the ground attack mission overrated?  It’s certainly popular with ground forces, especially armor units.

    • #23
  24. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    The F-35 will not be sporting a GAU-8 Avenger.

    A gun so awesome, they built a plane around it.

    • #24
  25. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Max Knots (View Comment):

    Quietpi (View Comment):

    Fascinating. Tell me how the A-7 compares to the A-10?

    And a question I’ve had since I heard of the idea: What do you think of the idea of replacing the A-10 with the F-35? If it can do the same thing at greater stand-off distance, then I can see the benefit there, but the first part, accomplishing the same thing with a fighter, I don’t see it. They just aren’t the same thing – different armament, etc. etc.

    I’m no expert but I’ve heard that the A-10 is very popular with the troops on the ground for its close-air support, it’s ability to effectively suppress enemy fire and take out tanks, convoys and other point targets. It flies slowly enough that its turn radius keeps it close enough to easily identify the targets. And its engine location up behind the wings makes them less vulnerable to ground fire and low-tech heat-seeking SAMs. The pilot sits in a titanium tub so it can survive a lot of battle damage despite flying relatively slowly, so close to the ground.

    The A-7 had similar capabilities but would have been more vulnerable to ground fire. Also, the A-7’s M61 Gatling gun was only 20mm while the Warthog threw 30mm rounds. I wouldn’t want to be downrange from either one but the A-10 would have been more effective against tanks.

    My guess is that the F-35 won’t have quite the endurance of the A-10 and uses newer technology to achieve its accuracy at greater stand-off distances, making it less vulnerable to ground fire. But that’s just my guess. Don’t hold me to it! :-)

    Didn’t the F-35 engage in a competitive testing against the A-10 go in close air support and anti-tank combat a few year ago and get resoundingly outclassed.

    • #25
  26. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Quietpi (View Comment):

    Skyler (View Comment):

    How can the F-35 possibly do the same thing as the A-10? It’s kind of like saying that a Porsche 911 Turbo can do the same thing as a four wheel drive pickup truck.

    Exactly. That’s exactly what I thought when I heard / read top AF brass advocating it.

    Personally, I think that even though the air force has had an obsession to get rid of the A-10 since before they even got it, I think it is time to retire it. Put them all in Davis Monthan bone yard before the Taliban find a way to get their hands on them.

    So is there now, or in development (was, before the present administration took over), a replacement for a ground attack aircraft? Or is the ground attack mission overrated? It’s certainly popular with ground forces, especially armor units.

    I’m pretty sure the F-35 was (among many things) supposed to be the replacement for the A-10.

    • #26
  27. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Quietpi (View Comment):

    Skyler (View Comment):

    How can the F-35 possibly do the same thing as the A-10? It’s kind of like saying that a Porsche 911 Turbo can do the same thing as a four wheel drive pickup truck.

    Exactly. That’s exactly what I thought when I heard / read top AF brass advocating it.

    Personally, I think that even though the air force has had an obsession to get rid of the A-10 since before they even got it, I think it is time to retire it. Put them all in Davis Monthan bone yard before the Taliban find a way to get their hands on them.

    So is there now, or in development (was, before the present administration took over), a replacement for a ground attack aircraft? Or is the ground attack mission overrated? It’s certainly popular with ground forces, especially armor units.

    I’m pretty sure the F-35 was (among many things) supposed to be the replacement for the A-10.

    There was a fly-off, and there is some question as to how realistic it was. If they really limited the A-10 to 400 30mm rounds, that is nuts. An A-10 can (and does) carry almost 3x that much. That was just one detail of the “test” that was suspect.

    In terms of air-to-air, there seems to be little question that the F-35 has a lot to offer. I particularly like this part:

    Novice F-35 pilots were able to step in and save more experienced friendly fourth-generation fighter pilots while racking up kills.

    “My wingman was a brand new F-35A pilot, seven or eight flights out of training,” Wood said, recounting his experiences. “He gets on the radio and tells an experienced 3,000-hour pilot in a very capable fourth-generation aircraft. ‘Hey bud, you need to turn around. You’re about to die. There’s a threat off your nose.’”

    That young pilot took out the enemy aircraft and then went on to pick up three more “kills” during the mission, which lasted for an hour. “I’ve never seen anything like it before,” Wood added.

    • #27
  28. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Percival (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Quietpi (View Comment):

    Skyler (View Comment):

    How can the F-35 possibly do the same thing as the A-10? It’s kind of like saying that a Porsche 911 Turbo can do the same thing as a four wheel drive pickup truck.

    Exactly. That’s exactly what I thought when I heard / read top AF brass advocating it.

    Personally, I think that even though the air force has had an obsession to get rid of the A-10 since before they even got it, I think it is time to retire it. Put them all in Davis Monthan bone yard before the Taliban find a way to get their hands on them.

    So is there now, or in development (was, before the present administration took over), a replacement for a ground attack aircraft? Or is the ground attack mission overrated? It’s certainly popular with ground forces, especially armor units.

    I’m pretty sure the F-35 was (among many things) supposed to be the replacement for the A-10.

    There was a fly-off, and there is some question as to how realistic it was. If they really limited the A-10 to 400 30mm rounds, that is nuts. An A-10 can (and does) carry almost 3x that much. That was just one detail of the “test” that was suspect.

    In terms of air-to-air, there seems to be little question that the F-35 has a lot to offer. I particularly like this part:

    Novice F-35 pilots were able to step in and save more experienced friendly fourth-generation fighter pilots while racking up kills.

    “My wingman was a brand new F-35A pilot, seven or eight flights out of training,” Wood said, recounting his experiences. “He gets on the radio and tells an experienced 3,000-hour pilot in a very capable fourth-generation aircraft. ‘Hey bud, you need to turn around. You’re about to die. There’s a threat off your nose.’”

    That young pilot took out the enemy aircraft and then went on to pick up three more “kills” during the mission, which lasted for an hour. “I’ve never seen anything like it before,” Wood added.

    Yes, I read this and liked it.  For some reason, not necessarily unbiased, almost all of what I’ve read about the F-35 is negative, from cost to trying to put too much into one airframe, to complaints about performance to computer glitches.  What you quoted above, is pretty much the only heartening thing I’ve read about the F-35.  So I guess I have a preconceived bias as well, right or wrong.

    I’m glad that it is getting good reviews from actual pilots.

    • #28
  29. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Quietpi (View Comment):

    Skyler (View Comment):

    How can the F-35 possibly do the same thing as the A-10? It’s kind of like saying that a Porsche 911 Turbo can do the same thing as a four wheel drive pickup truck.

    Exactly. That’s exactly what I thought when I heard / read top AF brass advocating it.

    Personally, I think that even though the air force has had an obsession to get rid of the A-10 since before they even got it, I think it is time to retire it. Put them all in Davis Monthan bone yard before the Taliban find a way to get their hands on them.

    So is there now, or in development (was, before the present administration took over), a replacement for a ground attack aircraft? Or is the ground attack mission overrated? It’s certainly popular with ground forces, especially armor units.

    I’m pretty sure the F-35 was (among many things) supposed to be the replacement for the A-10.

    There was a fly-off, and there is some question as to how realistic it was. If they really limited the A-10 to 400 30mm rounds, that is nuts. An A-10 can (and does) carry almost 3x that much. That was just one detail of the “test” that was suspect.

    In terms of air-to-air, there seems to be little question that the F-35 has a lot to offer. I particularly like this part:

    Novice F-35 pilots were able to step in and save more experienced friendly fourth-generation fighter pilots while racking up kills.

    “My wingman was a brand new F-35A pilot, seven or eight flights out of training,” Wood said, recounting his experiences. “He gets on the radio and tells an experienced 3,000-hour pilot in a very capable fourth-generation aircraft. ‘Hey bud, you need to turn around. You’re about to die. There’s a threat off your nose.’”

    That young pilot took out the enemy aircraft and then went on to pick up three more “kills” during the mission, which lasted for an hour. “I’ve never seen anything like it before,” Wood added.

    Yes, I read this and liked it. For some reason, not necessarily unbiased, almost all of what I’ve red about the F-35 is negative, from cost to trying to put too much into one airframe, to complaints about performance to computer glitches. What you quoted above, is pretty much the only heartening thing I’ve read about the F-35. So I guess I have a preconceived bias as well, right or wrong.

    I’m glad that it is getting good reviews from actual pilots.

    If it’s any consolation, Mother Jones still doesn’t like it.

    • #29
  30. Flicker Coolidge
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    How can the F-35 possibly do the same thing as the A-10? It’s kind of like saying that a Porsche 911 Turbo can do the same thing as a four wheel drive pickup truck.

    Exactly. That’s exactly what I thought when I heard / read top AF brass advocating it.

    Personally, I think that even though the air force has had an obsession to get rid of the A-10 since before they even got it, I think it is time to retire it. Put them all in Davis Monthan bone yard before the Taliban find a way to get their hands on them.

    So is there now, or in development (was, before the present administration took over), a replacement for a ground attack aircraft? Or is the ground attack mission overrated? It’s certainly popular with ground forces, especially armor units.

    I’m pretty sure the F-35 was (among many things) supposed to be the replacement for the A-10.

    There was a fly-off, and there is some question as to how realistic it was. If they really limited the A-10 to 400 30mm rounds, that is nuts. An A-10 can (and does) carry almost 3x that much. That was just one detail of the “test” that was suspect.

    In terms of air-to-air, there seems to be little question that the F-35 has a lot to offer. I particularly like this part:

    Novice F-35 pilots were able to step in and save more experienced friendly fourth-generation fighter pilots while racking up kills.

    “My wingman was a brand new F-35A pilot, seven or eight flights out of training,” Wood said, recounting his experiences. “He gets on the radio and tells an experienced 3,000-hour pilot in a very capable fourth-generation aircraft. ‘Hey bud, you need to turn around. You’re about to die. There’s a threat off your nose.’”

    That young pilot took out the enemy aircraft and then went on to pick up three more “kills” during the mission, which lasted for an hour. “I’ve never seen anything like it before,” Wood added.

    Yes, I read this and liked it. For some reason, not necessarily unbiased, almost all of what I’ve red about the F-35 is negative, from cost to trying to put too much into one airframe, to complaints about performance to computer glitches. What you quoted above, is pretty much the only heartening thing I’ve read about the F-35. So I guess I have a preconceived bias as well, right or wrong.

    I’m glad that it is getting good reviews from actual pilots.

    If it’s any consolation, Mother Jones still doesn’t like it.

    This doesn’t make me feel better.  Knowing that some active pilots think it’s great does, though.

    • #30