Regarding the column “Big-budget F-35 ‘can't turn, can't climb, can't run'” by David Axe, national security editor at Medium.com: Mr. Axe clearly has one to grind.
This entire column is based on one cleverly dramatic quote, not actual test data. This kind of stone-throwing by a non-aviator, non-engineer really boils me. It's grossly simplistic solipsism to say that if something is expensive and part of the Department of Defense, it must perforce be a stupid purchase. Axe adds enough qualifiers in his text to cover his delicate sensibility, but this column is a waste of ink.
While in the Navy, I flew an A-7 Corsair — an absolute slug of a single-engine airplane — for over 2,000 flight hours and hundreds of carrier landings. It was grossly underpowered with a notoriously unreliable engine. Yet it was a hugely successful machine in the only place where it counts: actual combat. The A-7 proved itself in Vietnam, Libya, Grenada, Lebanon and even the first Gulf War.
How did we ever survive without some “analyst” telling the world about all its faults? We learned the airplane and played its strengths against the enemy's weaknesses. Based on what I read in the column, the RAND Corp. “study” was most likely a simple graph-versus-graph comparison of the F-35 and a number of nominally comparable Chinese fighters. It is a lousy analysis.
The writer is a retired Navy fighter pilot.
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