Is the F35 Lightning II a Dumpster Fire?

Tom Clark 2021/11/19 17:26

I've never really taken a liking to the F-18 or F-35. I do like the idea of a multi-role airframe that is a cost effective frame. But I think the multi-role airframe needs to be very, very inexpensive and should not be relied upon in a meaningful way in achieving air superiority, especially in the age of the drone bomber.

So my critique of the F-18 is that it ended up replacing the F-14 Tomcat. By all means, replace the F15 Tomcat but you need to do that with a plane that will significantly do a better job in achieving air superiority. The F-18 never achieved that capability to my knowledge. I haven't been following this lately, so perhaps the F-18 now has a variant with a long range air-to-air intercept radar coupled with a missile that is better than the AIM-54 Pheonix. If so, it was a long time coming. By the way, in quick research it seems that the AIM-120 Aamram and U.S. air-to-air radar has been upgraded to a point where it is scoring the longest range test hits ever conducted (article).

The F35 is just too expensive and risky compared to using drones to drop bombs. Therefore, build F-22s and upgrade F-15Cs and keep that fleet to dominate the air. In fact, the F-15 and F-15E frame, in my opinion, should be put back into production to backup the way more expensive F-22s, if need be. With drones, stealth drones, satellite technology, and energy weapons, I'm not seeing much use in any other airframes, including my beloved F-16 and the F-18.

The only other fighter/bomber I can think of worth having an inventory of is a non fly-by-wire A-10 variant or the like. Having a warplane that you can fly if enemy has advanced electronic jamming/scrambling capabilities against drones makes sense as a backup in a really tough electronic signal environment.

Before I stop, I want to shed a bit of love towards multi-role aircraft. Before we had good drones, the F-16 has been a great program and even though I am not a fan of the F-18, it was a great system as far as an attack fighter goes. I just don't think the F-18 should have replaced the F-14 as the fleet defender. That should have went to an entirely different design that could employ the AIM-54 up until it's range and lethality were both surpassed by another missile.