Monday, March 11, 2013

F-35: The art of fighting strawmen

Some of the critics are simply desperate when it comes to denigrating the F-35.  And one of the things they love to do is pretend the aircraft is something it isn't and then tear it apart because it isn't.

The perfect example is characterizing the F-35 as a air superiority fighter.  It is a constant attempt on the part of many critics.  I pointed to one just the other day.

The name of the F-35 is "Joint STRIKE fighter".  It isn't nor has it ever been touted as an air superiority fighter.   That's the F-22 Raptor's job.  That doesn't mean that the F-35 isn't capable of shooting down enemy aircraft, however, the idea (think low observable) is to get the F-35 into areas without being seen and striking targets such as air defenses and other selected targets in support of the commander's objectives.  And to do that, you're likely going to try to avoid other aircraft.

But what if you can't?  Well here are the critic's latest "criticisms":
Other sections of the report outline some of the flaws that make the cockpit unsafe for pilots: “The out-of-cockpit visibility in the F-35A is less than other Air Force fighter aircraft The head rest is too large and will impede aft [rear] visibility and survivability during surface and air engagements. Aft visibility will get the pilot gunned [down] every time in dogfights."
That's supposedly from a "leaked memo" from the Director of the Operational Test and Evaluation Directorate to the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I say "supposedly" because it seems to be completely ignorant of the 360 visibility capability for the aircraft. What it essentially implies is the ability of the pilot to see 360 degrees with the F-35's helmet and sensors doesn't exist or won't exist.

As we've pointed out many times the advanced helmet for the F-35 does indeed exist as does the capability for 360 degree visibility.  Out of cockpit visibility is, well, 360 degrees.  And the "headrest" will not get in the way since the pilot will actually be looking behind him with the sensor mounted outside and behind the cockpit and not trying to see through the headrest.

Certainly, as we've noted, the helmet has had some challenges.  It had latency and jitter problems, but those have apparently been solved.  And the night vision acuity problem is being worked on.  But the fact remains that the 360 degree visibility is available and working ... a feature no other fighter jet enjoys.

But you wouldn't know it from the critics who, apparently, are either ignorant of its existence or simply prefer pretending it doesn't exist.


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