F-35 Dominates At Red Flag With 15:1 Kill Rate
The U.S. Air Force’s F-35A made its debut at the toughest Red Flag yet, and not only dominated the air space but made the legacy aircraft in the force package even deadlier, according to pilots.
The F-35’s participation in the Air Force’s capstone training event at Nellis AFB, Nevada, which is known as one of the world’s most realistic and challenging air-to-air combat exercises, marked a crucial test for the fifth-generation fighter. This year, pilots went up against the most aggressive threat laydown ever seen at a Red Flag: more surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), more jamming, and more red air, said Lt. Col. George Watkins, 34th Fighter Squadron commander.
The exercise began Jan. 23 and will continue until Feb. 10.
Despite the stepped up threat, pilots lost only one F-35 to every 15 aggressors killed in action—an impressive kill ratio for an aircraft that is not designed as an air-to-air fighter.
Where before an F-16 would not even see the advanced threat on the battlespace—the blue forces would take them out ahead of time with standoff weapons—now with the F-35 added to the mix, pilots can detect and pinpoint multiple threats at once, Watkins said.
By: Lara Seligman
Lara Seligman is the Pentagon Editor for Aviation Week