USAF Responds

F-35 Integration Director Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian said operational and developmental testing for the F-35 continues, but “it is too soon to draw any final conclusions about the maneuverability of the aircraft.” Responding to the War is Boring blog’s assertion that test pilots have proved the F-35 can’t beat the F-16 in a dogfight, Harrigian said the F-35 was “designed to be comparable to current tactical fighters in terms of maneuverability, but the design is optimized for stealth. This will allow it to operate in threat environments where the F-16 could not survive.” Harrigian has previously noted that the F-22 and F-35 were intended to be a stealthy “high-low mix,” like the F-15 and F-16, optimized, respectively, for air supremacy and ground attack with a secondary dogfighting capability. He also has noted that the F-22 wasn’t built in the numbers USAF deemed necessary, thus imposing more of a dogfighting burden on the F-35, which wasn’t designed with that mission as the priority.