The forty-year old F16 outmanoeuvred the F35. Simple as that. The F35 pilot said, it’s simply not there for close combat. It can’t do it.
Even more, the F35 was carrying nothing and the F16 was carrying extra fuel tanks.
IMHO the F35 was made using ‘management’ techniques somewhat like those used in the Dreamliner. Even worse, the requirements included essentially three plane designs for three versions: standard, short-takeoff, and vertical landing. At one point the last of these was on hold due to serious challenges with the ‘nozzle’ that redirects the jet blast to allow vertical landing.
The plane is late, horribly over budget, and possibly inadequate. It is certainly of lower speed and less lift per pound than the F16. It has only one engine. As I recall, the fire extinguisher was removed to save weight.
But, there is hope. The F35 proponents say, with stealth paint, magic long-range weapons, and tons of technology (a super helmet that makes it hard to look behind one’s self) – the proponents say, it can shoot down a fleet of F16s that it cannot see.
So, one might cynically say, it depends on magic.
I note that the F35 is also supposed to replace the A10, which apparently is a fabulous ground support plane. Nicknamed the Warthog, it has a Lot of armour and carries a seven-barrel Gatling gun with a muzzle velocity of 3500 feet per second. For comparison, the speed of sound is some 1124 feet per second, almost exactly the muzzle velocity of a .22 long rifle (standard cartridge) which has a range of about 1.25 miles when fired from the ground.
The F35 can’t do ground support. It depends on long-distance missiles. In stealth mode, its weapons must be inside the hull (otherwise the radar-invisibility is compromised.)
we’re about to see the military-industrial complex replace powerful aircraft with new ones that seem to depend on long-distance radar intelligence and intelligent missiles. How accurate is that? How safe?
Finally, how happy are the American people (and their UK helpers) in spending all this money on this technological ‘magic?’ That’s the dumb question.