Norwegian F-35 Pilot Counters Controversial ‘Dogfighting’ Report

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Norwegian F-35 Pilot Counters Controversial ‘Dogfighting’ Report


Category: Defense / Security

WASHINGTON – For the first time since a controversial report detailing how the F-35 performs in a dogfight emerged last summer, an F-35 pilot gave an in-depth analysis of his experience flying the jet in a close-range battle scenario.

Norwegian Air Force Maj. Morten “Dolby” Hanche, the first Norwegian to fly the F-35, analyzed the jet’s performance in a dogfight in a March 1 blog post published on Norway’s Ministry of Defense website.

Although Hanche never mentions the 2015 report, “F-35A High Angle of Attack Operational Maneuvers” and revealed last summer by blogger David Axe on, he counters many of the anonymous author’s claims.

The 2015 report criticized the F-35’s lack of power and maneuverability compared to the F-16 during high angle of attack exercises. The F-35 “was at a distinct energy disadvantage in a turning fight,” the author wrote, also noting that “pitch rates were too slow to prosecute or deny weapons.”

In contrast, Hanche wrote the F-35 is capable of a significantly higher angle of attack than the F-16, providing the pilot greater authority to point the nose of the airplane wherever he wants.

“This improved ability to point at my opponent enables me to deliver weapons earlier than I am used to with the F-16, it forces my opponent to react even more defensively, and it gives me the ability to reduce the airspeed quicker than in the F-16,” wrote Hanche, a US Navy test pilot school graduate with 2,200 flight hours in Lockheed Martin’s F-16.

Hanche now serves as an instructor and the assistant weapons officer with the 62nd fighter squadron at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona.

In the defensive role, the pilot can “whip” the F-35 around while simultaneously slowing down, Hanche wrote. The plane can actually slow down more quickly than a driver is able to emergency brake a car.

At its maximum angle of attack, the F-35 reacts more quickly to the pilot’s “pedal inputs,” which command the nose of the plane from side to side, than does the F-16, according to Hanche.

“This gives me an alternate way of pointing the airplane where I need it to, in order to threaten an opponent,” Hanche wrote. “This ‘pedal turn’ yields an impressive turn rate, even at low airspeeds. In a defensive situation, the ‘pedal turn’ provides me the ability to rapidly neutralize a situation, or perhaps even reverse the roles entirely.”

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Source: Norwegian F-35 Pilot Counters Controversial ‘Dogfighting’ Report

Published: January 3, 2016