The first Royal Norwegian Air Force F-35 lands at Luke AFB. (Image © US Air Force / Staff Sgt. Marcy Copeland)

Norwegian pilot defends F-35’s dogfighting capability

A Norwegian F-35 pilot stationed at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, speaks favourable of the F-35’s dogfigthing capabilities in a blog published on Tuesday 1 March. His statements describe how the aircraft performs better than the F-16 at low speeds. His findings are similar to those of a Dutch F-35 pilot written here on Airheadsfly.com and contrast earlier reports.

Morten ‘Dolby’ Hanche is a pilot with 2,200 hours on the F-16. Last year, he became the first Norwegian to fly the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II, of which Norway seeks 55. Hanche is now an F-35 intructor pilot (IP) at Luke Air Force Base.

In his blog, Hanche writes about his impressions during basic fighter manoeuvring (BFM) in the new jet. “The F-35 provides me as a pilot greater authority to point the nose of the airplane where I desire. 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.”

Slow speed handling is crucial in close range dogfights. “Yet another quality of the F-35 becomes evident in this flight regime”, continues Hanche. “Using the rudder pedals I can command the nose of the airplane from side to side. The F-35 reacts quicker to my pedal inputs than the F-16 would at its maximum angle of attack (AOA). The F-16 would actually be out of control at this AOA.”

The AM-1 is the first Royal Norwegian Air Force F-35A Lightning II, seen here just before the presentation ceremony on 22 September 2015 (Image © Torgeir Haugaard / Forsvarets mediesenter)
The AM-1 is the first Royal Norwegian Air Force F-35A Lightning II, seen here just before the presentation ceremony on 22 September 2015 (Image © Torgeir Haugaard / Forsvarets mediesenter)

Eye-opener

Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) pilot Ian ‘Gladys’ Knight earlier this year already described to Airheadsfly.com that slow speeds are where the F-35 performs better than the F-16. “Slow-speed and high AOA performance is much better than many fourth generation fighters like the F-16. High angle of attack testing has been an eye-opener for previous F-16 pilots, who are not used to very good slow speed performance. ”

Acceleration

Acceleration from the Pratt & Whitney’s F-135 engine impressed both Hanche and Knight. “It is evident that the F-35 has a powerful engine”, writes the Norwegian. His complete blog is found here.

The experience of both pilots contrasts with the findings of an anonymous US pilot, who reported the F-35 had hard time fighting an F-16, even though the latter was fitted with two wing tanks. His experience sparked a lot of critical reports and was mentioned in an annual program review by the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest

2 thoughts on “Norwegian pilot defends F-35’s dogfighting capability”

  1. Are they comparing the right version of the F-16, I think both Norway and the Netherland got the very first version with a lower engine capacity?

    So if that is the case they may compete something else and maybe not lie, but not really truthfully either.

  2. Slow speed is more like sitting ducks in dogfighting. But it’s important with good low speed manouverability in CAS operations.

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