A-10 vs. F-35 close-air support ‘fly off’ shrouded in secrecy
By: Victoria Leoni and Kyle Rempfer for Air Force Times
The much-anticipated A-10 vs. F-35 close-air support fly-off has wrapped up before many people even realized the tests were happening, but a government watchdog group claims the tests were rigged in favor the Lightning II, a fifth-generation multirole fighter.
The Project On Government Oversight revealed Tuesday that the tests were underway at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in Arizona and Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in California. According to a testing schedule POGO reviewed, the one-week fly-off began July 5 and concluded Thursday.
Citing sources “closely associated with the fly-off,” POGO reported that large-scale Army and Marine ground units did not participate in the fly-off. Given those services’ significant stake in receiving effective close-air support, their absence was conspicuous.
“A close-air support test should involve large numbers of ground troops in a highly fluid combat simulation in varied terrain, across many days,” wrote POGO’s Dan Grazier. “It should test the pilot’s ability to spot targets from the air in a chaotic and ever-changing situation. The test should also include a means of testing the program’s ability to fly several sorties a day, because combat doesn’t pause to wait for airplanes to become available.”[FULL ARTICLE]