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Updated 2:12 PM EST, Wed, Jan 29, 2020

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F-35 Scores 15:1 Kill Ratio in Red Flag 2017 Air Combat Exercise

15:1

(Photo : USAF) F-35A Lightning IIs from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings prepare to depart Hill AFB, Utah for Nellis AFB, Nevada to participate in Red Flag 17-01.

The only thing surprising about the superiority of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in air-to-air combat exercises is how huge its kill ratio against fourth generation fighters will be.

The latest demonstration of F-35 superiority was the eight-day Exercise Red Flag 17-01 or Red Flag 17-01 held recently at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.

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F-35As scored a 15:1 kill ratio against Aggressor "Red Forces" (enemy) aircraft, in this case General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcons wearing Russian Air Force camouflage schemes and insignia, and whose pilots were trained in Russian dogfighting tactics.

This is the first time F-35s have joined a Red Flag exercise, the premier air-to-air combat exercise of the U.S. Air Force, and the world's most realistic and challenging exercise of its kind. An advanced aerial combat training exercise, Red Flag is an all-out air war featuring air-to-air, air-to-ground, search and rescue and Special Forces units.

Fighters from U.S. allies, including NATO, also joined Red Flag 17-01, and flew and fought as part of the friendly "Blue Forces." The F-35A is the version flown by the U.S. Air Force.

The F-35A pilots are from the 388th Fighter Wing and 419th Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base in Utah. These fighter jocks began air-to-air combat against the "Russian" F-16s on Jan. 23.

These "Russians" belong to the 57th Adversary Tactics Group (57 ATG) of the 57th Wing flying F-16s from the 64th Aggressor Squadron (64 AGRS), and F-15s from the 65th Aggressor Squadron (65 AGRS) to provide realistic air threats through the emulation of Russian and Chinese tactics.

The Red-Flag exercises, which take place every four to six years, are flown in the skies over the Nellis range located northwest of Las Vegas and covers over 2.9 million acres. Apart from fighter jets, bombers, reconnaissance aircraft, air-refueling tankers and airborne early warning and control aircraft all take part in Red Flag.

Fighters and other aircraft from the United States Air Force (USAF); the United States Navy (USN); the United States Marine Corps (USMC) and the United States Army (USA) fly in Red Flag.

Confidence in the ability of the F-35 to dominate Generation 4 fighters of China's People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) and People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) remains high among U.S. fighter pilots.

Their confidence stems from the overwhelming victories in simulated aerial combats against U.S. fourth generation fighters such as the F-15 Eagle, and the testimonies of F-35 pilots surprised at the ease with which they racked up kills against their opponents.

The kill ratio in these air-to-air combats held over the past few years ranged from 24-0 to 8-0 for the F-35, depending on the number of fighters involved.

"I can't wait to get the airplane out to the Pacific," said Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, Deputy Commandant for Aviation, Headquarters Marine Corps in 2015.

"It's tailor-made for that part of the world with its fifth generation capability and its expeditionary capabilities to land on a small ship or strip, and flow back and forth between those."

"It is like watching a velociraptor going through. Everything in its path is killed," he said.

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