Interview with RNoAF Maj. Dolby Hanche

Discuss the F-35 Lightning II
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Unread post13 Mar 2018, 15:20

Via Google translate of Source:

In February, I was allowed to talk about F-35 during the annual Air Force Seminar at the Air War School in Trondheim. The order was F-35 and air-to-air roll. I have written a part about F-35 and air combat in other blog posts. This post is a customized version of the lecture I held in Trondheim, and it has a slightly different angle. Initially, I summarize the performance perspective before I go into the most important part of the article: How should the Defense use the F-35 in the air-to-air role? I think this is an important question, which we must have good and clear answers to. In a larger perspective, I do not think it's smart to try to distinguish the air-to-air role from air to hill. The point must be that the Armed Forces must have a plan for how to use the F-35. I will return to this in a later post.

The term "fifth-level air defense" was repeated during the seminar. Even I'm a bit unsure of what it really means. Once I have used the phrase in the lecture, it was a very simple interpretation at the bottom: A "fifth generation air defense" is somewhat better - more effective - than we have today. Our academics can certainly elaborate on this in the future. Here you have talked:

The king in the air

I've used a lot about F-35 earlier. Last time I thought something about Air War College, my background was to have read specifications, test reports and have flown simulator. Then I stated that the machine was formidable. Now I have flown the machine for a year and I'm glad to say; What did I say? F-35 is the king in the air!

I'll be a bit more precise: With full war equipment, my experience with F-35A is that

It's easier to fly than F-16.
It's faster than F-16.
It has a longer range than F-16.
It flies higher than F-16.
It is more maneuverable than F-16.
It finds opponents on a longer distance (than F-16 would have done).
Opponents discover F-35 later than an F-16 would be found.
And it looks tougher!

So what? Is it relevant to compare with F-16? It is not very likely that we meet a hostile F-16. The reason I compare with F-16 is because I know F-16 because F-16 is a mid-to-tree example of a "fourth generation" fighter plane and because rated sources make it difficult to compare directly with more current threats there out.

Let me give you some practical examples that I believe support my claims.

Vingled crow

When I took the F-35 in the air for the first time, I immediately noticed that the airplane was easy to fly. The impression has only been stronger since then. F-35 has a nice balance between soft and accurate response on one side, for example, when we fly in tight formation. On the other hand, the machine reacts quickly and violently when I need it, for example in close combat. In F-35, we sometimes prefer low-speed close combat because the F-35 can be reliably controlled at lower speeds than I am used to. Another side of the F-35 and ease of use is that it's easy to get up in the air and easy to land. This is especially evident when landing in sidewinds: F-16 is like a winged crow, which you have to guard all the way. In comparison, the F-35 almost feels like a train on rails.

I live there and know what I'm talking about.

Is it so important that the machine is easy to fly? Should not the pilots, with expensive education (and big ego) cope with a small challenge? It should be obvious that an airplane that is easy to use is safer to operate; The pilot gets more profits to plan ahead and can make better decisions. This is especially important with the F-35 since there are no two-seater seats for use in exercise. There will never be an instructor in a backseat, ready to save a dangerous situation. Good flying qualities are therefore a big advantage when we will bring fresh airplanes home from the summer of Arizona to a little worse and colder weather in a few years. (I live there and know what I am talking about).

Supersonic speed

Most importantly, however, is that a machine that is easy to use gives the flyer more profits to make good combat technical decisions. Good decisions needed to solve the assignment. In other words, we get more "tactical currency" out of the weapon platform when the pilot does not plunder with the plane.

I want to tell you about another impression from my first flight in F-35, and that's the F-35 is a fast machine. The F-35 keeps effortlessly high speed. Unlike the F-16, this also applies to weapon loads. The machine is so "happy" that we need to make new F-35 pilots especially aware of this. The F-35 is upset if you do not follow. Therefore, it's not uncommon for a flyer without thinking it ends up in supersonic speed!

In addition to being a fast machine, the F-35 is fast to accelerate - it accelerates well. It is clear in close combat. I can use the speed in exchange for a temporary, stronger swing when I maneuver compared to the opponent. Nonetheless, if I slam a little bit and give the plane a break, I quickly get back the speed. I can thus vary between crab and full sprint in a short period of time.

«El Gato»

I have been introduced to "El Gato" during the fall when he learned to fly F-35 with us. "Gato" is an experienced F / A-18 pilot who has gone through the weapons schools of both the US Marine Corps and the US Navy, also known as Top Gun. Let me quote El Gato, after his first flight in F-35A: "... it flies like a hornet, but with four engines ...". (In comparison, the F-18 usually has two engines). Or to quote one of my Italian colleagues, after his first taste of F-35: "I did not think performance like this was possible." (So, in positive terms.)

Is it important to fly quickly? Do not we have missiles flying quickly on our behalf? With an elongate country it is an advantage that we can keep high speed over a long period of time. We can fly from Ørland to Banak on the hour, and still have the opportunity to solve a mission. (We can not do that with F-16). Or, we can quickly be on the spot to help our colleagues on the hill or at sea.

In addition, high speed and high altitude are important in air combat. For the same reason as spydkasters take slopes, we take a run-by-plane with the plane; We give the missile higher total energy, which means more range. More reach means that it's even more difficult for the opponent to "turn" away when the shot comes.


A controversial theme among (other) bloggers with strong opinions has been F-35 in close combat, or "dogfight". Many critics have been one-sided negative to F-35 in relation to air-to-air role, and especially in relation to close combat. I've read that F-35 is "a grape", "a turkey" and "a failure". (Ie, negative). I want to ask a counter-question? Is it relevant to talk about "dogfight"? I think many people exaggerate the importance of close combat. My experience is that "dogfight" rarely involves two planes that actively fight against each other. More often it is that a party has an overview while the other unsuspecting becomes a victim. The victim is shot down without trying for a defensive maneuver. I think we'd rarely be the victim with F-35 but rather the one who surprises the opponent.

I think many people exaggerate the importance of close combat.

Regardless of the background, let's assume that the "dogfight" is a fact. A year ago, we had so far begun to learn how we fought best match F-35. Now we have come a long way, and I have a different impression than the critics: I have found that F-35 is a maneuverable machine that causes serious trouble for F-16 and others when we meet in close combat. My experience is that it is easier to keep an offensive starting point, but also; that it's easier to turn a neutral or defensive starting point into offensive. What does this mean: If I were to be surprised at F-35, I still turn the fight to my advantage. If I find you first, the F-35 hangs like a coat and you do not get lost alive.

One slaughtered »

I would like to emphasize an important difference from F-16 in this context. F-16 on the fly show is maneuverable and impressive, but F-16 with war equipment is "a beaten one". The F-35 on its side is maneuverable and fast also with war equipment. (The first time I flew with F-35 internal weapon load, I can honestly say I did not mark it on the machine.)

A battlefield in the air is a dangerous arena, which we want to keep away. F-35's greatest strength is clear in the ability to find and kill others before they have the opportunity to take back. Nonetheless, if the missiles should fail, if I'm out of missiles or if the opponent has the perfect remedy; then I know that the F-35 is maneuverable and powerful enough to bite off in close combat as well as any other fighter plane out there.

Ninja in felt slippers

Before I go into the core of the lecture, I want to talk about low-key and sensors. Some have claimed that signature is almost something mythical, or at least a vulnerable concept, which at best has limited validity. My experience is something else. The reference is mainly to have flown to F-16 in scenarios where F-16 had Ground Control Intercept. What happens then? Well, for a long time, I know exactly where the formation with F-16 is and I have plenty of time to plan the attack. F-16, on its part, relies on being led all the way back to us, whether they are able to take back. Nevertheless, the outcome is that all F-16 are shot down without fading off a single shot in our direction. There is nothing ridiculous about this. It's a completely uneven match. It is as though you were being attacked on the streets by a camouflage-guided ninja in filthy trousers, jumping out from behind a bush and striking a bat. It's rough, brutal and totally surprising. Another experience is that we manage to sneak out undetected past the formation with F-16, if we wish. I have taken myself a little while I "list" me past our opponents in this way. It gives a special sense of supremacy: knowing that I can shoot you now, or now, but I do not. At the same time as the opponent can not recover.

It is as though you were being attacked on the streets by a camouflage-guided ninja in filthy trousers, jumping out from behind a bush and striking a bat.

Is this just bargain or do I have a more important point? I think the combination of good sensors, low signature and high performance makes us better able to both solve the assignment and come home again. In other words, bag and bag! We get more bang for the buck with F-35 than with F-16 (also) in air-to-air

A complex arena

Before I move on, I warn against well-meaning critics its often binary interpretation: Air Combat is a complex arena. My experience is that the world is not black and white, that a single performance parameter, a single requirement specification or a loose extract of a test report does not tell the whole story and that human being is probably the most important factor. "It depends" is an answer I often hear in discussion with other pilots. There is more to say about the F-35 in the air-to-air role, but we have to take it to the bar (where unrestricted boasts belongs).

I have tried to give you my user perspective on F-35. I hope I was clear that the F-35 is fatal in the air-to-air role. I'm sure (because I'm sure I would not like to meet F-35 in the air myself). Therefore, I also think the ordering of the subject was a bit frustrating: now it's time to believe us when over and over again, telling us that the F-35 is effective in the air-to-air role. We must move on in the debate and address the most important question; How should we choose to use F-35 in the counter-air role? As long as our political and military leaders do not have a definite answer to this, we do not have any five-generation Defense!

Control and alert chain

Norwegian military doctrine has had a strategic defensive and tactically offensive ambition. Strategically defensive is little controversial. Nor has there been much discussion about how we might try to act tactically offensive. I think that's because we've had little real ability to actually act offensive. Poor survival means that the Armed Forces can not follow an offensive line with F-16. At least not in the face of an advanced opponent. Our old F-16 is particularly vulnerable to modern air defense systems, which in practice shut the airspace for us. F-16's poor sensor capacity means that our F-16 is also fully dependent on the control and alert chain to be effective on mission.

Now it's time to believe us when we go again saying that the F-35 is effective in the air-to-air role.

Because the F-16 is so dependent on support from the control and warning chain, our F-16 has traditionally been "tight link" in terms of engagement rules and authority to deliver weapons. In practice, the pilot has received approval to engage each air goal. There are good reasons to keep a tight link, not least to avoid unwanted political and strategic consequences, but also to avoid engaging other own forces.

Unlike the F-16, the F-35 has a robust ability to identify air targets on its own and with great accuracy. Before I move on, I track a bit to emphasize an important prerequisite: That we have an updated and validated electronic library in our F-35. The library describes both friendly and hostile radio transmitters of all kinds, such as radar. Set on the tip; An inaccurate electronic library causes the F-35 pilot to shoot down the passenger plane instead of the enemy combat plane. Therefore, I think the priority of just programming lab was an invaluable step towards a five-generation defense.

More authority for the cockpit

Back on track. Assuming a good electronic library and robust ability to identify goals on their own; Therefore, in a full war situation, greater authority should be delegated to the F-35 pilot. If strategic and operational management does not dare to delegate authority to "cockpit", and inverting our old action pattern, where the control and alert chain "approves" every shot, we will always be less effective than possible with the F-35. We will operate a fifth generation weapon platform in a third generation Defense.

Greater delegation of authority to "cockpit" also means that the control and warning chain has a slightly different role. There is less emphasis on control and more emphasis on alert than we are used to. (F-16 must be "rented" completely into the boxing box, if there will be any match. F-35 finds the road itself from the closet.) Since the F-35 only needs to be led in the "general direction" we usually have little need to talk with the checkers on the ground. An updated situation picture, showing land, sea and air targets, and shared with data links, is probably all that is needed. ("Voice Control" was the British already successful during the Battle of Britain.)

Greater trust from management

Another likely challenge for our command and control device is that F-35 abruptly can be the only sensor that follows an air goal. This may be because the control and warning chain does not have sensor coverage in the area or because the sensors are broken. Nevertheless, it brings again the issue of delegation of authority. Perhaps we have no other data on this goal, but the F-35 has identified it as hostile, with high levels of reliability. What decision should boss NAOC take? Should he be part of the process? Can he be part of the process, if the goal is volatile - do you think a cross-missile - or if F-35 is out of line coverage?

Delegation of greater authority to the "cockpit" requires high trust from senior management (which will surely look after the F-35 squadrons as a sphere of "strategic" fenomenals and lieutenants). Continuing good education lays the foundation for trust and delegation, but I doubt that education alone will bring us to the fullest. I think it's important that senior management takes an active role and engages to learn and fully understand what F-35 brings. This understanding is essential for managers to dare to rely on system F-35. Without a greater degree of delegation, we will hardly be able to fully utilize the F-35.


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Unread post13 Mar 2018, 16:22

Your link doesn't lead directly to it.

The article is actually from June 2017. ... ft-rollen/


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Unread post13 Mar 2018, 17:28

Maj Dolby Hanche wrote:In F-35, we sometimes prefer low-speed close combat because the F-35 can be reliably controlled at lower speeds than I am used to.

Eagle, Viper and Raptor pilots all be like ":shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:"
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Unread post13 Mar 2018, 18:07

RNAF = Royal Netherlands Air Force
RNoAF = Royal Norwegian Air Force

Just for everyone's information. Easy to get confused.
Former Flight Control Technican - We keep'em flying


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Unread post13 Mar 2018, 20:59

This isn't new, why is it being brought up again?


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Unread post13 Mar 2018, 22:10

lbk000 wrote:This isn't new, why is it being brought up again?

I posted this like in June.
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