The F-35 has tripped over its own thrusters a number of times. Delays and cost-overruns have constantly plagued the development of the fifth-generation stealth fighter. So have engine fires and crashing computer systems. Most recently, airmen piloting the jet have been suffering hypoxia due to a lack of oxygen.
But perhaps the most damning report of them all is a June 2015 account from a test pilot claiming the F-35 couldn’t hold its own in a mock dogfight against the older F-16. “Even with the limited F-16 target configuration, the F-35A remained at a distinct energy disadvantage for every engagement,” the pilot said at the time. Air Force officials contended that the F-35 is designed to take out a target before a close engagement, but ever since, the Lightning II has had a reputation as a sluggish jet with poor maneuverability.