On May 22nd the BBC News website published an article titled “F-35 stealth fighter sees first combat, in Israeli operation” (discussed here) in which readers were told that:
“The F-35, from the world’s priciest military programme, has been criticised both for cost and combat effectiveness.
Last year, Defence Secretary James Mattis had to defend the programme after then President-elect Donald Trump tweeted criticising its huge price, said to be close to $100m (£74m) per plane. […]
The US has certainly put a lot of faith in a programme that is expected to run through to 2070 and is projected to cost $1.5tn by then.
However, it has also come in for heavy criticism and not just over the price.
An influential military blog in 2015 reported that the F-35 lacked manoeuvrability and was unable to beat an F-16 in a dogfight. It was also reported to have cockpit visibility issues.
Analysts say the emphasis on stealth capabilities may have compromised air-to-air effectiveness.”
“Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson described the jets as “game-changing”.
“These formidable fighters are a national statement of our intent to protect ourselves and our allies from intensifying threats across the world,” he said.”
The report included a link to an additional article on the same topic written by the BBC’s defence correspondent Jonathan Marcus and titled “Why the RAF’s new F-35 jets matter” in which the plane was described as follows:
“The F-35B, according to Douglas Barrie, senior Fellow for Military Aerospace at the IISS, “is the first aircraft that will enter British service designed from the outset to be low-observable, that is stealthy. This provides greater survivability than previous aircraft designs.”
Aviation analyst Justin Bronk of RUSI agrees, noting that the aircraft represents “a step change in the RAF’s ability to conduct operations against states with modern surface to air missile defences – such as Russia’s S-400.
It can conduct strike missions and act as a superb intelligence gathering and target-acquisition asset in a way which would be extremely risky for existing fighters like Typhoon.”
The F-35 is not just able to find and hit targets itself. Its sensors can suck up information and pass this to other aircraft or combat systems, giving a whole new level of situational awareness in complex air operations. The presence of the F-35 effectively ups the capabilities of older aircraft engaged in the same mission.”
While the article does refer to the high cost of the aircraft, unlike in the May 22nd report no mention is made of doubts concerning “combat effectiveness”, lack of “manoeuvrability”, “cockpit visibility” or “air-to-air effectiveness”.
Apparently the BBC’s portrayal of the aircraft depends upon which country is buying and operating it.