Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter—which is built in three versions—recently completed its developmental test phase and is operational with the U.S. Air Force and Marine Corps. Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy will soon join the ranks of JSF operators with the F-35C carrier variant, which is scheduled to become operational later this year or early 2019.
The answer is that the F-35 cannot match the F-22 Raptor as an air superiority fighter—it was never designed as such. The U.S. Air Force’s original plan was for the F-22 to be its high-end air superiority fighter while the F-35 was designed to be primarily an air-to-ground strike aircraft, but one which could defend itself.
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