F-35A Records 20-to-1 Kill Ratio at Red Flag Exercise

February 20, 2017

The F-35A far exceeded expectations at the recent U.S. Air Force Red Flag exercise, recording a 20-to-1 kill ratio.

“It’s giving the airmen something they never had before,” Tech Sgt Robert James said about the jet. “It’s giving the maintainer information to help them do their job faster and easier while making the Air Force more streamlined.”

The team at Hill AFB, Utah, took 13 F-35As to participate in the Red Flag exercise. While there, the Hill team faced the most advanced aggressor aircraft and simulated threats available, and the F-35’s performance “far exceeded expectations,” according to F-35 Program Executive Officer Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan.

Along with the aforementioned kill ratio and maintenance rate, the jets executed unprecedented weapons targeting exercises.

“I flew a mission the other day where our four-ship formation of F-35As destroyed five surface-to-air threats in a 15-minute period without being targeted once,” said Maj. James Schmidt, a former A-10 pilot. “It’s pretty cool to come back from a mission where we flew right over threats knowing they could never see us.”

The F-35A’s participation in this event marked the first deployment to Red Flag for the F-35A and the first large F-35 movement since the Air Force declared the jet combat ready in August 2016.

“After almost every mission, we shake our heads and smile, saying 'We can't believe we just did that',” Maj. Schmidt said. “We flew right into the heart of the threat and were able to bring all of our jets back out with successful strikes. It's like we hit the 'I Believe' button again after every sortie.”

Learn more about the F-35A’s success at Red Flag.