• Scandal: Air Force Orders Airmen To Say ‘Positive Things’ About Troubled F-35

    An Air Force public affairs document marked “not for public use” instructs airmen to praise the troubled F-35 program and to “debunk false narratives” in reports surrounding the F-35.

    The eight-page document explicitly asks airmen to shill for the program by emphasizing “the importance of the Air Force fielding the capability and having the capacity to best support combatant commander needs,” reports David Axe at War is Boring.

    The document bashes reports the aircraft is too expensive, is behind schedule and won’t be able to achieve its mission. And it provides airmen with a list of convenient, ready-to-use answers to rely on when questioned about the F-35.

    Observers have noted a long-standing campaign promoted by Air Force officials to keep the F-35 in high regard and to denigrate any aircraft in the program’s way, such as the A-10.

    In April, the Air Force removed Maj. Gen. James Post III for telling airmen that testifying to Congress about the A-10’s positive attributes was treasonous.

    It took months and enormous public pressure for the Air Force to reach that decision. When the pressure started to die down, GOP Senators John McCain and Kelly Ayotte breathed life back into the process and renewed the call for discipline.

    The Air Force has also manipulated data to make the A-10 appear more dangerous through a careful selection of timeframes and exclusion of important events.

    “The Air Force cherry picked and doctored the data that it released in an attempt to build a false narrative against the A-10,” said Mandy Smithberger, director of the Straus Military Reform Project at The Project on Government Oversight. “The Air Force is resorting to dirty tricks because it can’t make a valid argument against the A-10, proven to be reliable, effective, and a favorite of troops on the ground.”

    A report recently issued by the National Security Network argues the F-35 is incapable of matching the capabilities of foreign fighters—and even older U.S. models. Recent mock comparisons of the F-35 and F-16 not only focused on flight control authority software logic, but also looked at the F-35’s effectiveness at maneuverability. The F-16 was repeatedly found superior.

    Follow Jonah Bennett on Twitter

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