Delivered in 1989, the F-16s in this schmaltzy video from 2014 are superior to any F-35 deployed in the same situation. Even if the F-35 was to work to spec.
First, the F-35 costs over $50,000 per flight hour.
These 26 year old jets* achieved 86 percent mission up times on this deployment.
USAF could have done the right thing and continued to buy F-16s up to this very day, and had a lot of capability on hand.
As for F-35 ability, today, almost 14 years after LM won the JSF contract, the aircraft is a disaster. It is likely to get shot out of the sky, it is unreliable and overly expensive to own and operate. The lack of F-35 visibility outside the cockpit is a danger. DAS is low resolution. Find the low-IQ dirt-insurgent in this video. EOTS has a very restricted field of view, even more so than a SNIPER or LITENING pod attached to an F-16. No working gun to date. All in all the F-35 is unsuitable for any mission needed today and into the future.
Another consideration? USMC air, who's main mission is to support troops...and troops in contact, declare F-35 initial operating capability this month. There is no proof you could trust the F-35B to do close air support. None.
Some think DOD leadership knows what it is doing in regard to the tactical aircraft roadmap. But, the evidence doesn't exist.
UPDATE- This story gets better. It appears Block 30/32s (Air National Guard and Reserve) were slated to get the Scorpion helmet mounted integrated targeting system. Where the JTAC says, "Look over here", you look, and your targeting pod also looks in the same place. This was a quick, effective way to give these older aircraft (and A-10C models) this capability. Don't know if the Alabama unit had it for this tour, but, well, you see where this is going. We can modify old F-16s and they have way more utility than the new F-35. (H/T- Someone on the Internet)
*Block 30J jets in the video. Before Block 30D earlier sub-variants had the same intake for both the GE and PW motor. 30Js would be GE motor with the proper "big-mouth" intake to match.
-DOT&E Report: The F-35 Is Not Ready for IOC and Won't Be Any Time Soon
-Time's Battleland - 5 Part series on F-35 procurement - 2013
-Summary of Air Power Australia F-35 points
-Bill Sweetman, Aviation Week and the F-35
-U.S. Government Accounting Office (GAO) F-35 reports
-F-35 JSF: Cold War Anachronism Without a Mission
-History of F-35 Production Cuts
-Looking at the three Japan contenders (maneuverability)
-How the Canadian DND misleads the public about the F-35
-Value of STOVL F-35B over-hyped
-Cuckoo in the nest--U.S. DOD DOT&E F-35 report is out
-6 Feb 2012 Letter from SASC to DOD boss Panetta questioning the decision to lift probation on the F-35B STOVL.
-USAFs F-35 procurement plan is not believable
-December 2011 Australia/Canada Brief
-F-35 Key Performance Perimeters (KPP) and Feb 2012 CRS report
-F-35 DOD Select Acquisition Report (SAR) FY2012
-Release of F-35 2012 test report card shows continued waste on a dud program
-Australian Defence answers serious F-35 project concerns with "so what?"
-Land of the Lost (production cut history update March 2013)
-Outgoing LM F-35 program boss admits to flawed weight assumptions (March 2013)
-A look at the F-35 program's astro-turfing
-F-35 and F-16 cost per flying hour
-Is this aircraft worth over $51B of USMC tac-air funding?
-Combat radius and altitude, A model
-F-35A, noise abatement and airfields and the USAF
-Deceptive marketing practice: F-35 blocks
-The concurrency fraud
-The dung beetle's "it's known" lie
-F-35's air-to-air ability limited
-F-35 Blocks--2006 and today
-The F-35B design is leaking fuel
-ADF's wacky F-35 assumptions
-Gauging performance, the 2008 F-35, Davis dream brief
-Aboriginal brought out as a prop
-Super Kendall's F-35 problem
-LM sales force in pre-Internet era
-History of F-35 engine problems
-JSF hopes and dreams...early days of the Ponzi Scheme
-2002--Australia joins the F-35 program
-Congressional Research Service--Through to FY2013, F-35 has received $83.3B in funding
-F-35 choice gives Dutch a shocking high cost per flight hour
-More indications that the F-35 is a failed program
-From the year 2000. Very insightful. The JSF: One More Card In The House (PDF)
“It will affordable because already there are 3,000 aircraft on the order books.”
—27 June 2002, Air Marshal Houston, Defence press announcement, Australia joins the F-35 program—