An A-10C versus F-35A experiment could be edifying, if designed well.
and Bloomberg have been reporting of late that the Pentagon’s Office of Test & Evaluation (OT&E) is planning a series of head-to-head close air support tests between the A-10C and the F-35A
. USAF Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh had previously called that “a silly exercise
”; the Lightning II, he insisted, is a combat aircraft for the “entire battlespace,” not just close air support. POGO shortly thereafter took advantage of its Google search engine to play gotcha with his “conflicting statements
” on the issue. Fairly, though, the general might have used an analogy from the 1920s. In a competitive gunnery exercise between a battleship and an aircraft carrier, the battleship will win. But that doesn’t tell us to buy the battleship—just not to wind up like HMS Glorious
. Unless designed carefully, such tests may not tell us much at all. So, if we were going to design such a field experiment, build a model, or hold a wargame, what would we want to know?