Dogfighting’s Premature Demise

Stealth and standoff missiles are no guarantee fighter pilots won’t have to dogfight in future engagements or that they will be capable of winning such encounters, said former Air Force Chief of Staff retired Gen. Michael Moseley. “You have to assume that whoever you fight is actually going to oppose you … there’s nothing more of a surprise than if the fight finds you,” he said, speaking at a Mitchel Institute for Aerospace Studies event on July 23. The Air Force made the same arguments in the 1950s and “we built airplanes with no guns … then Mig-19s, Mig-17s kicked our ass” over Vietnam, he reminded the audience. “Don’t ever forget, the F-15 and F-16 were built as maneuvering airplanes,” he said. Of the Air Force’s next generation fighters, Moseley said the F-22 “is effectively invincible” in a maneuvering engagement while the “F-35 will be okay.” He added, “If the fight finds you and you can’t maneuver, or you can’t defend yourself, … I would offer that we have a fundamental failure in understanding actual combat.”