A Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II on a training mission over South Carolina. Courtesy Lockheed Martin

The general in charge of the $1 trillion Joint Strike Fighter program predicted the F-35 Lightning II just coming into service with the Marines will be able to beat any opponent for decades.

“Nothing compares to it. I’d put this airplane up against any airplane in the world today, tomorrow and for the next 20 or 30 years and we will come out ahead,” said Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, who was quoted in an article by Aviation Week & Space Technology.

Bogdan was answering criticism that the new jet cannot maneuver as well as some older aircraft, arguing that the F-35’s stealth and advanced electronics will allow it to take down an opponent long before the other plane gets close. “The dogfight will end quickly, if it happens at all,” he said.

In July, the first of the new Lockheed Martin-built jets became operational with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 based in Yuma, AZ.

A total of nearly 2,500 planes are planned in three versions for the Marines, Navy and Air Force, and many foreign countries are buying the fifth-generation aircraft as well. The Air Force version is expected to be operational next year, followed by the Navy version in 2017.

Bogdan spoke at a ceremony marking the rollout of the first of 52 F-35s being built for Norway, a key NATO ally.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.