Retired Marine Corps Major Explains the Psychological Effect the F-35 Will Have on Opposing Pilots [VIDEO]

After long delays and a production cost way over budget, many government officials and taxpayers alike were hesitant about the need for the fifth-generation F-35 stealth jet. But now, as the aircraft is finally airborne, the critics are starting to come around – especially the pilots who have gone up against the plane in dogfights designed to show what the jet is capable of.

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Retired US Marine Corps Maj. Dan Flatley has been one of the F-35’s strongest supporters. He recalled a time when he went up against a superior jet and the psychological impact an opposing pilot feels when he knows he’s outmatched – the same feeling a pilot will have going against the new F-35 jet.

When speaking to Business Insider, Flatley discussed his time as an F-18 pilot opposing the new F-22. He said he’ll never forget the fear he felt when he realized he had no way of fighting a jet he couldn’t see.

“I remember indelibly the moment in which the AWAC (airborne early warning and control plane) called out to me that there was a Raptor [an F-22 stealth fighter] in front of me at very close range. That made me uncomfortable,” he said. “I had no way of targeting him, no way of defending myself,” he added.

Flatley uses this story to provide the pilots he’s training in the F-35 some insight on what the opposition will be feeling when they go head to head. The F-35 is all seeing, and at the same time, unseen – a scary realization for a pilot.

At some point, Flatley says the legacy planes and their pilots begin to think that “everything they see becomes the F-35 out there.” Flatley explained, “Every radar hit, every communication is about the stealth jet. They want to illuminate or eliminate a threat they can’t handle.”

A pilot facing a more advanced jet is not relying on skill or experience. Instead, it’s all about the technology, or lack thereof.

“I’ve seen guys in F-18s turn directly in front of me and show me their tails cause they have no idea I’m there,” Flatley said after a dogfight two months ago.

Inevitably, the F-35 will rule the sky because of its technology and its fear factor. “People are so hellbent on shooting down the stealth fighter that they invariably make mistakes that I can exploit.”

The F-35 may not be the fastest, the most elusive, or even have the best weapon range, but what it does have is the ability to strike fear into any opposing pilot.