, United States Air Force
In his assertion that Congress should cut the F-35 fighter, Leroy Gallegos uses the argument that the F-35 "... maneuvers worse than bombers that got wiped out over Vietnam ..." ("Sequestration victims," 22 July) He doesn't name the "experts" he attributes this declaration to, but as a former B-52 pilot who served two combat tours in Vietnam I have to disagree on two points.
First, anyone familiar with aircraft realizes it is ridiculous to compare the maneuverability of a small agile fighter with a large heavy bomber. I have flown both these types of aircraft, and the fighter always wins in maneuverability. The second point I disagree with is that bombers got "wiped out" over Vietnam. In the eight-year conflict in Vietnam, a total of 17 B-52s were lost in combat. This can hardly be construed as being "wiped out." Such a low attrition rate is astounding, especially when considering the B-52 flew thousands of sorties and tens of thousands of hours of combat. Perhaps Gallegos has fallen victim to the Vietnam propaganda where that country still claims to have shot down over 500 B-52s during what they call the American War. Of course this claim is absurd since the U.S. never had that many B-52s to start with.