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Overloaded for tactical Strike?
That was the prime role of the NATO requirement for the aircraft. If it was that unsuitable (and I wouldn't argue with that) then it says a lot for Lockheed salesmen, or perhaps US pressure? Or indeed, the alternates offered!
Not to thread drift too much, but...
- the J79 was hardly useless. It was a fantastic engine then, and is still in operation today.
- the downward firing ejection seat was corrected on later models.
- in the hands of skilled, experienced pilots the 104's loss rate wasn't that bad, in fact better than that of some other types. The West Germans overloaded their planes, flying them at low altitudes in a tactical strike role which the plane could handle, yet which it wasn't ideal for. They also put tyro pilots in the cockpit, something the USAF, Canadians, etc., generally didn't do.
- Being able to intercept U-2s from above was a useful ability!!!
- It possessed a crude, early version of supercruise, and its alleged short range was usually offset by the speed with which it could get to an area of operations.
- Overall, its a much maligned plane which, when used properly by experienced pilots, was far more lethal and effective than is generally realized.
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