The U.S. Air Force has begun a much-anticipated competitive fly-off between two controversial warplanes in an effort to determine which is better at supporting ground troops.

The fly-off, required by law under the terms of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, pits the new F-35 stealth fighter against the 1970s-vintage A-10 ground-attack plane.

But one critic says the fly-off is rigged in favor of the F-35, which unlike the A-10 is still in production and supports thousands of American jobs. “They are staging an unpublicized, quickie test on existing training ranges, creating unrealistic scenarios that presuppose an ignorant and inert enemy force, writing ground rules for the tests that make the F-35 look good,” Dan Grazier, a former Marine officer who now works as an analyst for the Washington, D.C.-based Project on Government Oversight.

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Author: By David Axe