The Chair Force has been trying to kill the A-10 since it was born; why would ANYONE believe that this test won't be designed to play to the F-35 strengths and A-10 weaknesses?
The tests will likely be engineered carefully:
- transit speed: likely they'll have a number of targets far apart, to point to the A-10 slow top speed. What they WON'T have is targets that are camouflaged or hard to find (like real life) because that would require loitering and slow passes.
- few targets: sure, the F35 can probably put 2 or 4 guided bombs in a precise 2' circle. But it can't carry anywhere near the payload of the A10 (nor retain it's vaunted stealthiness if it carries external stores) to deal with target after target after target.
- There may a single gun-specific target that the F35 can cheerfully spatter with it's 4 seconds' worth of ammunition. The A10s 30+ seconds of ammunition will not be needed.
- Ground fire - not sure how they're going to test that, but that's a critical value of the A10, it was built to fly over (and survive) the most intensive Cold-War Soviet Armor Wave attacks. Iraqi ground fire proved this time and again that the A-10 was astonishingly rugged.
- Air to Air combat: unlikely they'll give the A-10 a couple of Sidewinders it would carry in uncertain airspace, but in any case, they'll have a "strike" by some Red Force aggressors to "prove" the A-10 can't hold it's own in air-to-air (never mind that in actual deployment, they should be being covered by...F-35s)
- Replaceability: The A10 in 2015 dollars is just under $20 million. The F35 is $100 million. Maybe have FIVE A-10s simultaneously completing courses while 1 F-35 has to cover them all as well? Yeah, ha ha ha, that's not going to happen.
This will just be a Potemkin USAF test to "prove" the F-35 is as capable as they say.
Tell you what: let the ARMY design the test. Then we'll see.