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F-35's AF1 and AF2 fly together during test flights in this May 11, 2010 handout photo.Tom Reynolds/The Canadian Press

A U.S. defence and foreign affairs think tank released a comprehensive report today suggesting the oft-maligned F-35 might not meet the performance standards of current fighters, including Canada's CF-18s.

The National Security Network, a non-profit foreign policy group based in Washington, D.C., is the latest organization to raise questions about the stealth fighter program, which is over budget and behind schedule in the U.S.

The report compares F-35's operational capabilities with the jets it is intended to replace, including the F-16, F-18 and A-10, and in each case it comes up short.

The group urges the Obama administration to do a "serious" reassessment of the program and determine whether there are alternatives out there.

Researchers noted that matching the F-16's manoeuvrability was a minimum design requirement, yet they conclude the older jet is capable of going faster and enjoys better wing-loading performance, another aspect that's critical for speed.

The F-16 is not considered as manoeuvrable as the F-18.

The Harper government put its purchase of 65 F-35s on hold after being accused by the auditor general of fudging the price tag and not doing sufficient research, and plans to extend the life of the CF-18s to 2025.