A lot of the popular press seemed to be followers Pierre Sprey. While he was a major participant in the design of the F-16, he didn't like the final product, the F-16A and he absolutely hated the F-15A.
Now he has been mouthing off about the F-35A and the blind sheep press gobbles up his words as though it was gospel. In a 1V1 fight between the F-16C Blk 42 and the F-35A, the F-35A participated to gather information about the F-35A, not strictly "whos the tough guy on the block". Under many situations the F-16 won. Situations were set up to evaluate offensive and defensive, not necessarily "real world". In these encounters, the F-16
The F-35A is a new plane and the pilots had less than 100 flying hours in it, it performs differently and is designed to operate differently than previous fighters. The F-16's pilot had more than 1,500 flying hours. It takes a long while to learn how best to use your fighter in combat. In this situation pilot experience plays a decisive factor.
The fact that it has lost all its 1V1s in itself dose not damn the plane. In some exercises of 4V4s F-16s Vs F-35s, the F-16s did not make it the merge! The situation radically changed, with the F-35A completely dominating the F-16s. The stealth, the data exchange and, complete situational awareness allowed the F-35As to dominate.
The was a "Green Flag" (an Red Flag type exercise) earlier this year to test new tactics to provide air support for ground troops, something the extremely important for the USAF and USMC. New tactics were used and found to be effective. I can only hope they are as effective physically and psychology. As bad as the A-10 for friendly ground troops it is also a terror weapon to the bad guys. I hope the F-35A & B become terror weapons also but, attacking from altitudes above 20Kft the enemy never knows when they will be killed. I know the USMC's Harrier is respected around the world for its ability to support troops, yet it is not considered a terror weapon like the A-10 is.
One thing to keep in mind about the F-35 and the reason so many countries are waiting for the F-35 (and some other countries are trying to make their own version of the F-35) is that maintenance cost over their 20yr. life span is that many of the avionics are designed the life of the plane or later be upgraded! The flying cost is ≈$11,000 for three hours!! Today many fighters flying currently cost that much per hour.
Those who say the F-35 program is the most costly, over budget and, most delayed military program have forgotten the USS Sea Wolf, the TFX / F-111! Factor in inflation and see what the results are.
I took the effort to to find a couple of URLs that show some aspects of the F-35, URLs;
F-35 Lightning II Busting Myths
Why The F-35 Vs F-16C Article Is Garbage!