Theres definitly truth to that. The F-22 is essentially a "what if we modernized an F-15" aircraft.It's designed for the strike fighter role. it needs to gain altitude fast to respond to incoming, unexpected threats, and to run down any such threats before they get to target. Long patrol loiter time is secondary. The F-35 was essentially the same concept applied to the F-16 airframe, sort of. The F-16 origionally was designed as a concept by a pilot in the airforce, amid much opposition, during the time when fighter aircraft were growing steadily bigger. The designer took the approach of making a very small aircraft, with a very large engine, with speed and manuverability being primary to all other considerations, and it worked pretty well. Unfortunatly the single engine gives the F-16 the worst crash rate of all U.S. fighter aircraft since the brewster buffalo, but it was cheap and effective, and purchasable in mass quantities to support the frontline F-15's. The F-18 was a similar concept, origionally designed to support the F-14 tomcat. The current F-18e superhornet basically replaces the tomcat entirely until the F-35C is cleared for duty.
Anyways, under the existing US forces model, the F-35 didn't need to be a better fighter aircraft than the F-22, we just needed lots of them and they needed to be particularily manouverable. What happened though, is our F-22 fleet got cut below the bone. There are presently near 500 F-15's in service at all locations worldwide with the airforce, They gaurd our forward air bases, our coastlines and borders, and the middle of the country in the event the outer perimeter is penetrated. They are parceled out in squadrons of 6 or so aircraft, with a reserve of maybe 10% for mechanical downtime. Thats roughly 80 bases, cities, or other key locations effectivly protected, spread out in parcels where they can effectivly support the other squadrons in the event of a point attack. 80% of the F-15 fleet is nearing the end of its structural lifespan, without completely rebuilding the aircraft.
There are only 187 F-22's.
That simply is not enough aircraft to protect the area required, unless you believe some magical force multiplication bullsh*t about the aircraft being worth 6 of any other aircraft on the planet forever, and no one will ever upgrade to match them. Eventually, the focus will be drones to supplement them, but right now, the drone interceptor program is decades away from being a reality. That or maybe a new round of F-22's or something similar.
In the mean time, the F-35 is being proposed as the aircraft to fill the gap. So fair or unfair, it is being asked to fill the role of the F-22 in at least 400 spots, which means that measuring the F-35 against the F-22 suddenly becomes a major concern. It shouldn't be a major concern, because the F-16 was always a very nimble and capable aircraft, and the F-35 is supposed to be a follow on to that. The problem was in this case they lost sight of the design philosophy that made the F-16 such a success in some areas. They're trying to make the aircraft do too many things, on the cheap. Did we need a replacement for the Harrier? absolutly Did we need a stealthier F-16 replacement? sure, since the F-16's are nearing their structural limits as well. Did we need a carrier version of the F-35? We already had an F-22 carrier variant in the works, which given that if you are launching off a carrier, and lose your only engine, you are flat out dead, was probably a much better decision than an F-35C, but whatever. The problem is, those three things all should be seperate aircraft designs. Not to mention the idiotic idea of trying to replace the A-10's with a high speed, no armor fighter aircraft (hasn't stopped them from trying with the F-16's though either I suppose.) Trying to make all three square pegs fit in that one round hole has driven costs up enourmasly, whatever the origional intent was. Part commonality down the line might result in some savings, but there are compromises being made that I think probably shouldn't be made, especially on the carrier variant, to keep overall weight light enough so the F-35B is effective.
I get the stealth aspect, and that sacrifices in manouverability and even top speed are worth it in the era of super long range standoff smart missiles, and the F-18E super hornet, cool though it is, shouldn't have been built, but eventually someone is going to create detection measures that mitigate stealth. The amount of computational power anyone on the planet has access to, the cheap abundance of sensors and bandwidth, and the fact that aircraft disturb the atmosphere when they travel through it means that someone with enough dedicated sites could theoretically set up some sort of "sosus" style network to detect incoming stealth aircraft simply by engine noise, air disturbances, or magnetic signature. We aren't there yet, and with advances in visual active camoflague we might keep ahead of the curve, but its definitly an aspect we can't rely on too much. If we assume they can't see us, when we find out they really can, we're screwed.
Not putting a standard F-18 Tailhook on the F-35 in a retractable gear housing was a stupid decision though. I think we can all agree on that.