That’s an apples with oranges comparison and for sure doesn’t tell not even close the whole story.
For starters, a F-35 with 50% internal fuel still has a longer range than a F/A-18 with 100% internal fuel (and without external fuel tanks) while the F-35 with a 100% internal fuel has much, much longer range (much more than twice the range) of a F/A-18 with 100% internal fuel.
So comparing the F/A-18 with 100% internal fuel with a F-35 with also 100% internal fuel is NOT a fair comparison since the F-35 flies much, much further having of course the “fuel weight penalty” as the offset (the quantity of fuel that the F-35 carries is brutally superior to the F/A-18).
So a fairer comparison would be a F-35 with 50% fuel with a F/A-18 with 100% fuel and even in this regard the F-35 would still have a better range (although again and obviously not as big has if it was carrying 100% fuel instead). In this configuration and assuming that both aircraft are unarmed, the F/A-18 would have a thrust to weight ratio of 1.04 while the F-35A would have a thrust to weight ratio of 1.11!
And note that such comparison is with a F/A-18C with the General Electric F404-GE-402 engines which is the best Hornet variant when is comes to thrust to weight ratio.
So in “equal footing” or similar configuration the F-35 namely the F-35A, has a better thrust to weight ratio than the F/A-18.
I know the comparison was not perfectly apples to apples and even then thrust to weight does not mean everything. Aerodynamics, drag and engine design all play a role here. I wish someday soon somebody sticks a gopro inside the cockpit and shows us how fast it can go. I’m not holding my breath as I found they are still arguing whether an F-16 can supercruise or not and what supercruise actually means now
And if you add the other stuff such as aerodynamics and drag then the advantage will be even higher and clearer for the F-35 since it can carry weapons internally and as such with no drag penalties while all 4th gen fighter aircraft like for example the F/A-18 will always have to carry weapons and external fuel tanks hanging on the wings which adds tremendous drag which has a tremendous negative impact on aerodynamics.
So basically and above I was comparing a combat ready F-35 with a clean F/A-18, the later of which will never perform any missions configured like this.
I’m on PC. This video showed me how it used to work. I’m below weight in the B variant, even started with less, and the hover mode is not available when the STOVL button is clicked. I’ve run out of ideas for the moment.