Wednesday, September 16, 2015

F-35. Diminished expectations.

via National Defense.
The F-35's “ability, stealth-wise, to penetrate contested airspace unobserved gives it an advantage over everybody else,” said Gen. Herbert "Hawk" Carlisle at the Air Force Association’s 2015 Air and Space Conference.
The aircraft is not a maneuverability airplane. That’s not what it was designed for, he said. “It’s a multi-role airplane that has an incredibly comprehensive, powerful, integrated avionics and sensor suite. It has incredible electronic warfare in both [electronic countermeasure] and [electronic counter-countermeasure] capability.”
Seems like Axe's article about the F-35 getting curb stomped by a two seat F-16 with wing tanks isn't such garbage after all.

But we've known the truth about the F-35 since 2008.  Remember the Rand Report?
The secret Rand report for the Pentagon wrote, “Inferior acceleration, inferior climb, inferior sustained turn capability. Also has lower top speed. Can’t turn, can’t climb, can’t run.” The military analysts explained that the F-35 would function better as a long-range, mobile missile platform rather than a fighter. The computer models showed that once the jets had lost their element of surprise and launched all their missiles, remaining enemy fighters had no problem clearing them from the sky. The result was the loss of the battle and China’s successful invasion of Taiwan.
So we've known that the F-35 is garbage as an air superiority fighter for almost two decades now.  The only problem is that since the Pentagon didn't acknowledge it and defense reporters didn't dig into the story, the public has been fooled into believing the talking points that the plane is as maneuverable as the F-16/18.

What is a new revelation (at least to me) is how the General is wording the comparison to the A-10.  From the same article...
In terms of close-air support, Carlisle said the F-35 will be highly capable once it finishes its Block 4 software update, and the next-generation electro-optical targeting system has been fully fleshed out. “When you look at what Block 4 is going to be when we get to that in the F-35, then we’re getting to a no kidding CAS platform.”
During the Red Flag exercise this summer at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, the service tested the plane in a close-air support role. “It did exceedingly well in that it could penetrate airspace that other airplanes couldn’t, and it could use electronic warfare to defeat adversaries and defeat surface-to-air capability while at the same time protecting its own sensor suite,” Carlisle said.
He's talking in terms of close air support.  He's talking in terms of having to provide that close air support in an environment where the US doesn't have air superiority.

Am I reading too much into this or did the good General just admit that air superiority is no longer guaranteed and air DOMINANCE is just a pipe dream (notice that the USAF no longer uses that term)?

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