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Why Nothing Can Stop the F-35

F-35
U.S. Air Force Maj. Kristin "BEO" Wolfe, F-35A Lightning II Demonstration Team pilot and commander, taxis into Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., July 1, 2021. The F-35 Demo Team flew out of JBLM, headlining both the Gig Harbor Wings-and-Wheels and Tacoma Freedom Fair air shows for the 4th of July weekend, showcasing the advanced capabilities of the F-35 to the Pacific Northwest. (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Kip Sumner)

Yes, the F-35 is one expensive stealth fighter. And yet, there is a reason so many nations around the world are clamoring to get their hands on them – Lots of ink has been spilled on why the F-35 isn’t worth the astounding money the Pentagon has spent or is planning to spend on it. To be sure, when an aircraft program ends up costing approximately $1.7 trillion, any concerns are justified, and expectations should be sky-high. But it is also worth exploring what makes the F-35 different and why it is so popular around the world despite its big price tag.

The F-35: A Popular Aircraft 

5th generation multi-role fighter jet, the F-35 Lighting II is the most advanced plane in the world. The aircraft comes in three different variants, each designed for a different operating environment.

The F-35A is the conventional version that can take off and land normally from a runway. This is the most widely used or purchased iteration.

With a short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) design, the F-35B was designed to take off and land like a helicopter before transitioning to jet mode in the air. This version can take off from extremely small surfaces and is a great option to put on helicopter carriers or small islands.

Lastly, the F-35C was designed to operate from aircraft carriers and has a more robust structure and landing mechanism.

In total, the Pentagon alone plans to purchase more than 2,500 F-35s of all versions, with the Air Force taking the lead with an intended target of about 1,700 F-35As, followed by the Marine Corps with about 410 F-35Bs and F-35Cs, with the Navy bringing up the rear with about 270 F-35Cs.

Today, many countries fly or intend to fly it (the U.S., U.K., Australia, Canada, Japan, Israel, Italy, Norway, Denmark, Poland, Singapore, Finland Belgium, South Korea, and the Netherlands). Most of these countries are NATO member states, and by 2035, there will be more than 500 NATO F-35s in Europe to deter and deal with Russian aggression.

Despite its troubled technical past and high purchase and maintenance price tag, the F-35 is the most advanced fighter jet on the plant and a quite desirable aircraft. In addition to the 14 countries that already operate and will be flying it in the future, Spain, Greece, and the Czech Republic are also looking into getting some F-35s.

The F-35: A Capable Aircraft 

According to Lockheed Martin, the aircraft manufacturer, the F-35 is capable of six mission sets.

Strategic Attack: For example, taking out Russian S-400 anti-aircraft systems in Crimea so follow on aircraft can dominate the battlefield and achieve crucial air superiority.

Close Air Support: for instance, supporting a Navy SEAL platoon in danger of being overrun by al-Shabaab terrorists in Somalia.

Air Superiority: for example, shooting down a Chinese J-10 fighter jet over the South China Sea and clearing the way for B-52 bombers to hit targets.

Electronic Warfare: for instance, jamming a Russian radar station close to the Baltics to allow older U.S. fighter jets to bomb it undetected.

Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR): for example, flying above a compound that contains a high-value target in Tehran and providing a special operations element on the ground with an accurate picture of what is going in there and in the surrounding area.

Suppression Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) and Destruction Enemy Air Defense(DEAD): for instance, taking out a North Korean radar station outside of Pyongyang to allow for an incoming flight of F-15s that is targeting a military airfield in the vicinity.

But what makes the F-35 unique isn’t its ability to perform the above missions, which other older aircraft can do too, although each with a varying degree of effectiveness, but its ability to play “captain” and organize and dominate the tactical fight.

The F-35’s groundbreaking sensors and data link capabilities allow the aircraft to be an airborne quarterback that can quickly take data from several different sources, such as the ground, sea, space, or air, and pass them along to other aircraft or units in the battlefield.

For example, an F-35’s sensors can receive radar indications from a U.S. Navy ship in the South China Sea and guide older aircraft, such as the F-15E or F-16D, to approaching Chinese J-10 fighters. This ability to make older platforms deadlier by showing them where targets are that otherwise, the 4th generation fighters wouldn’t have picked up so easily, makes the F-35 a force multiplier.

1945’s New Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate.

1945’s Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist with specialized expertise in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Raymond Core

    May 16, 2022 at 12:06 am

    Nothing can stop them except they are so fragile that 30% cannot fly on any given day.

  2. Error404

    May 16, 2022 at 3:53 am

    Absolutely nothing can stop f-35. And nobody, too. Except Erdogan.He stopped f-35 by buying S-400 air defense missiles.

  3. xtron

    May 16, 2022 at 8:24 am

    the 1.7 trillion price tag quoted here is extreamly miss leading. that is the estimated cost of both purchase and operation over the 20+ year operating life. would you buy a car that cost $150K for a daily driver?? but that’s how much it cost to buy AND OPERATE the average car for 10-15 years.
    not worth the price?? remember, the f-111(the original swing wing), the f117, the m-1 tank, and even the m-116 rifle were all, at first labeled worthless pieces of junk, but went on to become important, even critical parts of our military. and how much of regan’s unworkable “starwars” program do we have in service, or nearly there today??

    • Alej

      May 16, 2022 at 10:28 am

      Worse than the price tag is the affirmative action womens’ lib crap coming out of the military to feminize it… maternity flight suits ?

      Jesus Christ ! !

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