Thursday, August 30, 2012

The F-35's unique capabilities make it a game changer

Col. Arthur Tomassetti is a Marine Corps officer and vice commander of the 33rd Fighter Wing, Air Education and Training Command at Eglin Air Force Base.

Col. Tommassetti has been with the F-35 project since the beginning.  So he's seen it go from concept to reality.  And he's well pleased with the results:

"Whatever you want to believe about the F-35 today, we finally built the STOVL airplane we’ve been trying to build for 60 years,” Tomassetti said.

But more importantly, Col. Tommassetti "gets" the importance of the 5th generation concept.  While stealth, performance and survivability are all important, each of those capabilities is enhanced by a unique capability that develops a synergy much greater than the parts.
“The strength of the F-35 isn’t the one airplane and what it can do,” Tomassetti said. “The strength of the F-35 is the group of airplanes and what they can do together.”

This is what many of the critics can't seem to grasp.  This statement points out the big difference in the 5th generation of aircraft as compared to the 4th generation.  Trying to compare a 5th gen fighter with 4th gen standards misses that point.
Col Tomassetti elaborates on the capabilities the F-35 brings to future fights and why it's critical to assess its value based on new criteria:
The potential for cooperation among U.S. armed forces as well as coalition forces all using the F-35 variants is significant. In fact, the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Air Force are working on their own F-35 variants and eight other countries have agreed to join the program.

“In today’s environment, it’s usually not just the Marine Corps by itself,” Tomassetti said. “We’re operating with the Navy, Air Force and coalition partners. What happens when we’re all in F-35s? Now we can all share that information. In terms of coalition warfare, this airplane further increases everyone’s situational awareness to a greater extent than anything we have out there today.”

The F-35’s value is not only in the flying network it creates in the battle space. The F-35 is able to perform the missions of multiple current Marine Corps aircraft, all in one aircraft.

“This is where we talk about a fifth generation airplane versus a fourth generation airplane,” Tomassetti said. “Most of what people want to lock into with fifth generation is stealth, low observable, and the cool pieces of it. That’s great and you want as much of that as you can get. But the other piece of fifth generation is that data link and that networking capability. We used to have F/A 18s go in as the fighter cover and F/A 18s and Harriers go in as the ones that were dropping the bombs and EA-6Bs as support from an electronic attack. All those airplanes were needed to go after one target that was heavily defended. Now, we have four F-35s. They can do the fighter mission; they can do the bombing mission; they can do the electronic attack mission. They can go after that same target with a lot less airplanes.”
That is the difference that continues to be ignored by many when evaluations of the F-35's capabilities are published.  However, without the inclusion of these advanced and unique abilities and capabilities, one gets a very limited and incomplete picture of an aircraft that promises to be a game changer.

1 comment:

  1. We can't wait for them. When will they be delivered to Turkey? In the meantime if you'd like you can see some cool F-35 photos :

    F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Pictures