Thursday, February 7, 2013

F-35: The demonization of stealth

Found a good article that addresses something I've noticed as well when critics get cranked up about the F-35.  The desire to make you think that a) stealth is all the F-35 offers that's new and b) that stealth really isn't that big of a deal.

Of course, they're wrong on both counts.  Paul Manson focuses his critique in Canada, but his arguments aren't about just the Canadian debate, but the debate everywhere.
In the recent furor over the F-35 one casualty stands out as having serious implications for national security. Stealth, a widely-publicized attribute of the F-35, has been downplayed, denigrated, ridiculed, and attacked to the point where Canadians can be forgiven for believing that it is an unnecessary and costly feature of the aircraft, or indeed of any aircraft eventually selected to replace the CF-18.

That is unfortunate. Setting aside the political dimensions of the situation—which are many—a compelling argument can be made for the inclusion of stealth technology in Canada’s next fighter aircraft. Although it is a complex matter, there are two basic arguments in favour of stealth, and both are significant. They are mission effectiveness and pilot survivability.
He is, of course, right on the money.  However the point to be made is that stealth is but one tool in the F-35's toolbox.  As has been said here many times, it does not define the F-35.

But as Manson points out, one of the techniques used by critics is to attempt to denigrate it's importance even while purposely trying to define the F-35 by stealth only.

It's an old and effective way to mislead - and that's precisely what this sort of "demonization" does.  The F-35 is a fighter with cutting-edge advanced capabilities which also happens to be a stealth, or preferably "low observable" aircraft.  And it should be remembered that making it low observable does indeed increase mission effectiveness and pilot survivability over all 4th generation fighters.

Seems most would consider both of those positive accomplishments, wouldn't you say?



  1. Even in future improved radar situations, the F-35 will be more stealthy than 4 gen legacy aircraft.

    It is the comparative advantage that matters.