Tuesday, January 7, 2014

F-35: Learning to use the JSF, part II (allies)

Of course the US isn't the only country which will be using the F-35 in the coming decades, and many of our partners aren't going to be able to completely replace their legacy fleet with the JSF.

That means they too have got to develop plans and a strategy for the aircraft's most efficient employment based on the reality they face.  The Italian airforce gives us an example of the point:

Illustrative of the shift is the approach articulated by the Chief of Staff of the Italian Air Force.

According to Lt. General Preziosa, the F-35 presages a new era in air combat, and he is engaged in working through how his F-35s will work with legacy Eurofighters as Italian air power adapts to 21st century conditions.

One way to think about the way ahead is to continue to use 4th generation aircraft in surging mass to more classic airpower situations. One would use the F-35 as the key asset up against the distributed operational settings or for operations in denied air space.

Another way to look at it will be to find ways to gain more synergy between the F-35 and the legacy fleet. How can we better utilize our older assets during the process where the F-35 fleet becomes a reality?

Shaping combinations of 4th generation with the F-35s will be a mix and match opportunity in tailoring airpower to the missions ahead.

This is a challenge; but it is a key task within which the F-35s will make the legacy aircraft more effective; and the 4th generation aircraft will add support and strike capabilities to an F-35 enabled air power force.

The F-35 is in the process of becoming the dominant Western production combat aircraft for the decade ahead for the US, Pacific allies, European partners and Middle Eastern allies.
That, of course, is an expensive way to do business, given the cost of maintaining  a legacy fleet in addition to the F-35s.  However, as pointed out, some allies really have no choice.  And, of course, the legacy fleet would only be viable in certain tactical situations, thereby limiting their ability to project airpower in situations where the use of legacy aircraft is ill advised.

And, of course, even in the situations where stealth and the other capabilites of the F-35 aren't demanded, the F-35 too can load up on external hard points and deliver the goods as needed.

But ... unlike the US, an "all F-35" air fleet is just not an option for some airforces.  So they are forced into a situation where they have to consider integrating, updating and maintaining a 4th generation fleet as well.   And, they have to develop plans to use the F-35 as a combat multiplier for their legacy fleets.


1 comment:

  1. Seems JSF's F-35 program has become a curse to UK & US, as the program has hit with technical hitches, delays and some cancelled orders. As the time prolonging unit per cost is increasing, this makes more investement into the program. The more they invest the cost of the F-35 will increase this will effect the new order bookings.

    In this article it discusses whether F-35 program is profitable or not ... Some says it is going to be failed as it is the joint venture with US & the Lockheed Martin. UK is also calculating whether they get it money's worth from its investments or not ... the future will decide ....