The much-maligned Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jet is finally starting to dazzle. At two airshows in the UK over the past week, audiences cheered the new plane on as it impressed with its versatile capabilities. The WSJ released a stunning two-minute video about the fighter jet:
And Reuters has an excellent article on the F-35; you should read the whole thing. A selection:
“I can’t wait to get the airplane out to the Pacific,” Lieutenant General Jon Davis, deputy commandant for aviation, told Reuters in an interview. “It’s tailor-made for that part of the world with its fifth generation capability and its expeditionary capabilities to land on a small ship or strip, and flow back and forth between those.”
Davis says the F-35s are doing far better in combat exercises than expected, achieving so-called “kill ratios” of 24 to zero, and surviving every sort of simulated enemy attack.
“It is like watching a velociraptor going through. Everything in its path is killed,” he told reporters.
It sounds as though the F-35 may be exceeding optimistic projections about its capability.
The F-35 is a generational bet: some of the best engineering talent in the U.S., many years, and billions have been spent to develop an aircraft that can not only dominate the skies today, but that can serve as a platform for weapons systems that don’t even yet exist. Critics have pointed to many delays, cost overruns, political maneuvering and other problems. Defenders respond that any engineering project this complex is going to be challenging.
Over the next few years it will gradually become clear whether the U.S. has achieved its goal of developing the apex predator of aviation or whether the ambitious F-35 falls short. This matters; the world is increasingly unstable. The next U.S. president will need the edge that a successful fifth generation fighter can provide.