The RealClearDefense website has published an interesting article on the Israeli Air Force – arguably the best in the world. It worries that the IAF, its pilots’ skills notwithstanding, may lose its technological edge, because the F-35 cannot defeat modern Russian fighters, especially those equipped with infrared search and tracking systems:
“If the F-35 cannot hold its own against fourth-generation fighters, which are increasingly equipped with infrared sensors that can detect stealth aircraft, it will be limited to ground-attack missions and require escorts to carry-out operations in contested airspace. The former head of the USAF’s Air Combat Command admitted last year that the F-35 was not built as an air-superiority fighter and needs the USAF’s existing stealth fighter, the F-22, to protect against enemy aircraft.
This shortfall represents a major problem for Israel, which cannot acquire the F-22. Congress banned its export and production ended in 2011. Israel will therefore have to continue to rely on its existing fourth-generation fighters to retain competitive air-to-air capability – which undermines a core reason Israel invested in the F-35.”
It’s clear that the truth of the F-35’s inability to beat modern air superiority fighters is finally being recognized by important media outlets. However, this truth poses a deadly question for the F-35: what is it good for? What is it useful for?
As has been stated, it cannot beat modern competitor fighters and would need F-22 to escort it. So it’s completely unfit for air superiority missions (Pentagon and LM spin notwithstanding).
But it’s completely unfit for counterinsurgency missions. It is too expensive, too overbuilt, and the CTOL variant needs very long runways, limiting possible choices of deployment sites.
So the F-35 is completely unsuited for both high-end and low-end warfare. Not capable of defeating advanced fighters and air defense systems, too expensive and overbuilt for counterinsurgency warfare.
The idea of having it escorted by F-22 is ridiculously stupid. The F-22 will already be busy enough. Any weapon system requiring protective escorts will be a huge liability rather than an asset.
Memo to the Pentagon: Kill. The. F-35. Program. Now.
Not next year. Now.