US Air Force declares F-35A combat ready

written by australianaviation.com.au | August 3, 2016

70 ARS Refuels F-35AsAustralia’s next fighter jet has passed a critical milestone with the US Air Force declaring the Lockheed Martin F-35A Joint Strike Fighter “combat ready”.

The F-35A’s achievement of IOC – initial operational capability – was announced by General Hawk Carlisle, the commander of Air Combat Command, on August 2.

“I am proud to announce this powerful new weapons system has achieved initial combat capability,” General Carlisle said in a statement.

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“The F-35A will be the most dominant aircraft in our inventory, because it can go where our legacy aircraft cannot and provide the capabilities our commanders need on the modern battlefield.”

Requirements for USAF IOC with the F-35A included an operational squadron of 12 to 24 aircraft with sufficient trained aircrew and maintenance personnel, logistics and support arrangements in place, and the ability to conduct basic close air support, interdiction and limited suppression of enemy air defence missions. That first operational squadron, the 388th Fighter Wing’s 34th Fighter Squadron, based at Hill Air Force Base, Utah completed all the USAF’s criteria for F-35A IOC including an away from home base deployment – to Mountain Home AFB, Idaho in June – and a series of eight-ship sorties, which were conducted in mid-July.

The US Air Force plans to field 1,763 F-35As, the conventional takeoff and landing variant of the Joint Strike Fighter, which Australia has committed to acquire 72 of. F-35A IOC follows US Marine Corps IOC with the STOVL F-35B achieved in mid-2015, while US Navy IOC with the carrier-based F-35C is planned for the second half of 2018. Australia, meanwhile, plans IOC with its first squadron of F-35As in 2021.

“The F-35 links the Air Force, Navy, Marines and our allies together as a strong, interoperable, warfighting coalition,” head of the F-35 Joint Program Officer, Lt Gen Chris Bogdan said.

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“Last year the F-35 Joint Program Office and our industry partners worked hand-in-hand with the US Marine Corps to achieve their IOC goal at the beginning of their six-month window and we’ve done it again with the US Air Force. The roads leading to IOC for both services were not easy and these accomplishments are tangible testaments to the positive change happening in the F-35 program.”

As with the F-35B, the F-35A’s IOC meet the schedule determined by the US Department of Defense for IOC announced in May 2013, but major milestones still remain before the aircraft is capable of its full spectrum of missions, in particular the completion of the aircraft’s Block 3F software, planned for 2017, while development of a mature of version of the troubled Autonomic Logistics Information System – ALIS – maintenance management software is not due for release until late this year.

“We know that we will continue to add capability to this airplane just like we have with every airplane in the history of the Air Force,” Gen Carlisle told media in an August 2 briefing to announce IOC. “Some of the software is significantly improved, but there’s still things we are going to work on.”

But that won’t necessarily deter the USAF from deploying the aircraft sooner rather than later.

“I would like to deploy it to both the European and the Pacific theatre in the not-too-distant future, so I would say within 18 months I think I’ll try to get to both those theatres,” Gen Carlisle said.

“I think when the F-35 deploys to places like in the European theatre as well as in the Pacific theatre, it will give our allies and partners confidence in the airframe.

“It will also give them a chance to see it in operation and see it in interoperability working with their fourth-generation airplanes.”

37 Comments

  • Fabian

    says:

    I though the first f-35 squadron will arrive in mid 2017 to 2018?

  • Jason

    says:

    Getting popcorn, sitting back, and waiting for all the JSF-haters to chime in!

  • the road runner

    says:

    Close to 200 F-35 have been produced to date
    Production will ramp up from 4 JSF being built to 17 being built per month.. This will lower production costs

    JSF has started to prove its self in Red Flag exercises and is coming out on top in a big way.
    F-35A have flows Surface to Air AD drills with ground based radar systems unable to locate F-35A in the air.

    During these exercises at Mountain Home Airforce base the F-35A had to turn on their transponders so ground base radar could find the location of the JFS.
    http://www.businessinsider.com.au/f-35-too-stealthy-2016-8?r=US&IR=T

    The JSF have even flow against Red Air sims and up against S-300 Air defense systems the US owns.(Thanks gf0012-aust for that info)

    The JSF is preforming,and will only get stronger as time goes on,..We are entering a whole new generation of Air warfare ,with new tactics,procedures and weapons… I for one am very glad the JSF was chosen for the RAAF and will be the backbone for Australia over the next 40 plus years !

    Plan Jericho is starting to take shape !

  • Fabian

    says:

    Thanks. I got confused. But OMG it’s going to take ages. It’s going to be 7 years till the Australian f-35 squadron comes. ?

  • Derrick Aguero

    says:

    Hopefully by the time we have all 72 planes we can get another 24 B models for the LHD. By 2023 someone should have come to their senses and see the need for a naval air wing….

  • Craigy

    says:

    @Derrick Dream on. Its not in the White paper so not in the strategic direction articulated by the Government. Given the role of the LHDs in the Australian context, combat airpower will be provided by other assets.

  • Chris Grealy

    says:

    It looks like it’s held together with gaffa tape.

  • Jason

    says:

    Fabian – it’s 7 years until all four squadrons reach FOC, not “…until the Australian squadron comes.”

    IOC of 3 Squadron is 2020, followed at yearly intervals by the other three units.

  • mike9

    says:

    gee whiz, only 17 years late. and the marines have parked up their aircraft until the systems “mature”ie doesn’t work!! , 14 out of 120 on the line actually fly,the combat system (if it ever works) and helmet are not allowed to be used outside America. as reported by the British government, still has massive reliability problems still over weight, by the time we get them 12 years late , US senator John Cain has said its a total dud and is appalled by the costs that keep mounting.it will be a trillion dollars with spares apparently, Canada is seriously thinking of walking away,Whats the good of stealth if someone else can out run you ,out gun you ,and out range you…, every scenario with tankers in air games by the RAAF , has been a disaster,.loss of all aircraft due to fuel starvation, loss of tankers ,all shot down as they try to get home.,, Jason enjoy your popcorn

  • Fabian

    says:

    Yeah, you are right mike9
    The RAAF did have other options other than the f-35. Hopefully the defence will do something like buy another fighter or wait for the FA/xx. Which comes in mid 2030.
    Buy some advanced super hornets or something like that or even the gripen e. I don’t know what. Just use them until mid 2030 to fly with the f-35.

  • the road runner

    says:

    JSF bashing is a joke. Sure the program could have been handled better.The test aircraft were a completely different beast to the ones flying now.They had issues but the issues have been resolved or well on there way to being resolved

    So mike9 did you know it will cost close to 4 trillion dollars to keep the existing US fighter fleet (F-16,F-18,F-15 ect) in operation(till 2050) instead of going for a JSF fleet? That so called 1 trillion for JSF starts to sound cheap dose it not?

    Canada is in financial trouble as a country ,that’s why they have not chosen a fighter thus far.Hell they have not purchased any defense related equipment and their defense force is rotting.

    You are talking about out running and out gunning ,its not the turn and burn 1980s of top gun, its all about Situational awareness and a Systems approach(not a platform approach). ISR,Ground base and Aegis radar,jamming,AWACs ect all working together to give a picture of the battle space.Information passing from one platform to another and giving all war fighters a picture of the battlefield.(Plan Jericho)

    Again the F35B has reached IOC and is ready for deployment anywhere in the world.

    Mike9 you have been reading to much Air Power Australia crap/Carlo Copp/Bill Sweetman/ RAND report crap. They have been proven wrong and ill informed….Its like clubbing baby seals in this comment section!

    Fabian your comments are just wrong. Why would be purchase and fly F-35 for 15 years and then purchase another aircraft and spend money on,training,doctrine,base upgrades,spares,ground equipment,flight sims and purchase a new aircraft? Good way to blow 30 billion the defense budget dose not have.

    Sure the RAAF had other options, buy a 4th gen fighter and have a force that will be obsolete by 2025.

    The JSF is the RAAFs F-111 program all over again. In the 1960’s it was running late,had technical problems ,people said it was a dud and we should purchase other platforms like F-4s. It proved itself over time and became an icon,and proved to be very difficult for the Australian public to retire

    People need to stop and think for a second… do you think the Air forces like …. Israel ,Japan,Singapore,Republic of Korea,Turkey,USA,UK,Denmark,Netherlands,Norway,Italy and Australia have all decided to purchase JSF as its a dud? Or to appease the USA? They could have chose any Air craft they wanted to… but they chose JSF!.

    Popcorn time !

  • Harry

    says:

    Hey Roadrunner, I agree that the F-35 has come along way over the last year and should on balance be a great plane for Australia with those capabilities you mention. I have on past threads argued for an additional platform whether it be a 4.5-gen plane or whatnot. I argue this for several reasons, least because its prudent risk management to have more than just one frontline fighter. Does the navy just have one frontline ship type? No, it has Frigates, destroyers and Submarines. I see a strategic role for a plane that does retain the long range low level strike capabilities that the F-111 encompassed and also long range timely interception of contacts using big supersonic air superiority fighters.

    The US plans to use their F-15s and F-22s in conjunction with F-35s either has air superiority fighters covering the F-35s or as arsenal planes providing many missiles able to be ‘captured’ and directed by the F-35s. Thos countries you mention above, many will operate the F-35s in conjunction with air superiority fighters and long range strike fighters. Israel will retain F-15s and may even get silent eagles; Japan, Singapore and Korea will retain their F-15s in conjunction with F-35s and both Japan and Korea are developing 5th gen air-superiority fighters. The UK and Italy will retain the Euro fighters both as long range strike and air-superiorty fighters.

    The F-35 should be great but we also could benefit, depending on funding – and this is the major obstacle – from filling those capabilities which I see as a strategic requirement with an additional platform. This makes sense from a risk management perspective. Those countries above can retain two aircraft filling different roles. Why can’t Australia? We used to with the F-111 providing extreme long range and low level strike. But there is also a strategic need for an air-superiority fighter, something Australia hasn’t previously needed (or could afford) since the end of WW2. When you have these additional assets its easy to feel comfortable about the experimental F-35 program and the revolution in air combat it could herald.

  • Fabian

    says:

    Yeah I guess your right. The f-35 does massive technological and physical advantages over the 4th gen fighters of our allies and our so called enemies such as China with its j-10s. Australia bought the super hornets as a fighter for the gap of the replacement of the f-18s to f-35. Although the f-18 super hornet has proven itself to be extremely capable and probably the best in this time right now. Along with the 12 EA-18 growlers we are getting.

  • mike9

    says:

    More Lockheed PR material from roadrunner. so being able to have great situational awareness will put fuel in the tanks will It ? It just lost out in war games in the as was shot down by 30 year F16’s. the bloody things can’t even fly to Darwin without refuelling.from Amberley or Richmond..
    The US governments Senate committee is absolutely appalled by the lack of performance and programme failures. the Russians have 5 th generation Sulkois and this thing will not even to be able to get close to them, every one agrees with the loss scenarios. By the way,.the comments about the costings are straight out of the Lockheed briefings, .as stated so many times trying to be a jack of all trades and master of none.
    The world is chaging rapidly, unmanned drones with stealth airframes are flying now, Do we really need to waste so much money on something that even on the best days will be vunerable just by it limitations.

  • the road runner

    says:

    Harry ,hi and yes it would be great to have additional fighters ,but the major problem is budget !
    Australia is replacing a lot of its kit from IFV,subs,AWD,F-18 classics, frigates,MPA the list just goes on.

    The reason i see a single fast jet platform as being the way to go for the RAAF is because of BUDGET!Plus the JSF is a multi role platform doing AD and Ground attack very well.
    Not only will a 2nd fast jet cost us money in Purchasing the platform ,but think of all the costs associated with a new training doctrine for maintainers,pilots,new flight sims,base upgrades,ground equipment.Then add spare parts and the like Just those cost alone will be in the few billions of dollars, and could probably purchase a few Squadron of JSF that would tap into already existing training/logistics programs. Thats a major saving in $$$.

    Then add the purchasing costs of buying a 2nd fast jet and we are talking about 10 billion dollars to get a couple (3)of Squadrons of fighters..(refer to the F-18 Super bug project cost for 36 planes was close to 10 billion Australian dollars) That money would get us a HEAP more of JSF or UAV’s or more IFV for Army

    The pie is only so big for the defense budget. Money for a 2nd fast jet platform would have to come out of someone else’s budget from the ADF ….should we take it off Army’s Land 400 project for IFV ,how bout we take the money from Sea 1000 and not replace our Collins subs or from the P-8 budget and reduce our buy of MPAs??

    There are a lot of smart people deciding Australia’s future defense needs with the budget we have.. We should all be thankful the “classic hornets” are being replaced on a 1 for 1 bases

    Also take into account that the RAAF will have a new capability in the form of Growlers that no other country operates other than the USA. The RAAF is in a very healthy state ,with new equipment that has been fielded such as C-17,C-130J,MRTT,C-27J ,F-18 Supers and soon to be growlers, P-8s,Triton and JSF,let alone the new base upgrades ,new weapons such as new PGM,LGBs JSOW and other missiles and you start to see that the RAAF is in a very healthy state.

    We should be thanking our lucky stars at the equipment the RAAF is purchasing and be very content with what we will have in 2020.

    Seriously there is to much fanboy dreaming going on with platforms,We all need to start looking at the “Systems approach” of war fighting and not the platform approach. Every JSF will be a jammer, a bomb truck and AD asset and ISR asset and a node in the system that shares information to other platforms.

    The RAAF in 2025 is going to be a very deadly cutting edge force … am i the only one that can see this?

    Cheers

  • the road runner

    says:

    To add ….Look at how the US Navy projects force,They fight 1000s of miles (km) from any dedicated AD support They have no dedicated AD fighters on ships. Instead they use Growlers to Jam and enemy. What is Australia getting …. 12 Growlers(with another 12 plumbed for Growler capability!) That alone should tell you something about the different approach you can take. It will be a capability that no one else in the region fields, and will be a deciding factor if an air war ever breaks out in our region.

    We can either fly an Air Defense fighter and try to deny and enemy airspace OR we can pick and choose and area we decide to fight in and go on the attack by using growlers to kick down the door and pave the way for a strike! (not like the JSF needs this capability ,but it will enhance the JSF and the strike package as a whole)

    There is more than 1 way to club a baby seal !

    Cheers

  • the road runner

    says:

    This is probably the best article i have ever read on JSF ,you can thank gf00012 over at Defense Today for this little beauty! Its 7 pages long.Read the whole article,understand that the Author is a F-16 pilot with over 3000 hours flying F-16.

    Other pilots who compare the JSF up against F-15,F16 and A10s are either TOP GUN/Test pilots or Instructor pilots.

    Understand that G limits are placed on the JSF at the moment and its still out flying 4th gen fighters in most flight profiles.

    Id take this information on board over anything on the internet today

    http://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2016/08/05/operational_assessment_of_the_f-35a_109673-7.html

    In regards to a 2nd dedictaed Air Defense platform for the RAAF one thing to understand is we will loose a combat squadron if we go down this path. Say the RAAF has 6 Squadrons of fighters for arguments sake 3 JSF squadrons and 3 F-15 Silent Eagle squadrons … It would look something like this

    1st Squadron would need to be a Training Squadron for F-15…. training pilots to fly the the F-15
    2nd and 3rd Squadrons would be operational F-15 Squadrons to fight with

    4th Squadron would need to be a training Squadron for JSF ….training pilots to fly the F-35
    5th and 6th Squadron would be operational JSF squadrons to fight with.

    Now if we have 6 JSF Squadrons ,it would look like this..
    1st Squadron would be a Training Squadron to teach pilots how to fly and fight in JSF

    2nd,3rd,4th,5th and 6th Squadrons would be operational JSF Squadrons to fight with.

    We gain an extra Squadron of operational JSF if we go an all JSF fleet

    That’s a big deal for the RAAF and Australia’s defense …

    Sorry to post so much guys ,its just there is to much false info regarding JSF out on the internet !

    Cheers.

  • the road runner

    says:

    mike9 its obvious with your first line of your snippy reply you have no idea.. SA is the most important attribute to have when going to war. Knowing who to shoot is a pretty valuable in war!

    As for fuel JSF holds 8 ton of fuel internally .That’s more than an F-16 holds internally AND with External drop tanks. 8 ton is quiet a lot of fuel for a single engine aircraft.

    Ohh you mean that F-16 that shot down a pre production JSF ( Aircraft AF-2)
    AF-2 that did not have is stealth coating applied on the air frame?
    AF-2 that did not have its software or sensors installed to locate enemy air craft?
    AF-2 that had no helmet ,no cuing software for a missile shot ?

    So let me get this right you are talking about AF-2 that was dog fighting an F-16 and the JSF had no radar.no stealth coating,no HMD or software to prosecute a shot and was un armed?
    You should read the JPO report on that ,i have and i know exactly what happened.
    If you want to cherry pick info and use it to suit your BS post go right ahead.I am not buying it and neither did the JPO report !

    Russia has no PAKFA in operation. What they do have is pre production models that are used as test beds.How was that PAKFA that caught on fire and burnt to the ground ,did you see that one mike9?Russia will be lucky to have full rate production PAKFAs in service in the 2025 time frame.If ever.

    So Mike9 what are these full rate production super doper stealth drones flying around in large numbers that we can buy off the shelf and change the battle space forever? Name them ! How much fuel do they carry? Show me the actual firing of weapons such as missiles,LGBs,PGM’s and the like actually being fired and cleared for these drones. I can show you all this on JSF !

  • Jason

    says:

    *click*

  • Gerald Casimatis

    says:

    I can’t believe the how complicated the topic of the f 35’s functions has become.
    It appears to me that the F35 was designed primarily [ not solely ] as an attack platform which will work with ECM aircraft when required in our region.
    Ie. get in get out in areas where gaining continuous air superiority has little relevance.
    It would stand to reason that the remaining 28 or so aircraft we propose to buy will mainly take the form of long range air superiority fighters manned or unmanned such as those proposed by the the US, Japan or the UK. They will probably be selected when sufficient Chinese or Russian Stealth aircraft are produced operational, their functions defined and are posing a threat in our region. This could well mean more than 10 years and I expect our experts are smart enough to have worked this out.

  • Harry

    says:

    Roadrunner, I agree that the biggest problem is budget as I said. But that doesn’t mean it has to come at the expense of other defence programs. Thats misleading. Because we should be spending more on defence, it should come at the expense of other frivolous programs or big multinational tax dodgers.

    Anyway, rather than arguing for such platforms because I am a fanboy of them – I am and this is indeed the website for fanboys – you should notice that I argued my case on capabilities that the RAAF could may well need in the future, i.e. I argued on these platforms strategic merits in the capability they bring. Long Rang Low level Strike and Air-Superiority. An F-15 for example can go nearly twice the distance of the F-35 to conduct long range strike. It is also very adept at low level strike due to its big frame its able to hold a big radar. Secondly, such a platform can intercept aircraft at extreme distances very quickly thanks to its two powerful engines supersonic capability. It can go nearly twice as fast as an F-35. These two capabilities, I see, are strategically relevant for the RAAF when the region is steadily becoming more risky and dangerous than ever. For example, intercepting hostile aircraft 2000 kms away in a timely manner and/or threatening naval groups 2000 kms away.

    Indeed this places restrictions on the quantity of fighters, if say we didn’t have one single platform of F-35s. But in an aircraft and concept that is as yet unproven its a risk management issue. It would be better reduce risk by increasing diversity. Its a tool for a strategy/tactic. That is after all what biological life is all about. AND, nevertheless, as I stated above the USAF specifically intends to operate air-superiority aircraft, long range strike AND F-35s in conjunction with each other. Check out the concept of the ‘arsenal plane’ and why such a capability is also important for the RAAF.

  • Martin

    says:

    Road Runner, You write that “Mike9 you have been reading to much Air Power Australia crap/Carlo Copp/Bill Sweetman/ RAND report crap. They have been proven wrong and ill informed….”.

    In one of your later responses you give reasons why AF-2 was ‘shot down’ by an F-16, but is this what you mean by “proven wrong and ill informed” or can you elaborate further?

    There had been an inquiry into the JSF project in the Senate of the last parliament and some of what was written by what I understood are experienced ex RAAF officers didn’t make for good reading. Unfortunately, that inquiry lapsed without completing its work prior to the election. I assume you would be comfortable with such an open inquiry resuming and completing its findings if it could be resurrected?

  • the road runner

    says:

    If any of you guys want to learn about platforms, Air Power ,general defense related issues and to actually learn fiction from fact you should join the website below .A number of defense professionals from all over the world are members. I guarantee you will learn a lot! I know John Newman is a member with a few others who post here. (hope that’s ok to post this link Australian Aviation/Andrew)

    http://www.defencetalk.com/forums/

    Most 4th gen fighters are flying at over Mach 1 when going into battle. External weapons,pods,drop tanks give any 4th gen fighter a drag penalty . A F15 is NOT flying Mach 2+ with a full weapons load hanging off its wings. Neither is a F-18,F16,SU27/30/35. ect. Harry you have made a few big assumptions here.

    Martin i throw Perry Sprey in with that group to. You will find all these “So called experts” who talk about any platform ,have no inside info what so ever. You will find a number of politicians who are ” anti JSF” have changed their views once they have been briefed by someone in the know. This has happened on a number of occasions , and politicians being politicians ,don’t go around yelling “i was wrong” , they actually shut up on the issue and bury it 😉

    Have a read of this thread @ Defense Talk

    http://www.defencetalk.com/forums/air-force-aviation/f-35-program-general-discussion-12487/

  • Adrian P

    says:

    DefenceTalk’s defence forum is the leading discussion board for defense and military professionals and enthusiasts to discuss defense and military topics on global security, war on terror, army, land forces, air force, military aviation, navy, naval forces as well as nuclear and missile forces of the world

    No bias there ?

    First rule of defence, identify the threat.
    What is it? Who is it? Why?

  • John N

    says:

    Hi Road Runner,

    How you going mate!

    To back up RR’s comments, yes people who are serious about aviation, and defence matters generally, could do themselves a big favour and spend some time reading and being involved in the various forums on Defence Talk (DT).

    Unfortunately there is so much ill informed ‘crap’ written in the media by ‘so called’ experts regarding the F-35, I just give up trying to respond, it’s just not worth it at times, gives me a headache reading some of the things that get written (hats off to RR for making the effort too!!).

    But if people do want to educate themselves and discuss their thoughts and ideas with a large number of Defence Professionals (active serving, recent serving, defence industry professionals and people serious about defence), then DT is the place to go.

    And certainly no offence or reflection regarding AA with my comments too, been a reader of AA since a bit after the mid 1970’s, that’s how far I go back!!

    Cheers,

    John N

  • Harry

    says:

    Hey Martin, I was wondering what happened with that… I downloaded all the submission files to read but because Im overseas haven’t kept up with the progress of the inquiry. Is it over? Or as you say lapsed, never finished due to some or other delaying tactic by this or the previous government? Or did the shambles election and the following shambles get in the way of serious government business?

  • Harry

    says:

    Road runner! I never said that the F-15 would make timely intercepts at great distances with full load outs. I think your the one who is assuming things. Please don’t use a straw mans argument to undermine my relevant point that such capabilities are useful and perhaps strategically necessary in the future with the proliferation of modern weapons in the into-pacific region.

  • the road runner

    says:

    Ok Harry !

    1.You talk about low level long range strike… Why …. pulse doppler radar/Russian fighters would play havoc on low level fighters/bombers.Let alone throwing SAM systems into the mix… Bombers and Fighters use height/altitude as a form of safety, as it takes more effort for an enemy to destroy a threat.Longer response times are an advantage for a plane flying high altitude. We will have long range fighter/ bombers in the form of JSF/MRTT teaming together . So why spend money on a different aircraft??

    2. You say that an F-15 can go twice as fast as a JSF and i called BS on it as missiles/bombs/ECM pods/Fuel drop tanks will have a drag penalty associated with its speed. You can not fly long range Air defense/strike missions with out bombs or missiles.As for F-15 flying 2 x the distance of JSF ,i think not!

    3. Your last post you go on to talk about modern weapons proliferating into the Asia pacific ,i assume you mean SAM,s, Fighters and the like. Yet you still want to fly low level? Good way to destroy planes/pilots/ and moral of your defense forces.

    If anyone has lost faith in the JSF and thinks for one minute a company like Lockheed Martin can not trouble shoot any issues regarding the JSF program ,as they have done,with pre production planes needs their head read.This is the company that built over 4500 F-16 and has the engineering capacity and know how to produce cutting edge kit.

    Dose anyone really think that if an F-16 beat a JSF in a dogfight, and both planes are made by the same company , that LM would flog a lesser aircraft and think that its company would have a future?

    The spin off effects of the JSF program will find its way into future drones,F22, bombers and other platforms, but most people l have no idea that this is the case!Another benefit the JSF program has.

    Look at Australian company’s that are benefiting and producing parts for the JSF program
    And yet people want to purchase a 4th++ gen fighter that will be irrelevant in 10 years time.,

    Get with the program ,get on the ban wagon and start cheering that the RAAF will have a 5th Generation fighting force..

    No more posts from me …

  • paul

    says:

    To all of you people who posted classified info about how good the 35 is . obviously you guy’s have access to alot of info.1,no one knows how good or bad it is.2nd,it is not combat proven,3rd,there are the LM pr machines at work.I for one think APA are ill iformed.Lets just wait and see.

  • John N

    says:

    Harry,

    Whilst I understand your desire to see the RAAF again have a long range (strategic) strike capability, I don’t necessarily see, for example, that the Strike Eagle is the solution, or the only solution.

    Yes from a ‘pure’ airframe point of view the Strike Eagle is a longer ranging aircraft than an F-35, and both are certainly out performed by the now retired F-111C’s in terms of range.

    But there are a whole lot of other factors too, looking back at the long range of the F-111C’s, it needed that range capability because it had to fly ‘over’ the target and drop ‘dumb’ bombs right on top of that target.

    Move forward to the mid 2020’s and beyond, the F-35 with Block 4 and beyond software, will have the option to be armed with a variety of long range land and maritime strike weapons, JASSM (approx. 400km range), JASSM-ER (approx. 1,000km), LRASM (approx. 930km) and JSM (approx. 290km) and of course you add the KC-30A into the mix too and the combination of airframe, extended range weapons and a long ranging tanker, the RAAF’s reach is pretty good.

    But let’s also be realistic, with the retirement of the F-111C’s (and no ‘one for one’ replacement available), the RAAF will hand over a lot of the ‘strategic deterrent/long range strike’ capability to the RAN when the Collins replacements are eventually equipped with TacTom (1,600km range) or similar capability.

    When you look at the geography in our part of the world, there is only one capability that will ever give the RAAF a ‘strategic reach’ capability again, and that would be for the RAAF to procure the LRS-B, (eg, the future USAF B-21), but that, even in my wildest dreams is never ever, ever going to happen!!!

    Whilst the Strike Eagle (of today) is a great airframe, the question will be as we move into the 2020’s, 2030’s, 2040’s and beyond, will it’s capabilities be sufficient or relevant? Time catches up with everything, as it did with the F-111C’s.

    Cheers,

    John N

  • Harry

    says:

    Roadrunner there you go! Flying high is great when you have air superiority and/or stealth and/or have suppressed enemy defences. Thats why 91 gulf war the USAF flew many low level strikes along with stealth and enemy air defence suppression missions over the first 2-3 days first before they were safe to fly at higher altitudes. Get your facts straight. Flying low level means no ground based radars can catch you, so not much to worry with SAMs as long as you suppress them if your flying right over them. Also good for maritime strike as the adversary ships won’t see you coming and have little time to react. Read some history of the gulf war air campaign to understand what I am explaining.

    Also an F-15 can do a timely intercept of an adversary at extreme distances with no bombs and just a simple missile load out. Ask the Japanese, they do it nearly every day from Okinawa. And why would the Israelis still want to get F-15s even though they are starting to get the F-35s? I wonder is it perhaps because they provide certain relevant capabilities?

    I think your forgetting that I argue for two based on those; (1) said missions which I see as still strategically relevant; (2) a pure risk management standpoint; and (3) to act as an ‘arsenal’ plane (have you even checked up on this concept?) Don’t get me wrong it doesn’t have to be an F-15 (i might of exaggerated the comparisons a little)… why not a F-22 (obviously never going to happen) or any other 5th-gen plane, like say whatever the south koreans or Japanese are developing at the moment.

    Most your points i agree with (although I don’t see them as highly relevant to my arguments – flying high on CAPS etc will be the norm but there is still a need to get below the deck and zip across vast distances in a timely manner). But you seem to be forgetting that I am in favour of the F-35!

  • Harry

    says:

    By the way, roadrunner, your argument cuts both ways. If it is easy for a fighter to adjust and dodge for SAMs at high levels – and the Israelis did this quite nicely against Syrian SAMs – then this logic also applies to the enemy (although there is some scary vision/youtube footage of USAF pilots struggling against multiple SAM missiles from the 91 Gulf War). An adversary, while he may not be able to see the F-35 can dodge his BVR missiles at range equally easily – btw modern BVR combat just like the JSF is not yet combat proven and has historically a less than 50% chance against even unaware targets of very old soviet design. This means that the adversary, if he is flying a modern Su-30+ fighter, will have the advantage in WVR combat. This is where the concept of the ‘arsenal’ plane becomes important. A F-35 will only be holding 6 missiles, 4 of which will be BVR. But say a modern F-15 can hold 18 missiles (another platform could hold more or less).

  • paul

    says:

    To Harry,John N,roadrunner,Obviously you guy’s have flown alot of fast jet types.The advandces in ground based radars in the next ten years will make the JSF obselete.

  • Harry

    says:

    John,

    Yes I wouldn’t be so bold as to argue for a B-21 haha. And yes the long range strike weapons with the F-35 will be great. We just then need a way to target targets with those new weapons. Nevertheless, I do take your point. I am not also so hung up on the F-15. See the posts below your previous (above this) for my explanation.

  • paul

    says:

    Having two fast jet types would make sense.Just say a cyber hacker disabled a key node in the JSF? which grounded them?What would we use as backup then?The Rhino is an excellent platform and multirole jet.Just my 2 cents worth.

  • John N

    says:

    Hi Harry,

    Your question of how do we “target targets with those new weapons”, is something that is starting to happen now and by the mid 2020’s a lot of those systems will be in place. The RAAF’s “Plan Jericho” will be the basis for a lot of what you are talking about.

    By that mid 2020’s time frame we will see the RAAF (and ADF) with assets such as, E-7A, P-8A, MQ-4C Triton, Gulfstream G550 ISR aircraft (the G550 has a range of 12,500k), various other medium and small UAV’s, the F-35A, EA-18G, F/A-18F, satellites (probably sharing US data), Navy assets such as AWD’s and submarines, Army assets such as UAV’s and special forces on the ground.

    All those pieces of the “System” will be able to input their slice of data to provide that big picture.

    The challenge is no doubt getting all of those ‘systems within the system’ to talk together and seamlessly share and swap information and data.

    Anyway, we are not there yet, but if Plan Jericho can be successful and all of those asset that I mentioned above are in place by the mid 2020’s, well that goes a long way to answering the question of how do we “target targets with those new weapons”.

    Cheers,

    John N

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