U.S. Army leaders are worried about war in Europe. Russia’s military has been modernizing while America was fighting in Southwest Asia over the last 16 years, and Moscow enjoys tactical advantages from operating close to home. So the U.S. Army needs to accelerate modernization of its own equipment, and deploy more forces in the region. Beyond that, though, it needs to understand better what the F-35 fighter will bring to the future fight that helps friendly ground forces. In addition to being so stealthy that Russian defenders can’t track it, F-35 is five times more effective in strike missions than the best legacy fighter, six times more effective in air-to-air combat, and ten times more effective in suppressing enemy radar. Those qualities by themselves assure NATO forces will sustain air superiority in Central and Eastern Europe for decades to come. F-35 also has impressive reconnaissance capabilities that can help friendly forces on the ground. Russia’s leaders would be foolish to initiate war in the future with a Western coalition whose most common tactical aircraft can’t even be seen by their defenses. If they do, though, Army forces on the ground need not worry about having to fight alone — F-35 will survive and thrive in the warfighting environment of tomorrow. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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