The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) is the world’s premier fifth-generation air platform. Its performance is unmatched by any existing fourth-generation aircraft as well as the so-called fifth-generation systems being deployed by Russia and China. After some significant teething pains and years of having its viability and affordability questioned, the F-35 is on a course to become the dominant fighter of the twenty-first century. The aircraft has proven itself not only in exercises but also in combat deployments. More countries are signing up to be members of the JSF club. They are doing so not only because of the F-35’s demonstrated performance but because it is more affordable than many of the best fourth-generation aircraft. Year after year, the JSF program has managed to reduce the acquisition costs for new lots of aircraft while improving its capabilities. I have written more on this subject here.
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