Fifteen years after development began, the F-35 fighter is operational with the U.S. Air Force. This is a crucial turning point for the tri-service program, because the Air Force will buy over 70% of the domestic production run, and its F-35A variant is the version the vast majority of allies will acquire. So it is a safe bet that without the Air Force buy, nobody else would be buying the plane either. Because the Air Force has stuck with the program, though, the joint force and coalition partners will be getting a fifth-generation fighter that is six times better at air-to-air combat than legacy fighters, five times better at attacking surface targets, and four times better at evading enemy air defenses. It is a technological marvel that will enforce global air dominance through mid-century. The Air Force deserves credit for sticking with the program through numerous trials and tribulations. It should continue to do so. I have written a commentary for The National Interest here.
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