01/06/2012 by Robbin Laird
Turkey yesterday ordered its first two production F-35s. Allies and partners continue to show support for the plane, while Inside the Beltway continues to miss the point. The plane is an essential element for 21st century combat operations and capabilities. Allies in Asia and the Middle East do not have the luxury like some Inside the Beltway to delay modernization. The Middle East and Asia are increasingly tough neighborhoods. There is no sense of complacency about the threats or the needs.
As I wrote earlier:
What is clearly required is recognizing the centrality of the 5th generation opportunity for the US and its allies before it is frittered away by folks like Senator McCain who tweet rather than think.
The F-35 and the recovery of the F-22 into a re-norming of air power is really the key to meeting the 5th generation and evolving air combat or indeed combat challenges posed by the evolution of foreign capabilities. What is lost on most analysts is that the F-35 is not solely about air combat it is about combat.
The F-35 is the first aircraft in history which can see 360 degrees around itself more than 800 miles and has integrated combat systems to manage that combat space. It is about a system not a platform. The F-35 as a combat system is about the central role of maintenance, upgrading, deployment readiness, development synergies provided by common software for upgrades and development. It is a system.
Allies and partners get the point; the Sec Def gets the point; it would be useful if Inside the Beltway asserted facts journalists and cubical commandos would pause and reflect on why they are so out of step with the world and strategic realities. Perhaps that is too much to ask.
And for our Special Report on Turkey see
SLD’s Franck Znaty adds that the Turks and the Israelis are renewing the air force collaboration and points to this article as a discussion of this development: