The F-35 Arrives at Luke AFB: Preparing for the Next Generation of Warfare


2014-04-15 In a story published yesterday in the Arizona Republic, staff writer Paulin Giblin looked at the coming of the F-35 to Luke AFB.

The title of his piece is appropriately: “Luke’s New F-35 Redefines Warfare.”

Some excerpts follow:

The new F-35 pilot-training program at Luke Air Force Base in Glendale is developing aviators for an era of warfare the world has yet to experience.

Future fights will be contested on the digital frontier, according to military analysts who have studied the supersonic stealth fighter jets.

Unlike conventional warfare, next-generation battles will rely on cutting-edge technology linking networks of allied weapons systems that together can locate and destroy targets many miles away. Planes, ships, missiles and troops from various countries will be able to talk to each other and plot tactics literally on the fly.

“The F-35 will achieve its greatness as a coalition leader where information dominance is key,” said Michael W. Wynne, who previously served as secretary of the Air Force and as a former executive for the aircraft’s manufacturer, Lockheed Martin.

If the stealth F-35 Lightning II jets perform as envisioned, the next generation of pilots might never see targets with their own eyes and might never fly close enough to adversaries to become involved in one-on-one dogfights.

The planes are designed to engage in electronic warfare using sophisticated airborne computer systems that tie in to their sensors and communications systems. They require more than 8 million lines of software code to integrate their systems. The stealth F-22 Raptor fighters that became fully operational in 2005 require 2.2 million lines of code.

As a result, F-35 pilots will be able to fly undetected past enemy radar and defense systems to identify targets on the ground, sea or air, according to analysts.

Pilots from the U.S. and allied countries flying F-35s 25 to 30 miles apart will be able to stitch together real-time maps that all of them will be able to use. They also will be able to direct their own missiles — or weapons from other planes, ships, submarines or ground stations — to targets they’ve selected while airborne.

The idea is that pilots will become battle managers — and that kids who grew up using iPhones will fill those jobs…..