Recently, The Cyber Brief interviewed the Marines leading expert on fifth generation aircraft, who is an F-22 and F-35 pilot among many other things.
He had these choice words for the F-35 critics:
The question of “Is it worth it?” has to be put into context. You can only determine the worth of this airplane if the capability is understood. If you want to define the capability along 4th generation standards and say it’s not worth the price of the program, that’s a pretty flawed argument to me.
For someone who is pretty familiar with the role and the impact of tactical aviation in a joint warfight – and I’ve been in combat in the F-18 numerous times – I’m very comfortable saying that the F-35 is a much more capable aircraft in terms of missions. It gives us a qualitative advantage, but more importantly, it has, inherent in its existence, an ability to adapt to missions we’re not even familiar with right now. It’s going to create an ecosystem, and it’s going to facilitate a whole host of other contributors to a network of warfighting information without which we would be at a huge disadvantage.
A lot of people either underestimate or misunderstand the actual capabilities of the F-35. It’s almost impossible to overstate how significant the emergence of this airplane is for the Marine Corps and the joint war force in general. Then you start to incorporate concepts like the F-35B and how expeditionary it is, and where it can operate. It can contribute to joint force missions and provide combatant commanders with a specialized aircraft that offers a persistent capability that may not represent 100 percent of what they need, but it’s available to them all the time.
It’s really difficult for me to say how good the airplane is because it’s so much better than anything we even thought of building, let alone have actually built. And part of the reason why it’s delayed is because the technology is so complex and what we’re asking it to do is so significant that it’s going to take some time and a little bit of patience, but ultimately, it’s in the hands of the war fighter now.
And that’s the best place for it to be because people that are using this to support Marines and to support the joint forces are going to figure out what they need out of it and what it can do.
And that’s part of the reason why the program is doing so well lately and why the news is getting better – we’ve got it in the hands of the people that are going to use it.
I’ve always said this: the greatest advocates of the F-35 are the people closest to the program. The biggest skeptics and critics are the people farthest away from the program. The less you know about it, the less you understand it, and the more critical you are of it. If you ever hear someone pining away for the F-16 of 1979 or the F-18 of 1983 or the F-15 of the mid 70’s, you’re talking to a someone who’s so far behind the technology and what the airplane can do that to me, his criticisms are just totally unwarranted.
The people that know the most about the jet are the people who are the biggest advocates for it. And keep in mind these are people with experience in other airplanes and other warfighting assets. I didn’t grow up on the F-35. I had three previous operational experiences with amazing airplanes prior to the Joint Strike Fighter.
My opinion of the F-35 is vastly higher than that of anything else, and that’s just because I understand it.
For the full interview, see the following: