Tag: Lockheed Martin

Switzerland Signs F-35 Procurement Contract

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Switzerland Signs F-35 Procurement Contract
File image of A U.S. Air

Force throughout the Air2030 analysis.(Photo: Armasuisse) With the offer currently defined, 36 F-35s will certainly be supplied starting from 2027. The Swiss Government validated that the purchase program for the F-35 Lightning II has actually lastly been joined Sept. 19, 2022. The agreement, with a worth of 6.2 billion USD, will certainly give the Swiss Air Force with 36 F-35s to change the existing fleet of F/A -18 Hornets as well as F-5 Tigers. As we currently reported, the F-35 became the champion of the Air2030 assessment program that was targeted at choosing the substitute for the

Hornets as well as Tigers. The National Armaments Director Martin Sonderegger as well as the Swiss F-35A Program Manager Darko Savic authorized the agreement at Armasuisse in Bern, while the United States authorities have actually currently authorized the agreement. The purchase, which exists within the restrictions of the optimum economic quantity accepted by the Swiss body politic, will certainly additionally cover objective certain devices, tools as well as ammo, a logistics bundle, objective preparation systems, training systems as well as first training, in addition to the assimilation right into the Swiss command and also control system.

The federal government claimed that the 2 nations have actually worked out a particular stipulation as well as authorized a different affirmation which develops the set cost nature of the arrangement. At the very same time, the head of Air2030, Peter Winter, as well as the F-35 Program Manager, Darko Savic, authorized the countered arrangement with Lockheed Martin that will certainly enable Swiss firms to obtain agreements with a quantity of around 3 billion USD.

The Swiss Federal Council based its choice on the comprehensive technological analysis, that included 4 prospects for a brand-new boxer airplane (Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Rafale, Boeing Super Hornet as well as the Lockheed Martin F-35) as well as the F-35 accomplished the greatest total advantage as well as at the exact same time the most affordable general expenses. You can discover all the information concerning the metrics utilized to assess all the challengers in this record we published in 2015.

The Swiss Air Force has actually likewise revealed on Mar. 24, 2022, that Switzerland has actually concerned an arrangement with the United States federal government as well as has actually specified that as much as 28 of the 36 airplane in overall will certainly be generated in Italy by the Leonardo business. That indicates at the very least 24 airplane will certainly be made in Italy. For 4 airplane, Lockheed Martin, as the supplier of the F-35A, is presently making clear whether they can be ultimately constructed as component of a balanced out task at RUAG in Switzerland; if this is not feasible, they will certainly additionally be created in Cameri.

About Stefano D’Urso Stefano D’Urso is an independent reporter as well as factor to TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. A grad in Industral Engineering he’s additionally examining to accomplish a Master Degree in Aerospace Engineering. Digital Warfare, Loitering Munitions as well as OSINT strategies put on the globe of present problems as well as army procedures are amongst his locations of know-how.

F-16V Block 72 Fighters Delivered To Greece

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F-16V Block 72 Fighters Delivered To Greece
Two Greek F-16 Block 72 fighter jets competitor for takeoff at Tanagra Air Force Base pressure the delivery ceremonyShipment(AP

Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)The very first 2 airplanes have actually been returned after an examination as well as the upgrade project in the United States. The Hellenic Air Force took shipment of the very first 2 totally updated F-16V Block 72 Viper boxer jets throughout an event at Tanagra Air Base on Sept. 12, 2022. The airplane are the very first of 83 that will certainly be updated from the Block 52+ to the current criterion, with the jobs being done in your area by the Hellenic Aerospace Industries (HAI) at Tanagra, sustained by Lockheed Martin.

The airplane are the previous F-16C Block 52+ with HAF serial 005 and also 006 (USAF serial 06-0005 as well as 06-0006) which were gotten with the Peace Xenia IV Foreign Military Sales program in 2005 and also provided in 2009 to the 335 Mira Tigris (Tigers) as well as the 336 Mira Olympos (Olympus), specifically, at Araxos Air Base. The Viper 005 obtained the initial component of the upgrades at Tanagra, where it flew once more in January 2021, prior to it was moved in the United States for the last upgrades as well as the qualification of the job done by HAI, removing them to wage the upgrade on various other airplane.

“Another extremely vital day for the Air Force as well as the Armed Forces of the nation, today, right here at the EAB centers in Tanagra, in the existence of the Ministers of Finance as well as Development as well as additionally in the existence of a team of Military Leadership, the shipment event of the very first 2 F -16 airplane of the “Viper” variation, one of the most modern-day F-16 airplane presently on the planet, occurred from the ODA to the Air Force”, claimed the Minister of National Defense Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos. “This is an airplane with massive possibility, specifically in regards to its electronic devices, and also will certainly better enhance its general power.”

The electronic devices, as a matter of fact, is the major emphasis of the Block 70/72 upgrade. Amongst the brand-new systems mounted we can discover the APG-83 AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar, a brand-new Center Pedestal Display (CPD), the AN/APX -126 Advanced IFF (Identification Friend or Foe), Link 16 datalink, complete NVIS (Night Vision Imaging System) and also JHCMS II (Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System II) compatibility, a brand-new Embedded GPS/INS (EGI), a contemporary business off-the-shelf (COTS)-based avionics subsystem, a high-volume, high-speed information bus as well as the Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (Auto GCAS).

F-35 Deliveries Halted As Chinese Alloy Was Found In Turbomachine Pumps

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F-35 Deliveries Halted As Chinese Alloy Was Found In Turbomachine Pumps
U.S Air Force Captain Kristin” BEO” Wolfe, F-35A Lightning II Demonstration Team Commander, flies throughout a demo at the Oregon International Airshow in McMinnville, Ore., Aug. 20, 2022. (U.S. Air National Guard image by Master Sgt. John Winn)The alloy is utilized by a professional to make magnets for Honeywell’s turbomachine pumps. The Pentagon has actually temporally quit F-35 distributions after authorities uncovered that an alloy made use of in magnets on the jet’s turbomachine pumps was created in China. The Defense Contract Management Agency initially informed the F-35 Joint Program Office concerning the possible trouble on August 19, prior to both accepted put on hold the

distributions on Aug. 31, 2022. The F-35 program workplace”momentarily stopped the approval of brand-new F-35 airplane to make sure the F-35 program’s conformity” with protection laws “referring to specialized steels,” stated Defense Department representative Russell Goemaere in a declaration. He additionally included the time out will not disrupt procedures of F-35s currently provided due to the fact that “the magnet does not send details or damage the stability of the airplane and also there are no efficiency, top quality, safety and security or safety and security threats related to this concern.”

The factor behind the requirement for the suspension is a U.S. legislation as well as a different Pentagon purchase guideline that restrict using particular specialized steels or alloys created by details nations detailed in the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation collection, which are China, Iran, North Korea and also Russia. The alloy concerned is a cobalt as well as samarium alloy “lately figured out to be generated in individuals’s Republic of China” as well as allured in the United States, according to the F-35 JPO.

The alloy is utilized in a magnet included in a Honeywell turbomachine that incorporates the airplane’s supporting power system as well as an air cycle device right into a solitary tool, which that gives power for ground upkeep, primary engine start-up and also emergency situation power. The magnet was given by a “fifth-tier” subcontractor to the produced of the lube pump, which consequently provides it to Honeywell.

“Honeywell has actually quit working with the distributor offering alloy, and also a different U.S. resource is currently on order with expected shipment following month,” stated Lockheed Martin spokesperson Laura Siebert. every one of the even more than 825 F-35 competitor jets supplied Much include the magnet made with the restricted Chinese alloy. The element has actually been utilized in the 5th gen airplane considering that 2003.

The F-35 will certainly currently require a nationwide safety and security waiver from the Pentagon’s leading purchase authorities, William LaPlante, to return to distributions of currently put together airplane consisting of the banned alloy. Something comparable currently took place a years earlier, when the Pentagon gave a waiver to Honeywell to utilize Chinese magnets in various other F-35 parts to avoid brand-new hold-ups as well as expense overruns. The F-35 JPO does not prepare for changing the magnets in the airplane currently supplied.

About Stefano D’Urso Stefano D’Urso is a self-employed reporter and also factor to TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. A grad in Industral Engineering he’s additionally researching to accomplish a Master Degree in Aerospace Engineering. Digital Warfare, Loitering Munitions as well as OSINT methods put on the globe of existing problems and also armed forces procedures are amongst his locations of proficiency.

Greece Sends Official F-35 Lightning II Purchase Request To The United States

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Greece Sends Official F-35 Lightning II Purchase Request To The United States
File picture of 2 Vermont Air National Guard’s F-35 Lightning IIs over

the Midwest. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Ben Mota) The Hellenic Air Force could obtain 20 F-35 airplane to create an armada, with a feasible alternative momentarily one. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis introduced on June 30, 2022 that a Letter of Request has actually been sent out to the United States to formally ask for the acquisition of 20 F-35 Lightning II 5th gen airplane. The news got here after the NATO Summit in Madrid, Spain, as well as notes the start of the multi-stage procedure that will certainly bring about the shipment of the very first airplane for the Hellenic Air Force in 2027-2028.

“Our intent is to obtain an F-35 armada with a feasible choice momentarily one. Sending out a Letter of Request (LoR) which has actually taken place in the previous couple of days becomes part of this procedure,” Mitsotakis informed press reporters. “It is a lengthy procedure as well as I am stating this due to the fact that it implies we have the financial room permitting us to make such an acquisition.”

This Letter of Request adheres to an additional one that was apparently sent out in 2020 by the Ministry of National Defense to the U.S. Department of Defense, in which Greece asked for 18-24 F-35 brand-new or utilized by the U.S. Air Force to be supplied in 2021. Some records also mentioned that Greece might have obtained 6 F-35s initially developed for Turkey, if required.

Nothing else information have actually been launched, besides claiming that the Prime Minister went over the purchase of the F-35 throughout his current journey to Washington last month. The Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos as well as the principal of the National Defense General Staff, Konstantinos Floros, are anticipated to take a trip to the United States this month also and also it is secure to think that the F-35 will certainly be among the based on be reviewed.

The procurement of F-35s would certainly “reinforce Greece’s protection abilities, strengthen US-Greek NATO interoperability, protecting local security,” United States Ambassador to Greece George Tsunis, claimed in a tweet complying with a conference recently in between Minister Panagiotopoulos and also authorities from the Joint Strike Fighter Program Office.

The feasible acquisition of the F-35 is simply among the lots of procurement programs of the Greek protection in the last couple of years, started in order to improve the militaries after stress with Turkey rose once more. Greece as well as Turkey have actually been at probabilities for years over a collection of concerns, however the present safety and security circumstance which complied with the Russian intrusion in Ukraine better worsened the demand to improve the army throughout Europe.

About Stefano D’Urso Stefano D’Urso is an independent reporter as well as factor to TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. A grad in Industral Engineering he’s additionally examining to attain a Master Degree in Aerospace Engineering. Digital Warfare, Loitering Munitions and also OSINT strategies put on the globe of existing problems as well as armed forces procedures are amongst his locations of knowledge.

Czech Republic Eyes F-35 For Gripen Replacement– Reports

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Czech Republic Eyes F-35 For Gripen Replacement-- Reports
File picture of a USAF F-35A (U.S. Air Force picture by Senior Airman Erica Webster )According to regional media the Czech Minister of Defense is thinking about the F-35 to change the JAS 39 Gripen. Absolutely nothing has actually been chosen yet (at the very least formally), it looks like the F-35 is taken into consideration amongst the

favorite favored prospects the Czech Ministry of Defense protection the replacement substitute the current present of JAS-39 C/D Gripen jets. For a couple of years conversations have actually been underway within the Czech MOD to pick a competitor that can change the 14 Gripen boxers presently on lease from the Swedish maker Saab up until 2027( with a choice to prolong the lease agreement to 2029). All the 3 initial choices are still on the table: expanding the lease and also proceed with the Gripens; obtain the more recent Gripen E/F alternative; or select an entirely various kind.

File picture of a Czech Air Force JAS-39 Gripen(Image credit score: Wiki)In situation the choice to acquire an entirely brand-new sort of airplane is made, the prospects would certainly be the Eurofighter Typhoon and also the Lockheed Martin F-35( as the F-16V deal was visited LM to concentrate on the Lightning II)

. The last has actually usually been taken into consideration as well pricey as well as large for the requirements, passions and also pose of the Czech Republic. The circumstance has actually transformed a whole lot as well as, the battle underway in Ukraine As the considerable adjustment in the safety and security scenario in Eastern Europe, have actually presumably pressed the 5th generation airplane at the top of the shortlist: while it is the most pricey (not just to obtain however likewise to run)it is additionally the most modern-day airplane in the globe; it might flawlessly incorporate with existing and also future NATO tools systems for the following years and also, if required, bring nuclear tools. Several various other European nations, also some which had actually formerly disposed of the kind, or smaller sized ones where the F-35 appeared to be as well costly, have actually selected the Lightning II stealth airplane, considering it cost-efficient for their demands after considerable assessments. As well as, if success in the Old Continent market had not been sufficient, the F-35 remains to win likewise in the remainder of the globe. According to the details gotten by the Czech Echo24 media electrical outlet,”The Air Force has actually currently handed down to the ministry its suggestion of which airplane need to secure the Czech skies in the coming years. The choice will certainly be up to the federal government and also the ministry. The Czech Republic will certainly probably not make use of the alternative to acquire formerly rented airplane. In 2027, it will certainly be greater than a quarter of a century old makers that will certainly retire within the following years.”In such context, “the American F-35 is described as the best prospect. […]https://theaviationist.com/2022/03/28/canada-selects-the-f-35-and-enters-into-negotiations-with-lockheed-martin-for-88-stealth-jets/”>The cost would possibly be around 85 to 90 million bucks each.” Priest Jana Černochová ought to generate the purpose of buying 24 brand-new boxers throughout the summertime, according to the regional everyday, despite the fact that a main choice might slide to 2023. Considerable rate of interest in the F-35 by the Czech Republic has actually been validated by J.R. McDonald, the vice head of state of F-35 service advancement at Lockheed Martin, throughout a press conference on the opening day of the ILA Berlin Air Show recently, when he stated:”Initially we provided both the F-16 Block 70/72 as well as F-35A, yet after examining their demands, we have actually gone down the F-16. As much

as we understand, the Czech Air Force demand is for in between 18-24 [airplane] […] You’ll listen to much more regarding it quickly”

. Allow’s see what takes place. About David Cenciotti David Cenciotti is an independent reporter based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and also Editor of”The Aviationist”, among the globe’s most renowned and also review armed forces aeronautics blog sites. Considering that 1996, he has actually created for significant around the world publications, consisting of Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, as well as several others, covering air travel, protection, battle, market, cyberwar, knowledge and also criminal activity. He has actually reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia as well as Syria, as well as flown a number of battle aircrafts with various flying force. He is a previous 2nd Lt. of the Italian

Air Force, an exclusive pilot as well as

a grad in Computer Engineering. He has actually composed 5 publications as well as added to a lot more ones.

Skunk Works Release Details About Top Gun: Maverick’s Darkstar Hypersonic Aircraft

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Skunk Works Release Details About Top Gun: Maverick's Darkstar Hypersonic Aircraft
A making of the Darkstar

included in Top Gun: Maverick.(Image: Lockheed Martin)There’s an enigmatic tip in their words:”Darkstar’s abilities can be greater than plain fiction. They might be truth … “About a week after the long-awaited Top Gun: Maverick Strike the cinemas, the Skunk Works department of Lockheed Martin launched some information regarding the development of the Darkstar hypersonic airplane included in the movie. The participation of the Skunk Works in the task had actually currently been verified by the CEO of Lockheed Martin, James Taiclet, in an article on LinkedIn after the opening night of the movie. Currently, the business added its internet site a web page committed to Top Gun as well as the mystical Darkstar.

Lockheed Martin Skunk Works ® prospers on dealing with apparently difficult job, establishing modern technologies for tomorrow’s obstacles prior to the demand is also determined. From producing radar escaping stealth capacities to X-planes that redefine the sonic boom to numerous cutting edge modern technologies in between, Skunk Works has a lengthy custom of swiftly creating long-lasting development for when it’s required most. When the Top Gun: Maverick group was wanting to forge ahead and also stand real to Maverick’s Need for Speed, Skunk Works was their very first phone call. With the Skunk Works knowledge in creating the fastest recognized airplane integrated with an enthusiasm as well as power for specifying the future of aerospace, Darkstar’s capacities might be greater than simple fiction. They might be fact …

That shutting sentence is fairly enigmatic, as it hints that the layout may not be totally imaginary. Because its opening night in the movie’s 2nd trailer, lots of have actually currently discovered a close similarity of the Darkstar with the idea pictures of the SR-72 hypersonic reconnaissance airplane launched by Lockheed Martin in 2013 (as well as also teased by the United States Air Force in 2014), although the latter was unmanned (however hey, what can please Maverick’s requirement for rate far better than a hypersonic airplane?).

As you may currently have actually seen in the movie, the Darkstar has smooth wind resistant forms, with tiny wings as well as angled upright double tails. The airplane is constructed around a turbine-based consolidated cycle propulsion system, with 2 turbojet/low-bypass turbofan afterburning engines as well as 2 scramjets. There’s additionally an intriguing function that originates from an actual airplane being created today by the Skunk Works, the X-59 QueSST. The cabin, actually, has no onward exposure and also Maverick counts on an artificial vision system to see what’s in front of the airplane.

A making of the frontal sight of the Darkstar.(Image: Lockheed Martin)The website on LM’s internet site proceeds stating that the all the job pertaining to Darkstar was carried out in key, with the Skunk Works collaborating with the Top Gun: Maverick manufacturing group to comprehend their requirements and afterwards silently servicing the layout and also develop up until the idea was exposed to the globe in the movie. The web page additionally includes some brief meetings with several of individuals behind the layout of Darkstar. The style went from a principle to fact many thanks to a group of theoretical developers, designers as well as airplane version programmers, that united their competence to promptly have a sensible airplane forebody version with a functioning cabin, while likewise maintaining it structurally appear throughout recording.

The design they developed was so exact that China was supposedly misleaded in thinking that it was an actual speculative airplane as well as also reoriented a spy satellite to take images of it. The Darkstar in the brand-new @TopGunMovie appears quite sensible forever factor. Jerry Bruckheimer informed me that it was in fact made with Skunk Works designers. The United States Navy informed him China reoriented a spy satellite to obtain photos of it, believing it was an actual speculative airplane. pic.twitter.com/uefNnQYREw– Alex Hollings (@AlexHollings52) May 2, 2022 About Stefano D’Urso Stefano D’Urso is an independent reporter as well as factor to TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. A grad in Industral Engineering he’s additionally researching to attain a Master Degree in Aerospace Engineering. Digital Warfare, Loitering Munitions and also OSINT strategies put on the globe of present disputes as well as armed forces procedures are amongst his locations of knowledge.

United State Navy Conducts Historic Layered Laser Defense Demonstration

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United State Navy Conducts Historic Layered Laser Defense Demonstration
The MQM-107 is struck by the laser. In package: the

IR sight of the interaction.(Photos: Lockheed Martin)The examination noted the very first time the Navy utilized an all-electric, high-energy laser tool to beat a target standing for a subsonic cruise ship projectile in trip. The Office of Naval Research of the U.S. Navy lately introduced a historical presentation of the Layered Laser Defense(LLD)that was executed in February 2022 at the U.S. Army’s High Energy Laser Systems Test Facility at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The presentation noted the very first time the Navy made use of an all-electric, high-energy laser tool to beat a target standing for a subsonic cruise ship projectile in trip. The high-power laser tool was developed as well as developed by Lockheed Martin to function as a multi-domain, multi-platform demo system, efficient in responding to Unmanned Aerial Systems as well as fast-attack watercrafts in addition to utilizing its high-resolution telescope to track close-by air dangers, assistance target recognition and also conduct Battle Damage Assessment after the involvement. The small system has actually been claimed to be much more effective than previous ones as well as includes expert system to enhance monitoring and also targeting. “Innovative laser systems like the LLD have the prospective to redefine the future of marine fight procedures,”stated Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Lorin C. Selby. “They existing transformational abilities to the fleet, address varied risks, and also give accuracy interactions with a deep publication to enhance existing protective

systems as well as boost continual lethality in high-intensity dispute.”Throughout the examination, the ground-based LLD system demonstrator focused the cruise ship missile-representative target drone zipping, firing a high-energy laser beam of light up until the drone was handicapped and also released its parachute. The drone utilized in the examination seems, according to the pictures launched, a U.S. Army MQM-107 Streaker, a multiple-use, turbojet powered,

subsonic target hauling drone largely made use of by the Army as well as the Air Force for screening and also training given that the 1980s. Along with the MQM-107 of this examination, the LLD tracked or rejected a variety of various targets, consisting of unmanned fixed-wing airborne cars, quadcopters as well as high-speed drones agent of subsonic cruise ship rockets.”We’re honored to claim that the Layered Laser Defense system beat a surrogate cruise ship rocket risk in collaboration with the Navy, White Sands Missile Range and also Army High Energy Laser Systems Test Facility groups. Lockheed Martin attracted best-in-class laser tool subsystems from throughout the company, consisting of essential market companion Rolls-Royce, to sustain the whole danger interaction timeline from target discovery to beat,”claimed Rick Cordaro, vice head of state, Lockheed Martin Advanced Product Solutions.”We leveraged greater than 40 years of guided power experience to develop brand-new abilities that sustain the 21st century warfighter. ” The impaired drone releases the parachute adhering to the effective examination.(Photo: Lockheed Martin)While there is no strategy yet to field the LLD after the final thought of the demo program, the examinations sustain a more comprehensive initiative by the marine r & d neighborhood to develop innovations and also lastly area to the fleet a household of laser tools that can attend to several risks. An innovation like LLD likewise enables to utilize a variety of rising choices, such as non-lethal optical”stunning”and also disabling of sensing units, prior to considering dangerous pressure. Besides supplying a accurate as well as rapid mean to involve a hazard, laser tools likewise use streamlined logistics that are more secure for both the ships as well as their teams, as they are not depending on the standard propellants or gunpowder-based ordnance generally discovered on ships. Contemporary high-power lasers run on electrical energy, making them naturally more secure and also decreasing the price per involvement, because

the only consumable palatable thing used up fuel gas run the ship’s power system.”LLD is an instance of what an extremely sophisticated laser system can do to beat considerable dangers to marine pressures,” claimed David Kiel, a previous Navy captain that is a program policeman in ONR’s Aviation, Force Projection and also Integrated Defense Department, which handled the screening.”And we have continuous initiatives, both at ONR and also in various other Navy programs, to maintain structure on these cause the future.”Directed power is presently among the Department of Defense’s vital modern technology locations. The Office of Naval Research plays a crucial function in creating these innovations and also has actually currently fielded demo systems for functional testing. Especially, in 2014 ONR saw the Laser Weapon System checked efficiently aboard the USS Ponce in the Persian Gulf and also, extra lately, the Laser Weapon System Demonstrator fielded aboard the USS Portland in 2021. About Stefano D’Urso Stefano D’Urso is an independent reporter and also factor to TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. A grad in Industral Engineering he’s additionally examining to accomplish a Master Degree in Aerospace Engineering. Digital Warfare, Loitering Munitions and also OSINT strategies put on the globe of army procedures as well as existing

problems are amongst his locations of know-how.

F-35: Capabilities, Missions, Kinematics, Role In Ukrainian Crisis And Beyond. Interview With Billie Flynn

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F-35: Capabilities, Missions, Kinematics, Role In Ukrainian Crisis And Beyond
USAF Demo team during the RIAT 2018. (Image Credit: Author)

“The F-35 was designed to operate in highly contested airspace, with capabilities precisely focused on what we have been seeing in Ukraine today.”

We have had an expansive chat with Billie Flynn recently. When it deals with the Lightning II, no one has Flynn’s knowledge. He is a 5th Generation experimental test pilot and airshow pilot who has been a part of development of the F-35. He authored the famous 2017 Paris Air Show routine that busted many myths about the Lightning II’s performance.

He can be considered a sort of global spokesman for the F-35 program and we interviewed him so as to have his view of the Lightning II stealth aircraft, as it becomes proliferated in Europe and is deployed to NATO’s Eastern Flank amid growing tensions with Russia following the invasion of Ukraine.

<img data-attachment-id="79276" data-permalink="https://theaviationist.com/2022/04/07/f-35-interview-with-billie-flynn/billie-flynn/" data-orig-file="https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Billie-Flynn.jpg" data-orig-size="1780,1402" data-comments-opened="0" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"}" data-image-title="Billie Flynn" data-image-description data-image-caption="

Billie Flynn poses next to an F-35. (Image courtesy Billie Flynn – billieflynn.com)

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Billie Flynn poses next to an F-35. (Image courtesy Billie Flynn – billieflynn.com)

The Aviationist: Given the state of the Polish Air Force – how do you think Poland could integrate the F-35 in the Air Force? What the major challenges would be, when it comes to interoperability between the Lightning II, and the Polish Viper fleet? Where would, in your opinion, the F-35 fit?

Billie Flynn: So, let’s talk about the state of the Polish Air Force. Let’s use the F-16 integration as the first step in this example. I served in Europe and understood the Eastern Bloc’s capabilities. As a Lockheed Martin test pilot, I flew the Polish Block 52 aircraft during their acceptance flights and I’m very familiar with their capability. When the Polish Air Force took on the F-16, it took was a massive step forward to westernize a former Eastern Bloc air force, to (make them) understand how we think in the West and adapt to a very capable, very lethal 4th generation fighter. We see now, years later, how successful the training and the integration has been and how capable the pilots in the Polish Air Force are with that aircraft. So now the Polish Air Force needs to think how to integrate the F-35, building on that F-16 experience. I think that the successful integration of the F-16, and that huge leap forward that has been taken by the Air Force, will be mirrored when we look at the F-35.

<img data-attachment-id="79261" data-permalink="https://theaviationist.com/2022/04/07/f-35-interview-with-billie-flynn/b-52-works-with-polish-f-16s-2/" data-orig-file="https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/7-scaled.jpg" data-orig-size="2560,1829" data-comments-opened="0" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"9.5","credit":"1st Combat Camera Squadron","camera":"NIKON D5","caption":"A Polish Air Force F-16C Fighting Falcon engages in a planned intercept of a U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress during Bomber Task Force Europe 20-1, Oct. 28, 2019, over Poland. This deployment allows aircrews and support personnel to conduct theater integration and to improve bomber interoperability with joint partners and allied nations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Duncan C. Bevan)","created_timestamp":"1572235200","copyright":"Public Domain","focal_length":"98","iso":"140","shutter_speed":"0.0013333333333333","title":"B-52 works with Polish F-16s","orientation":"1"}" data-image-title="B-52 works with Polish F-16s" data-image-description data-image-caption="

A Polish Air Force F-16C Fighting Falcon engages in a planned intercept of a U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress during Bomber Task Force Europe 20-1, Oct. 28, 2019, over Poland. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Duncan C. Bevan)

” data-medium-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-20.jpg” data-large-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-3.jpg” loading=”lazy” class=”size-large wp-image-79261″ src=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-3.jpg” alt width=”706″ height=”504″ srcset=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-3.jpg 706w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-20.jpg 460w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-21.jpg 128w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-22.jpg 768w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-23.jpg 1536w, https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/7-2048×1463.jpg 2048w” sizes=”(max-width: 706px) 100vw, 706px”>

A Polish Air Force F-16C Fighting Falcon engages in a planned intercept of a U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress during Bomber Task Force Europe 20-1, Oct. 28, 2019, over Poland. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Duncan C. Bevan)

It would be essentially a foundation for the next steps, right?

Well, it shows the potential of the pilots, and the Air Force itself, to adopt something dramatically new. Because the F-35 is the most sophisticated fighter in the world today, bar none, dramatically more capable than the Block 52, the Eurofighter, or any other 4th generation jet. This 5th gen capability is astonishingly lethal. Remembering what the Air Force just did this over the past decades with the F-16 should give confidence that it will be able to integrate the F-35 with the F-16. Learning to leverage the F-35 advantages will keep the F-16s survivable. The F-16 is not survivable in the very highly contested world, like the Ukraine, for example, with significant numbers of sophisticated surface-to-air threats that the Russian Armed Forces have. The F-16 would never survive by itself. However, the F-35 was designed to operate in highly contested airspace, with capabilities precisely focused on what we have been seeing in Ukraine today. If you have F-35s, you do not necessarily need F-16s to do the damage that the F-35 would bring. They’re a monstrously capable and lethal platform, against SAMs or any kind of ground defenses or troops. But once Air Dominance is achieved, when you need additional firepower, you use the F-35 to protect the F-16s.

How would the F-35 fit in the Polish IADS – what could it do, how it could become a valid asset. We know that Poland has procured the Patriot MRAD, along with the IBCS network – so the F-35 can be plugged into it. What are the real-life benefits of this?

Here we start talking about multi-domain operations. Surface-to-air capabilities and airborne assets, integrate, operating in a joint, multi-domain effort: Instead of having separate forces – the air force, army, and navy will leverage the notion of joint capabilities. As you see with the F-35 plus the sophisticated anti-aircraft capability like the Patriot is, there is synergy in joint operations. F-35 brings sees so much with its sensors, like no legacy 4th generation platforms which help build a battlespace picture that would not be capable of being constructed with the other assets that would be flown. With that battlespace picture, and seeing the threats that are coming in, the Patriot comes into the equation.

So that really makes the F-35 a high value asset, right?

Truly, it’s more than just a tactical aircraft.

Do you think procurement of communication assets for legacy platforms is key? How could the Vipers talk to the Lightning, using MADL – should a pod be designed for that purpose, or should some new avionics be used – to benefit from the sensor fusion? How big the difference is in the comms department, as opposed to the 4th gen, and what impact does it have on the freedom of data exchange. What impact does it have on situational awareness, compared to the 4th generation aircraft?

Let’s talk about the two different methods of communications with datalinks and sharing information. Link 16, which is the NATO standard, both in 4th gen and 5th gen, is like a big lighthouse – and you broadcast your information everywhere, to everyone on the network. It’s omnidirectional, so it’s everywhere. And anyone can pick up that signal. If you’re transmitting as a part of a datalink network, you can be found, because you are an emitting source. That’s the first problem.

And the second problem is, there really is not a lot of sophisticated data that goes across on Link 16. It is essentially the position data, some elements of what weapons you are carrying and how much fuel you have, and some communications information that goes in the back and forth. But the F-35, and F-22, (each with a different format), the datalinks are designed as low probability of intercept stealthy networks. They are not omnidirectional, but instead uniquely directed on to those aircraft in the network, communicating with each other. Packets of data are sent directly back and forth but not in a continuous stream of data as in Link 16. Intercepting that data would be cosmically difficult to do and that’s how it remains stealthy.

When transmitting through MADL, no one can find the four, or eight aircraft in the network. F-35 is not just sending position data and simple communications but exactly what my aircraft sees in data-fused packets so that everything I see is shared with everyone else and vice versa. Our situational awareness is dramatically more comprehensive than anyone could imagine. Can a 4th Gen platform share this 5th Gen data? At present, no. Those 4th Gen airplanes cannot absorb or process the extraordinary amount of data that F-35 sensor fusion can handle. There is no processing capability in an F-16, or in an F-18, or in F-15EX, or in any other 4th generation airplane. In the future, we can perhaps design some data link that allows us to use a stealthier format to pass on information – and that way it’s not going to expose everyone on the datalink, the way the Link 16 does.

So, basically what you’re saying is – even if there’s a pod, or avionics designed for 4th gen, the remainder of the system would not be able to consume the data that the F-35 produces?

You’ve used the right term. They would not be able to CONSUME the data that the F-35 would transmit.

So, it’s Link 16 for now?

Yes, it’s Link 16 for NATO for now. As we’ve introduced the F-35 to NATO nations, think about Norway, the Netherlands, Italy, the UK and even now with Danish pilots are transitioning to the F-35, there is more incentive for us collectively, to figure out how to pass information to our 4th generation assets, without exposing us in F-35s. We need to get data to those platforms while staying safe in our sanctuary, operating as very low-observable fighters.

<img data-attachment-id="79264" data-permalink="https://theaviationist.com/2022/04/07/f-35-interview-with-billie-flynn/3-14/" data-orig-file="https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/3.jpg" data-orig-size="2048,1365" data-comments-opened="0" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"}" data-image-title="3" data-image-description data-image-caption="

Luke AFB Aerial Shoot with a Lockheed Martin F-35A-2B “Lightning II” (JSF) (s/n 12-5056) and a General Dynamics F-16C Block 42A “Fighting Falcon” (s/n 87-0360) – (Image Credit: Robert Sullivan/flickr)

” data-medium-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-24.jpg” data-large-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-4.jpg” loading=”lazy” class=”size-large wp-image-79264″ src=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-4.jpg” alt width=”706″ height=”471″ srcset=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-4.jpg 706w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-24.jpg 460w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-25.jpg 128w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-26.jpg 768w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-27.jpg 1536w, https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/3.jpg 2048w” sizes=”(max-width: 706px) 100vw, 706px”>

Luke AFB Aerial Shoot with a Lockheed Martin F-35A-2B “Lightning II” (JSF) (s/n 12-5056) and a General Dynamics F-16C Block 42A “Fighting Falcon” (s/n 87-0360) – (Image Credit: Robert Sullivan/flickr)

It can be said then that this is one of the major problems for figuring out interoperability between legacy platforms and 5th gen.

We have a lot of learning, and we are learning rapidly now, that the F-35 is in Central Europe. The F-35s participate in the Frisian Flag exercise right at this day, this week that we’re talking. We are learning how to use a 5th gen asset with the 4th gen platforms that are out there as blue air, as the good guys, and figuring out how best to optimize the F-35 and its lethality, but also how to keep the 4th gen platforms survivable. As we move forward, we will get smarter about exactly what will enable that better – moving forward.

In Poland, there has been this recurring myth on the Lightning II – those who question the procurement say that Warsaw does not need a deep-strike/SEAD/DEAD platform like the F-35 – calling it an offensive aircraft – and that we should procure an air superiority, defensive jet. Is the F-35 really solely an ‘offensive’ strike aircraft?

Well, the F-35 is a truly multi-role platform, in terms of defensive capability and offensive capability. But the aircraft that Poland will get will be able to carry six AMRAAM air-to-air missiles inside the weapons bay plus two AIM-9 or ASRAAM IR missiles, on the outward wing stations; that’s 8 missiles on the F-35 which is as lethal as anything else that’s out there. By the way, the picture of F-15EX with 22 AMRAAMs hides the fact that it could not take off with a maximum load of fuel, plus all those missiles at the same time. And no one has 22 AMRAAMs to load on a single fighter. A realistic loadout is six plus two that you will see in the later lots of the F-35. The F-35 is meant to protect other nations that have bought the jet, which are defensive in nature including Switzerland, Finland, and Canada In Finland, they’re worried about 1400 kilometers of border shared with Russia. In Switzerland, they would never anticipate flying the F-35 outside of their border, their job is to protect the nation. With its exceptional reach and sensor performance, across many spectrums, a very significant air-2-air loadout, and a stealthy platform, the F-35s will give those air forces a dramatic advantage over everything else. It is the most capable defensive platform out there.

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F-15EX (Image Credit: Boeing)

” data-medium-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-28.jpg” data-large-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-5.jpg” loading=”lazy” class=”size-large wp-image-79265″ src=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-5.jpg” alt width=”706″ height=”395″ srcset=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-5.jpg 706w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-28.jpg 460w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-29.jpg 128w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-30.jpg 768w, https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/5.jpg 960w” sizes=”(max-width: 706px) 100vw, 706px”>

F-15EX (Image Credit: Boeing)

Somewhat related to that, here’s another question: there is a lot of talk, currently, regarding the capabilities of the F-35, and the meaning they may have for Poland in the wake of the recent geopolitical events. Some voices in the debate suggest that Poland would be better off procuring the F-15 – as it is faster, flies higher, and acts as a better kinematic platform for launching the missiles, with the mythical FL400 quoted as a reference altitude for the Flankers to fly at. Is this an area in which the F-35 would struggle – as we have seen in Ukraine, most of the strikes are done in a stand-off setting, and some experts claim that one needs a long stick to shoot the shooter? Are Germany and Finland wrong to procure the F-35 for the DCA role? How can the F-35 features be used in a DCA role?

The high-end speed of aircraft when they are clean, slicked off, is interesting. I was at 1.9 Mach when I was a Eurofighter Typhoon test pilot in Germany 20 years ago. I’ve been Mach 2.05 in the F-16 many times. For the F-35, its endpoint is 1.6 Mach. The two previous cases – the Eurofighter Typhoon and the F-16 – they cannot go to their maximum Mach number with their weapons and fuel loaded out. With their electro-optical Litening pods, Sniper pods, and equivalents – they can’t do their max Mach. The max speed of an F-15 – Mach 2+ – will never be achieved with a weapons loadout on the airplane because the drag on the outside will always prevent the jet from getting there. An F-35 will fly 1.6 Mach, with a weapons bay full of missiles and wingtip missiles, and I, as a test pilot have demonstrated that repeatedly. During the envelope expansion program, in my case flying the F-35B, and F-35C models I regularly at 1.6 Mach, with bombs and missiles in the weapons bay, and IR missiles on the outboard stations. F-35 flies 1.6 Mach which is necessarily faster than those two other aircraft.

Kinematics – In attrition warfare, where each airplane can see each other, whoever’s missile gets there first, hopefully kills the other airplane. With two missiles in the air there, one does not get to time out, because the launch aircraft died. You always wanted to be able to shoot first. To do that, you want to go as fast, or as high as you can to give your missile basically the fastest push – so it would go higher, faster, and get there first, before the other person’s missile hits you. That assumes that we both saw each other. And we’ve been playing this cat and mouse game of who gets missiles in the air, and who turns away from each other, to slow the closure velocity of the aircraft, as the missiles come out of each other, making the missiles fly further. It’s an old game of attrition warfare. But what happens when I’m in a very low observable F-35, and cannot be seen by the adversary, is that I to get to shoot my missile wherever I want before he (the other pilot) ever even knows I exist. My missile is in the air. My weapons bay doors have opened fired the missile, closed the weapons bay doors, and I may even have turned around, while my missile is impacting his jet. I am no longer playing the kinematic tactic that has been a part of our world for through all the years of 3rd gen and 4th gen weapons and fighters. I’m not trading kinematics as we did with 4th gen weapons.

<img data-attachment-id="79266" data-permalink="https://theaviationist.com/2022/04/07/f-35-interview-with-billie-flynn/6-10/" data-orig-file="https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/6.jpg" data-orig-size="1024,576" data-comments-opened="0" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"}" data-image-title="6" data-image-description data-image-caption="

Italian Eurofighter Typhoon demo at RIAT 2018. (Image Credit: Author)

” data-medium-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-31.jpg” data-large-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-6.jpg” loading=”lazy” class=”size-large wp-image-79266″ src=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-6.jpg” alt width=”706″ height=”397″ srcset=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-6.jpg 706w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-31.jpg 460w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-32.jpg 128w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-33.jpg 768w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-34.jpg 678w, https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/6.jpg 1024w” sizes=”(max-width: 706px) 100vw, 706px”>

Italian Eurofighter Typhoon demo at RIAT 2018. (Image Credit: Author)

One last thing about the F-15EX: It is a wonderfully capable airplane. It will serve as a defensive capacity in North America which is why the US Air Force is buying it. The F-15EX is the last iteration of this fabulous design that’s been around for decades upon decades. It is based on the Saudi Arabian F-15SA that has since become Americanized. But it’s on its last life and there will be no major upgrades from this point on as opposed to the F-35, whose future growth potential looks out over thirty to forty years ahead. The F-35 remains at the beginning of its lifetime, not like the F-15EX, which is, necessarily, the last version of the F-15, and it does not have decades ahead of it – like the F-35 has.

Moreover, all those nations in Europe would be operating the F-35. Where the dedicated air superiority platform like the Typhoon was present, the F-35 comes in as an addition, but some nations had no air superiority platform in their possession before, like the Netherlands, Denmark, and so on. And they are not looking out to get the Eagle, right?

No, they are not. Use the F-16 example as the way forward when we talk about multi-role interoperability and what the F-35 will be. Remember, I flew the CF-18s in Baden-Soellingen Germany, and in a 4th gen fighter I went to the Tactical Leadership Programme to learn about NATO interoperability. The standard was the F-16. Air forces that had 2nd gen F-104s, F-100s in the case of Denmark, or F-5s, made the leap to the F-16 and learned how to fly and fight using the same type of fighter. Those air forces became great at the air-to-ground mission plus having an air-to-air capability that evolved over time.

The F-35 does those air-to-air and air-to-ground missions plus Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses, Destruction of Enemy Air Defenses, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance. The F-35 performs every mission set. We learned in 4th gen how to fly together, how to share tactics and execute multi-role missions, with the F-16 as our baseline. With the F-35, everyone is flying the same platform, sharing data, between Danish, Italian, German, Dutch, Norwegian, Belgian, British, and American aircraft. But in 5th Gen we are not just dropping bombs, as an air-to-ground airplane or flying relatively simple air-to-air missions. In F-35, we are executing the most sophisticated mission sets ever in our air forces. The term that I use is not multi-role but instead multi-mission.

Regarding the multi-mission capabilities: Is CAS sortie flown by the F-35 very much different from one flown by the Viper? Has a new CAS doctrine been developed for the F-35?

We have learned how conduct CAS in the F-35 led by the US Marine Corps. The core doctrine of the US Marine Corps is to really protect the Marines on the ground and all assets are there to protect those Marines on the ground, fighting the fight. There’s a place for medium altitude CAS, operating in the sanctuary, targeting dropping the weapons required. The reality is that that does not work when the enemy is close. In an Iraq or Afghanistan type scenario, when you need bullets or weapons close to friendly troops, dropping weapons from 25,000 feet will not be acceptable. There’s a reality that you’d probably take any asset that would be brought down to the high-threat environment because you’re protecting troops on the ground.

I guess what I said to you is: medium altitude CAS exists, we’ve learned how to do that in Afghanistan and Iraq, but there may be a time when the troops are in contact and you’re going to come down and use the gun in the F-35, just like the Marines would have to do with a gun pod in an F-35B, and like the A-10 had to do over the years. That’s a lot of risk for an 80-million-dollar F-35 but our job is to protect the troops on the ground. We will become very good at medium altitude CAS, dropping JDAMs, Small Diameter Bombs, Paveway IV in the case of the UK. We will certainly work on those tactics but at some point, you do have to protect the troops on the ground.

<img data-attachment-id="79267" data-permalink="https://theaviationist.com/2022/04/07/f-35-interview-with-billie-flynn/guns-on-deck-history-is-made-2/" data-orig-file="https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/8-scaled.jpg" data-orig-size="2560,1707" data-comments-opened="0" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"9","credit":"3rd Marine Aircraft Wing","camera":"Canon EOS 5D Mark III","caption":"LtCol Joseph Freshour, the commanding officer of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211, accelerates as he prepares to launch from the deck of Her Majesty's Ship (HMS) Queen Elizabeth armed with a Gun Pod Unit (GPU) – 9\/A, at sea on 28 September, 2020. Freshour became the first F-35B Joint Strike Fighter pilot to fly from the deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth while carrying a GPU. This milestone continues VMFA-211's preparation for the United Kingdom's Carrier Strike Group global deployment.","created_timestamp":"1601265600","copyright":"Public Domain","focal_length":"70","iso":"640","shutter_speed":"0.0015625","title":"Guns on Deck, History is Made","orientation":"0"}" data-image-title="Guns on Deck, History is Made" data-image-description data-image-caption="

LtCol Joseph Freshour, the commanding officer of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211, accelerates as he prepares to launch from the deck of Her Majesty’s Ship (HMS) Queen Elizabeth armed with a Gun Pod Unit (GPU) – 9/A, at sea on 28 September, 2020. Freshour became the first F-35B Joint Strike Fighter pilot to fly from the deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth while carrying a GPU. This milestone continues VMFA-211’s preparation for the United Kingdom’s Carrier Strike Group global deployment.

” data-medium-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-35.jpg” data-large-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-7.jpg” loading=”lazy” class=”wp-image-79267 size-large” src=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-7.jpg” alt width=”706″ height=”471″ srcset=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-7.jpg 706w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-35.jpg 460w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-36.jpg 128w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-37.jpg 768w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-38.jpg 1536w, https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/8-2048×1365.jpg 2048w” sizes=”(max-width: 706px) 100vw, 706px”>

USMC F-35 with a GAU-22 gun pod. (Photo by 1st Lt. Zachary Bodner, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing)

Or devise a new CAS platform.

Or devise a new CAS platform. We all love the A-10, there is no conversation ever that any aircraft can truly and effectively replace the A-10, even after all these years. Everyone on the ground will tell you that it has proven itself to be invaluable.

What about the self-defense measures and countermeasures that the F-35 uses – is the difference significant, as opposed to the 4th gen?

Absolutely. I am not going to talk about the specifics of what’s on board. But absolutely, the self-protection capabilities of the F-35 are more high-end that you will find on any 4th gen platform, anywhere in Europe. Absolutely.

Given your experience flying the F-35 and other types – has the myth that the F-35 is a poor dogfighter been busted already, during your Paris Air Show routine, or is this still a major problem? How effective the F-35 is in the BFM scenario – if it comes to it – because we know that this is an aircraft designed not to get into BFM – but still, if you were to take on a Flanker, how would it go?

Yes. We’ve busted the myth about the maneuverability of the F-35, when I flew in Paris, in June 2017, almost 5 years ago. That demonstration crushed the conversation about whether the F-35 was maneuverable or not. We showed the square loop, the slow speed pass at 35 degrees AoA, and performed a pedal turn at 50 degrees AoA, spiraling around at 50 degrees a second yaw rate. There’s only one other aircraft in the western world that can do that – and that’s the F-22 Raptor; it has thrust vectoring and we did not. We showed astonishing maneuverability. In the air show demonstrations shown by the United States Air Force F-35 demo pilots since then, they have reinforced the maneuverability and what the F-35 can do.

Do we still do BFM? We absolutely still train BFM. It’s one of those core skills to teach a pilot about how maneuverable his aircraft is. He (or she) has to get in there, and see how aggressive the aircraft can be, to gain the confidence in their own abilities and how to maneuver the aircraft aggressively and learn what the aircraft can really do. BFM will always be an essential skill we want to teach fighter pilots. Do I ever want to give up all of the amazing capabilities that I had in my F-35 leading into a merge – all the situational awareness I had, all the time I had to complete the kill chain, to kill the adversary, before facing him across the circle in a Top-Gun type fight? I would never want to make that mistake and miss those opportunities.

Would it happen? It would be so arrogant and mistaken to state that there could never be a BFM fight in an F-35. What’s the aircraft like to fight in BFM? I was originally a CF-18 pilot and then later in my career I’ve spent much of my time in F-16s and Eurofighter Typhoons. These fighters have different flight-control logics. The Hornet loves to fly slow. It has that incredible capability in slow-speed maneuvering whereas the F-16, Gripen, Eurofighter and Rafale are all meant as high-speed fighters. They have 9G limits and they’re really meant to go around the corner, chasing the adversary, quickly and fast. They are beautifully flying airplanes, even at the aggressiveness of the 9G. But it’s two different philosophies. One tries to point its nose quickly at the adversary and shoot quicker – like the F-18 – and the other one tries to race around the circle faster – F-16, Eurofighter, Rafale, Gripen.

The F-35 is more like an F-18 – remember the air show demonstrations of 50 degrees AoA, and a square-loop, and pedal turn. That’s what its highlight capability is – different than F-16 or the Typhoon. It is just a different philosophy. Where should the F-35 advantage be? As a minimum, I should enter the combat environment having seen my adversary long before he could see me with a significant advantage even before the fight starts. That’s really what the F-22 had learned over all these years. When they allow themselves to get into air combat, they have a huge advantage, because they’ve seen the adversary much, much earlier than the adversary sees them, so the fight typically ends much quicker like that.

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Billie Flynn flying his Paris Air Show 2017 F-35 demo. (Image Credit: Karol Piętka)

” data-medium-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-39.jpg” data-large-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-8.jpg” loading=”lazy” class=”size-large wp-image-79268″ src=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-8.jpg” alt width=”706″ height=”397″ srcset=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-8.jpg 706w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-39.jpg 460w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-40.jpg 128w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-41.jpg 768w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-42.jpg 678w, https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/9.jpg 1024w” sizes=”(max-width: 706px) 100vw, 706px”>

Billie Flynn flying his Paris Air Show 2017 F-35 demo. (Image Credit: Karol Piętka)

So, the F-35 is more of a nose-position fighter, than a circle fight type airplane?

Yep.

There is a great deal of talk about how low RCS has an impact on air combat. What does it mean for a pilot – in practical terms, when it comes to fighting – in OCA and especially in the DCA setting – let’s talk about some hypothetical, real-life scenarios here?

There really is a transition in how you think – remember, I’m a 4th gen baby, CF-18, F-16, Typhoon – and then I learned how to fly the F-35. It was hard for me to understand at the beginning that the adversary can’t see you. Instead of being defensive as you approach your adversary, assuming that he has already seen you, and always watching for someone entering and attacking us, you’re now looking ahead in the F-35, knowing he does not see you, and knowing that you see everything out there. That switch to the offensive mentality is a complete change of mindset. When you learn to believe, when you learn to accept that you really are invisible, that’s when you become incredibly potent with the F-35. That’s when you start killing the adversary quickly. We have seen, time and again, whether it’s Red Flag exercises, other large-scale exercises, in deployments overseas, or as we saw when I led the F-35 deployment for Finland’s H-X Challenge just how capable the aircraft is. It’s not a fair fight, and I don’t ever want it to be fair. I want us to be 20:1 better than the adversary, or even more dominating than that.

So, was the 20:1 figure in the Red Flag a marketing figure, or an oversimplification?

No, it was not. It’s the real thing. Much like the F-22 demonstrated for so long – nobody beats F-22. They have been dominating for their entire operational life. Now the F-35 shows up and we’re winning better than 20:1 in the most aggressive scenarios against adversary pilots who are better than the Russian pilots ever would be. The western fighters who pretend to be the adversaries, the Red Air as we call them, are more capable than the real Russian aircraft are. And yet, we still win better than 20:1 in the highest contested environments, which are very much mirrored to what we have been seeing in Ukraine now.



Given the proliferation of the F-35 among European users, do you think that the F-35 is on its way to becoming the next standard fighter for NATO, like the F-16 and the F-104 did in the past?

It’s going to be like the F-104 was as a 2nd Gen fighter and the F-4 as a 3rd Gen fighter. The 4th gen NATO standard was the F-16, a franchise program with more than 4,700 of them built thus far and Lockheed Martin building even more. The total number of F-16 built will surpass 5,000 ultimately. Now you see how the F-35 has gained so much traction. It has proven itself with the United States Marine Corps, Air Force and Navy, the Israeli Defense Force, in the UK now. Every user loves what this aircraft can do. There will be more than 3,000 F-35s built over their lifetime. It’s THE platform of 5th gen. It’s a franchise platform, as I call it.

So, a 5th gen. franchise…

Yes, as the F-16 was. The F-16 over all the years evolved from this lightweight fighter, with a very poor radar and only an AIM-9 capability to this incredibly capable, lethal airplane that it is now; the iterations of Block 52, UAE Air Force F-16 E/F Block 60, or the now emerging Block 70. It’s remarkable how the capability of the Viper grew over the years. You will see that same pattern of growth with the F-35 over its lifetime. It is the NATO standard already. Germany with 35 aircraft that are not going to be just nuclear-capable delivery airplanes, replacing Tornado. The Luftwaffe is now going to find out that they have this astonishing, capable new aircraft that does every mission set better than any other platform. Those aircraft will transform and push the Luftwaffe, as happened with other air forces, dramatically higher in capability than they could’ve imagined.

So maybe we’ll see a future German procurement of more F-35s?

I don’t know. I’ve spent many years as a German test pilot, and I recognize how important the industry is there. But I do think the 35 aircraft will transform the Luftwaffe, its philosophy, and what the air power can do in the mission sets that it performs.

For Poland to adopt the F-35, do you think procurement of AEW, and tankers would be a beneficial force multiplier?

I think we will, collectively in NATO, rethink our airborne early warning platforms. Clearly AWACS has done amazing service, it has taken us through the first Gulf War, through my experience in combat in Kosovo in 1999, to Iraq, Syria, Libya, since then, right? But it’s at the end of its days. We see the effective Wedgetail, first in Australia and now has the interest of the USAF. We’ve seen what that kind of capability does and why it’s interesting to have a platform like that. 5th Gen fighters like F-35 gather so much knowledge of the battlespace.

But to ask an individual pilot to orchestrate and be that commander of the overall battle is probably too much for that one person in the cockpit. If that information comes back to a AEW platform that has great capabilities, but also can coordinate the air battle based on all that knowledge gathered by the fighters and then dictate and task the fighters to prosecute the battle plan. In that case you are effectively using a platform to allow them to control the battle much like AWACS did a generation ago back in 4th gen. Does Poland acquire such a platform, or does NATO evolve and pick a NATO platform that all NATO nations can contribute to, as happened for the NATO AWACS in Gelsenkirchen where it has been based for so many years? Yes.

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Royal Australian Air Force Wedgetail AEW platform. (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Sergey Ryabtsev)

” data-medium-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-43.jpg” data-large-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-9.jpg” loading=”lazy” class=”size-large wp-image-79269″ src=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-9.jpg” alt width=”706″ height=”482″ srcset=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-9.jpg 706w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-43.jpg 460w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-44.jpg 128w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-45.jpg 768w, https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/11.jpg 1199w” sizes=”(max-width: 706px) 100vw, 706px”>

Royal Australian Air Force Wedgetail AEW platform. (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Sergey Ryabtsev)

Do you need tankers? Does NATO collectively need more tankers? Absolutely, if they are going to deploy like we ended up in Kosovo, back again 20+ years ago, when we needed airborne refueling assets to allow us to go deep into Serbian territory. Or, in our case today potentially, into Russian territory. The nations, collectively, need tankers. Do individual countries need their own tanker assets? I do not think so because the F-35 has more range and better persistence than any other legacy fighter. The F-35A has 18,500 pounds of internal fuel which is more gas than is carried by a legacy F-16, or Typhoon, or Hornet. All that fuel means that the F-35 can go further, and stay airborne longer, than even the F-16, which has really good legs. I do not know if you need tankers as individual nations. NATO has to look at the tanker assets and decide what the nations collectively need.

So, this goes back to the Eagle: do you say that Lightning has a longer loiter time, station time, than the F-15?

This depends, if we’re asking Eagle to carry 3 fuel tanks, is he loitering now, does he have a lot of missiles on the outside, which adds to its drag? The F-35 has a very efficient, 5th generation Pratt & Whitney F-135 engine. It was designed like a commercial engine, more efficient than any of the 4th gen fighter engines could be. Those 4th gen engines are based on 40-year-old technology, as opposed to much more advanced 5th Gen technology. The F-35 is more efficient when it’s airborne, has less drag, and carries a lot of gas. It can sit on station a long time. I flew a long, long time, being airborne in the F-35 for all those years, a lot longer than I ever did on those legacy platforms like the F-16, F-18, or the Typhoon.

F-35 and legacy airframes (F-16/F-15/MiG-29). How much training is needed to cross between the two?

OK. When I answer this, all of the MiG-29 pilots in Poland that I know, that I knew back in the airshow days, are going to hate me. And they never going to speak to me again. Will the F-16 pilots transition to the F-35? Absolutely which is what happened with many of the air forces that transitioned to F-35 already. We had to take the experienced pilots, from the Netherlands, Norway, as examples, and let them transition to be the tactical leaders in the new F-35 squadrons as their air forces learn to adopt the F-35. Only then can you eventually bring in the young pilots who only know the F-35. But to start you have to transition those 4th gen pilots, who have the airmanship, the tactical leadership and flight-lead experience to be the core of the future squadrons, They are going to be the senior Captains, Majors, and Squadron Commanders. There is no place for the MiG-29 pilots in the sophisticated world of 5th gen, with a transition made directly to the F-35.

Even now the Polish Air Force is separated. There’s very much the Russian, Eastern Bloc mentality vs the Western F-16 cadre. And those fighter pilots do not cross back and forth between MiG-29 and F-16. For any pilot, it is such a leap to go to the F-35. Asking a very capable MiG pilot to transition to this cosmic spaceship is far too much to grasp. Every part of how we mechanize the aircraft in the West is different from how Russians design their aircraft, every part of philosophy of how you fly an airplane, how you design cockpits, how you process information is different. To say to an F-16 pilot: Hey, we’re Lockheed Martin, and we build the aircraft the certain way, and switches the certain way, and now we’re going to give you the next generation of that, there’s a logic flow of our design, of the F-16, as the baseline, that kind of looks like what the F-35 is. This is a logical step forward. That does not exist for the MiG cadre. And I think the MiG cadre will end up atrophying, spending their time in that jet until the MiG-29 phases out. You need to take the F-16 cadre and make them move forward to the F-35. That is going to make me very unpopular with the MiG-29 guys in Poland.

How much training would be needed between the Viper, and the Lightning? Is it a long program?

I think here we shall look at what the other nations have done. Remember our example, like the USAF – with lots of F-16 pilots converting to F-35, we see the Netherlands, Norway, and now Denmark. We’ll see Belgium send their F-16 pilots to convert to F-35 at some point. We know that there’s a transition of experienced pilots, from every F-35-user nation, to be pushed through the F-35 training system. It is a mature pattern right now around for years since that we’ve been out training pilots for these aircraft to be operational. We obviously do not actually know how long it will take for Polish Air Force pilots to transition to the F-35whether it’s 6 months, or 9 months, or 10 months. But there’s a system in place now.

An oddball question, but as a test pilot who actually took part in development of that system: what are your thoughts on A-GCAS? Is it a nuisance, or a great asset? The second part of the question refers to the claims made by Soviet pilots back in the day, as back in the 1990s there was a real fear of fly-by-wire, as the Soviet pilots quoted in the old Wings of the Red Star series stated. They claimed that it can be a thing that prevents them from gaining advantage, if it does not let them conduct a much needed maneuver in given circumstances? Do you think Auto-GCAS would be a problem for a really experienced guy, who knows what he’s doing? Is it a nuisance?

Let me explain so the people reading this will understand. The Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System is this capability where the aircraft senses that it’s going to impact the ground, whatever the terrain is – mountains or the flat ground. And it says: Look, for some reason the pilot has not done anything. I’m going to take control from the pilot, I’m going to orient the aircraft upright, fly away from that terrain and then I’ll give back the control to the pilot. In the period from 2009 to 2011, I was a part of the Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works Team – a very famous name – along with NASA and USAF team that matured the technology for Auto GCAS. That technology was later fielded in the F-16, and more recently in the F-35.

A derivative of that Auto GCAS design went to the US Navy, and it’s going into Super Hornets and legacy Hornets. There are so many guys that we’ve known, in every air force, who have hit the ground over the years, for so many reasons. It’s disorientation, inexperience, of loss of consciousness from pulling too much G. There’s a host of reasons, Controlled Flight Into Terrain as it is called is an indiscriminate killer. It kills young and old, experienced, and inexperienced, day and night and there is no common denominator.

Over the years CFIT has killed so many that everyone else knows someone who has died. And Auto GCAS now is essentially flawless. When it takes over, it is beyond the threshold of what the human could tolerate. As a test pilot during its testing, I could never fly myself past the limit, of when Auto-GCAS would take control from me. When it takes over, you’re really beyond what the human can stand, and you really are going to die. In a pilot’s lifetime, he will likely never see the Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System activation because he’s never going to fly that close to the ground, orient himself upside down or try to kill himself by flying that way. If and when Auto GCAS comes on, it’s meant to save you.

There are YouTube videos of an F-16 where the system activates and saves the life of the pilot who has blacked out and is going to die. Auto GCAS orients the airplane and flies it up away from the ground and saves him. He would have died if auto-GCAS had not be in the jet. So, nuisance? There is no sense of nuisance with Auto-GCAS. It is the most important contribution to the flight safety in the past 50 years, since fly-by-wire technology was introduced in the western world. The Auto GCAS team was awarded the 2018 Collier Trophy which is the highest award in aviation and is given out be the National Aeronautic Association, because of just the potential of this technology to save lives. I think that we should all be thankful that Auto-GCAS is in the F-16, and F-35, it’s now going into the legacy and Super Hornet fleets. Seven of the sixteen fatalities in the Canadian CF-18 over its 40-year lifetime were from hitting the ground where Auto-GCAS could save lives.

As time moves on, Auto GCAS will continue to save many, many lives, and billions of dollars in assets, over many, many years to come.



Let’s hope it goes into general aviation soon as well.

Yes, that’s really the future, right? Like a lot of technologies in the military world – think of the HUD – which we’ve flown for forty years and now, many years later after proving itself in fighter jets see it in modern day GA, or 787, or C-17, or C-130J. You will see an Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance [System] in the 737 at some point. You’ll see it in a Gulfstream jet, Bombardier Global Express or Dassault’s iteration of corporate jets at some point in the future.

Coming back to the F-35:. How does it feel to fly using DAS to look through the airframe? Does it feel weird? Is it a useful concept? How does it compare to Striker or JHMCS?

Distributed Aperture System, as you know, is a meshing of six mid-wave IR cameras that are flush mounted on the aircraft. There are two DAS cameras in the sides, two at the bottom, front and back, two at the top, front and back. Those six cameras build a huge picture that is stitched together, to spherically give an infra-red image around the airplane. Wherever you look in your helmet, you see, when DAS is turned on in the helmet, this infra-red hot and cold contrasted image. As you say – if you look between your legs, underneath the aircraft, you see as if the skin of the airplane is not there. During the day, I seldom found a practical application to have the DAS image projected on my helmet because you and I could look out and see what’s on the ground with the naked eye. But at night, I can speak about flying over the East Coast of the US or over the mountains of California, with zero Moon, and all of a sudden, I see, with perfect orientation, the mountains, highways, electrical power lines, rivers and lakes, and while it’s not daytime acuity, I have remarkable situational awareness and essentially see as I would in the day.

That kind of situational awareness allows me to treat flying at night much more matter of fact as when I am flying during the day. That is not the case without DAS when it is pitch black outside, and I don’t have any orientation at all. DAS gives me a view so I can see everything around me and orient myself better. In the F-35 we essentially treat night-time missions like daytime missions. We fly some place up in the sky, where no one sees us. On our screens, there’s no difference between day to night. With DAS I have better orientation looking around to allow me to feel more comfortable at night than I would in a legacy platform.

If you ask about the Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System, or Scorpion, which is another version of a monocular helmet, I will tell you that they are dramatically less capable than the F-35 Helmet Mounted Display. JHMCS, as a monocular helmet displays on a single eye where my targets of interest are, and in some cases, it gives me some information about the airplane state. But that image is not the stereoscopic view that I get from the F-35helmet. DAS does not exist in the Striker helmet either. Although Striker is, by all accounts, a very capable helmet. I think that when you’re talking about the F-35 helmet, you’re talking another order of magnitude in capability to aid the pilot. The F-35 HMD is seamless for the pilot to wear and use and we’ve matured all of the growing pains over the many years of testing. We have figured out the problems with it along the way and fixed them. You could fly the F-35 without it, but why wouldn’t you want the helmet on your head? I regularly flew 5-hour missions at Pax River in Maryland on the east coast of the US, and over the ocean, doing testing in F-35Bs and F-35Cs. It sat on my head, and I never noticed any part of it being heavy, or out of balance. It was a seamless part for me. I really want the helmet to be able to look out and understand what the display is telling me with all my targets projected so that I do not have to translate that onto a touch screen in front of me.

There is a real enhancement to my lethality and effectiveness, with the helmet on my head.

<img data-attachment-id="79270" data-permalink="https://theaviationist.com/2022/04/07/f-35-interview-with-billie-flynn/f-35-helmet/" data-orig-file="https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/10.jpg" data-orig-size="720,480" data-comments-opened="0" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"419th Fighter Wing","camera":"","caption":"U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Anthony Farnsworth, 419th Operations Support Squadron, poses for a photo to demonstrate the F-35 Generation III Helmet-Mounted Display at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, on July 10, 2021. The display provides the pilot critical information, built-in night vision, and allows a 360-degree view of the aircraft\u2019s outside environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Erica Webster)","created_timestamp":"1625889600","copyright":"Public Domain","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"F-35 Helmet","orientation":"0"}" data-image-title="F-35 Helmet" data-image-description data-image-caption="

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Anthony Farnsworth, 419th Operations Support Squadron, poses for a photo to demonstrate the F-35 Generation III Helmet-Mounted Display at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. (Image: U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Erica Webster)

” data-medium-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-46.jpg” data-large-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-10.jpg” loading=”lazy” class=”size-large wp-image-79270″ src=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-10.jpg” alt width=”706″ height=”471″ srcset=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-10.jpg 706w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-46.jpg 460w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-47.jpg 128w, https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/10.jpg 720w” sizes=”(max-width: 706px) 100vw, 706px”>

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Anthony Farnsworth, 419th Operations Support Squadron, poses for a photo to demonstrate the F-35 Generation III Helmet-Mounted Display at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. (Image: U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Erica Webster)

Is the fitting process slow for the helmet?

Well, it does take time. It’s easy to project an image on one eye. Or either eye. But to get both eyes focused, so I’m not confused, with them being exactly focused, so I am kind of looking at a movie screen – that takes time. We’re much more sophisticated now in how we adjust this, when we fit a new helmet to a pilot. In the beginning, we were not as efficient and had to learn the techniques. Now the process is much easier. For a human to adapt to wearing the helmet is intuitive, and simple to use; Pilots adapt to it right away.

Could you please comment on the photos we have posted of the F-35s without radar reflectors doing patrols over Poland near Ukraine? Is this giving away the signatures to the potential adversary?

I’m not going to comment on that. What I will say though is that having the F-35 on the eastern flank of NATO, where they are deployed now, is a significant deterrent to Russia continuing their ambitions to push further eastward. Because the F-35 represent an extraordinary lethal threat. The F-35 was designed precisely for an environment that we are seeing in Ukraine now and its capacity to neutralize the enemy cannot be matched by any other airplane that flies in anybody else’s air force. So just the fact that the F-35s are there, scares everybody on the other side.

<img data-attachment-id="78346" data-permalink="https://theaviationist.com/2022/03/02/f-35-without-reflectors-over-poland/usaf-fueling-natos-collective-defense/" data-orig-file="https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/F-35-no-radar-reflectors.jpg" data-orig-size="1024,572" data-comments-opened="0" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"22","credit":"86th Airlift Wing\/Public Affairs","camera":"NIKON Z 6","caption":"The 388th Fighter Wing\u2019s F-35 Lightning II fifth-generation fighter cruises in Eastern European airspace, Feb. 28, 2022, in support of NATO\u2019s collective defense. U.S. Air Forces in Europe \u2013 Air Forces Africa\u2019s ability to support and integrate with NATO\u2019s air policing missions continually hardens the alliance\u2019s solidarity, collective resolve, and ability to adapt to a dynamic warfighting environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Edgar Grimaldo)","created_timestamp":"1646024400","copyright":"Public Domain","focal_length":"74","iso":"500","shutter_speed":"0.002","title":"USAF: Fueling NATO\u2019s collective defense","orientation":"1"}" data-image-title="USAF: Fueling NATO’s collective defense" data-image-description data-image-caption="

U.S. F-35A during refueling. The aircraft does not carry any radar reflectors (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Edgar Grimaldo)

” data-medium-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-48.jpg” data-large-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-11.jpg” loading=”lazy” class=”size-large wp-image-78346″ src=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-11.jpg” alt=”F-35 radar reflectors” width=”706″ height=”394″ srcset=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-11.jpg 706w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-48.jpg 460w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-49.jpg 128w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-50.jpg 768w, https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/F-35-no-radar-reflectors.jpg 1024w” sizes=”(max-width: 706px) 100vw, 706px”>

U.S. F-35A during refueling. The aircraft does not carry any radar reflectors (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Edgar Grimaldo)

The Ukrainian air war seems to be an old-styled conflict, with many reported aerial engagements and aircraft flying mainly low level. How would the F-35 perform in such a scenario?

First of all, as we all watch what happens in Ukraine, we are witnessing the incredible courage and bravery of the men and women who are defending their homeland, against the Putin’s war of choice. It is miraculous how they have performed thus far, in really deterring the Russian army and doing damage to the significant force that has invaded. I think this has surprised everybody around the world. They are true warriors and heroes. We have seen that the Russian style of warfare is so different from what we have imagined in the West. We saw glimpses of their complete, indiscriminate bombing, old-school tactics in Syria. This style of warfare is certainly not how we in the West have evolved in our very sophisticated way to use our very potent assets. NATO does not want to be dragged into this war, because bringing us in escalates this beyond the conflict in Ukraine and makes it, essentially on its way to WW3. It’s an escalation we collectively know we could not control. If we consider what a fifth gen capability contribute to a theater, like in the Ukraine, recall that the F-35 was designed precisely to fight this high-end fight.

F-35 with a stealth platform that cannot be seen and excels at the Wild Weasel mission flown for years by the F-16. The F-35 is exceptionally capable at executing the Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses mission set. It would go in and kill every surface-to-air missile threat that was out there, and neutralize all the threats on the ground, and achieve air dominance because it would kill all the air-to-air assets also. Remember: we see them, they don’t see us. It’s like playing football, when one team’s invisible, and the other team is not with a gross advantage on behalf of the F-35. F-35 would see all the enemy air-to-air threats and kill them all, plus completely neutralizing the surface-to-air missile threat to achieve air dominance. From that point, the forces can conduct their air-to-ground war. That’s what the F-35 was meant to do. So, in a parallel world, because we do not want to be dragged into the Ukraine, the F-35 would completely destroy the Russian forces.

<img data-attachment-id="79263" data-permalink="https://theaviationist.com/2022/04/07/f-35-interview-with-billie-flynn/1-34/" data-orig-file="https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/1.jpg" data-orig-size="1024,576" data-comments-opened="0" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"}" data-image-title="1" data-image-description data-image-caption="

F-35 demo team, during RIAT 2018. (Image Credit – Author).

” data-medium-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-51.jpg” data-large-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-12.jpg” loading=”lazy” class=”size-large wp-image-79263″ src=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-12.jpg” alt width=”706″ height=”397″ srcset=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-12.jpg 706w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-51.jpg 460w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-52.jpg 128w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-53.jpg 768w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-54.jpg 678w, https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/1.jpg 1024w” sizes=”(max-width: 706px) 100vw, 706px”>

F-35 demo team, during RIAT 2018. (Image Credit – Author).

Could you comment on EW/ESM capabilities the F-35 has, compared to 4th gen platforms? Many air forces are going to replace their SEAD aircraft with the F-35. Along with the EW and ESM capabilities don’t you think the aircraft still miss a dedicated Anti-Radiation Missile – is AARGM-ER a valid option here?

As I said before. The F-35 was designed for the SEAD mission. It’s designed as an VLO platform that is capable of identifying targets on the ground and neutralizing them. That’s where the weapons capabilities that come already with the F-35, are perfectly suited for the SEAD mission. Does it have a very potent electronic warfare capability, electronic attack capability? We have talked about that in public briefings for a long time and I certainly briefed it in Poland when I came to discuss the F-35’s capabilities. That possesses a very lethal capability in terms of electronic attack – that’s jamming – and also in terms of self-protection. How you use that in combination with a stealth platform is part of the tactic of staying survivable with an F-35 in a highly contested environment. Managing our signature, how you could see us or not see us, is hugely important. It serves no purpose to be stealthy in the radar environment, but emitting electrons all over, and so everyone can see us because we’re emitting electromagnetic energy. How we manage our energy signature is secret to us staying unobserved.

Last question: could you please comment on partner nations using the F-35 just for QRA. Isn’t it overkill? Isn’t it a waste of resources?

No. F-35 is a jet that’s meant to sit on QRA as it does right now in Norway, and by the way when F-35s are deployed to Iceland. I expect the F-35 to be able to be flashed up and sent airborne as quickly as possible. F-35s will sit on QRA in Canada and the United States for NORAD missions. F-35, once it gets airborne its sensors can see further than any other legacy platform and is perfectly suited for that intercept mission.

<img data-attachment-id="79098" data-permalink="https://theaviationist.com/2022/03/24/swiss-f35s-produced-in-italy/f-35-for-swiss-air-force-2/" data-orig-file="https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/F-35-for-Swiss-Air-Force-2.jpg" data-orig-size="1024,572" data-comments-opened="0" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"8","credit":"","camera":"Canon EOS 7D","caption":"","created_timestamp":"1570718163","copyright":"","focal_length":"28","iso":"100","shutter_speed":"0.005","title":"","orientation":"1"}" data-image-title="F-35 for Swiss Air Force 2" data-image-description data-image-caption="

An Italian Air Force F-35A at Keflavik, in Iceland. (Image credit: David Cenciotti)

” data-medium-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-55.jpg” data-large-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-13.jpg” loading=”lazy” class=”size-large wp-image-79098″ src=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-13.jpg” alt width=”706″ height=”394″ srcset=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-13.jpg 706w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-55.jpg 460w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-56.jpg 128w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-57.jpg 768w, https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/F-35-for-Swiss-Air-Force-2.jpg 1024w” sizes=”(max-width: 706px) 100vw, 706px”>

An Italian Air Force F-35A at Keflavik, in Iceland. (Image credit: David Cenciotti)

What should I have asked you that I did not?

We talked about a lot of questions that people have about the F-35. And it’s important that we answer those questions because the doubts remain until those nations start to use the F-35. Once the national pilots come home speak about F-35’s capabilities, the doubts fade. We saw this in the Netherlands, when the Dutch pilots were able to speak about flying the F-35 and how they really believed in the aircraft. They talked about how it really is more effective, more survivable, more lethal, than they ever imagined, and this changed people’s views on the jet and the program. We see that confidence from Italian, Norwegian and certainly from the United States Marine Corps pilots, as the leading F-35 service in the United States. If you went to Israel, you’d find the same answer. So, I think it’s important that we ask all these questions now – to help build the confidence until the aircraft shows up. Because then you are going to find out from the Polish pilots that they think the jet is astonishing. It’s not marketing. It truly is as effective, survivable, and lethal, as we all imagine.

Let me finish by saying: for so many of us warfare was going to be relegated to an asymmetric warfare style for now, and for decades to come. It was the Balkan conflicts in the early 1990s, Kosovo in 1999, Iraq, and Afghanistan, it was. There were never going to be large scale conflicts again. Peace had broken out, post-Cold War, and we were never going to have the world’s largest most powerful forces fight each other again. The world has had a real awakening in the last 35, 36 days showing that this is not true anymore. we see that WW3 is a real possibility. And we are not going to get over the threat of Putin and Russia for decades to come. We in the free world have been threatened. We are collectively stronger, as NATO, than anyone ever imagined. As American, if you want to bring us together, then show us a single enemy, and we really know how to focus our energies. And that’s what Putin has done. He has resurrected and re-energized the unification of NATO. We will together train to the high threat environment, and we will no longer believe that the threat in front of us is just another Balkans conflict, with old surface-to-air missiles. We get it.

The new threat involves highly sophisticated surface-to-air missiles, highly contested airspace. We understand that we have to acquire and possess the most lethal and survivable capabilities now and will maintain the readiness needed to fight a Russian-type threat for decades to come. That’s where the F-35 conversation comes in. Had Ukraine not happened, it would have been hard in many countries to justify the F-35 moving forward. So many people would have believed that buying the F-35 was overkill, hat it was an American strike weapon as it was thought of in Canada. That is not the conversation anymore. The announcement in Canada, on March 28, 2022, validates what we all know, that the world has woken up, and we’ve realized that we are threatened in the western world now. We take that threat this seriously with platforms like the F-35.

Germany even more, right?

Absolutely. Did anyone possibly predict Germany to reverse course on Growler and Super Hornet, to defy what their previous defense minister had said when she vetoed F-35 from even the conversation to immediately commit to 35 F-35s. Germany’s posture reflects what we are all feeling in NATO now. We’re threatened, and we’re going to feel that way for the next decades to come and the F-35 fits perfectly in this construct moving forward.

That sums it up, thank you very much for your time and for the fascinating conversation!

About Jacek Siminski
Standing contributor for TheAviationist. Aviation photojournalist. Co-Founder of DefensePhoto.com. Expert in linguistics, Cold War discourse, Cold War history and policy and media communications.

Take A Look At This Mysterious Shape Spotted At Skunk Works’ Helendale Radar Cross Section Facility

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A screengrab from the TikTok video showing the unidentified shape.

A clip posted to TikTok shows a pretty weird shape on a trailer at the Helendale Radar Cross Section Facility.

A pretty intriguing “object” was spotted in a video posted this morning on TikTok by our friend and OSINT researcher Ruben Hofs. A dark colored shape sitting on a trailer as it is moved at a location that was identified as Helendale Radar Cross Section Facility, in the Mojave Desert, not far from Lockheed’s Skunk Works facilities at Plant 42 in Palmdale, California.

Helendale is an aircraft research facility developed and operated by the Lockheed Martin Corporation and used to measure the radar cross section (reflectivity) of stealth aircraft designs. At this range, as happening at similar sites across the world, prototypical forms tested outside on the range are mounted on poles or hydraulic pylons that rise out of the ground through doors in the runway surface.

“I was just scrolling trough TikTok this morning it was the first video that was shown when i opened the app,” Ruben told us in a message. “At first I thought it looks like a movie prop but soon the construction on the background reminded me of an article about a RCS site. So I went to check it out on google earth and till my surprise it turns out to be the exact facility as the article I have read about on TWZ so that’s when i realized it wasn’t just a good looking movie prop but possibly some kind of proof of concept design that is being tested over there.”

Aircraft to be tested for their RCS are mounted, upside down on a pole: the typical configuration used for testing the radar signature of a plane. Even the most secret planes have been their radar cross section tested while mounted inverted, so that the mount does not interfere with the tests shadowing the section behind it.

Indeed, the one exposed in the TikTok video seems to be some kind of stealthy shape being transported upside down.

“While it is impossible to Identify the concept model, as there are dozens of these shapes when searching the Internet, some people responded with the ‘Next Generation Air Dominance concept’ that seem to match quite nicely if you flip the shape upside down.”

So, provided the clip is genuine, what’s that shape? Impossible to say. For sure, the fact that it was being moved, in plain daylight (although many RCS need to be carried out under the sunlight!), in front of someone filming with a smartphone, without being covered, seems to suggest it was nothing too secret. It may be a quite harmless test article (several are regularly tested) or just a big chunk of some very well known manned or unmanned aircraft. Still, we can’t even completely rule out it is something else, possibly new, kept in the secret for some time and leaked online by accident or on purpose… What’s your opinion? Let us know in the comments section.

NGAD concept (Image credit: USAF)

David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.

It’s Official Now: Switzerland Has Chosen The F-35 As The Next Swiss Air Force Fighter

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An F-35A from Hill Air Force Base, Utah. Four aircraft from Hill deployed to Payerne in 2019 for Air2030 selection. (Image credit: Claudio Tramontin).

The Swiss Federal Council announced Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II is the aircraft selected from its New Fighter Aircraft competition. It won against the Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon and the Boeing Super Hornet.

As some “insiders” had already revealed last week, the F-35 has won the Swiss evaluation to find a replacement for F-5 Tiger and F/A-18C/D Hornet jets currently in service with the Swiss Air Force. As a consequence of the Air2030 evaluation program, the Federal Council has decided to procure 36 F-35A.

“The Federal Council will ask parliament to procure 36 F-35A fighter aircraft from the US manufacturer Lockheed Martin and the procurement of 5 Patriot fire units from the US manufacturer Raytheon. In the evaluation, the two systems achieved the highest overall benefit and at the same time the lowest overall costs. The Federal Council is convinced that the two systems are best suited to protecting the Swiss population from airborne threats in the future as well. It made the decisions at its meeting on June 30, 2021,” says an official Swiss MOD statement that also highlights how they also opted for the American Raytheon’s Patriot ground-to-air defense system over the SAMP/T of the French MBDA and Thales.

The Swiss Federal Council based its decision on the extensive technical evaluation, which included four candidates for a new fighter aircraft (Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Rafale, Boeing Super Hornet and the Lockheed Martin F-35). Interestingly, the F-35 scored first also in term of costs: according to the Swiss MOD the Lightning was the aircraft “with the highest overall utility and by far the cheapest”:

All candidates have met the requirements for Switzerland. For both the combat aircraft and the Bodluv GR [missile] system, the evaluation for one candidate each resulted in the highest benefits and at the same time the lowest costs. The fighter aircraft are the F-35A. With 336 points, it shows the highest overall benefit, with a clear gap of 95 or more points to the other candidates. The aircraft performs best on three of the four main criteria:

• In terms of effectiveness , the F-35A achieves the best result thanks to its pronounced technological lead over the other candidates. Based on this, the F-35A has novel, very powerful and comprehensively networked systems for the protection and monitoring of the airspace. In this way, the F-35A achieves superior information and enables the pilots to be more aware of the situation in all areas than the other candidates. This also applies in particular to the everyday air police service.

In addition, only the F-35A is designed from the ground up in such a way that it is difficult for other weapon systems to detect. The resulting high survivability is a particular advantage for the Swiss Air Force.

In addition, the comparatively simple system operation and the information superiority of the F-35A change the training content and the ratio of flight to simulator hours. As a result, around 20 percent fewer flying hours are required than with the other candidates and around 50 percent fewer take-offs and landings than with today’s Luftwaffe jet aircraft, which will be replaced by the F-35A.

Ultimately, as the most modern weapon system, the F-35A can be assumed to have a technological lead well into the future. Given the intended useful life of 30 years, this is a major advantage over the other candidates.

• In product support , the F-35A achieved the highest rating due to its efficient operation and maintenance, advanced training and high security of supply during the entire service life. This is also due to the fact that the F-35A is produced in the largest number of units and is also used in Europe by the largest number of countries.

• The F-35A also shows the best result in cooperation . It offers extensive opportunities for collaboration in operations and broad access to data and technical resources.

• In direct offset , the concept of the F-35A does not achieve the best result at the time the offer is submitted. The offset obligation of 60 percent of the order value must be fully fulfilled no later than 4 years after the last delivery.

In terms of fleet size, for all four candidates the number of 36 aircraft meets the need to protect the airspace in an ongoing situation of heightened tension. The purpose of the Air Force is to prevent Swiss airspace from being used by parties in a military conflict.

In the last article, we mentioned the concerns about data sovereignty and cybersecurity the selection of the F-35 may imply. The Swiss MOD addressed them as well in their public statement:

“In its decision, the Federal Council also took into account the technological dependencies of the manufacturer and the country of manufacture. Dependencies cannot be completely ruled out when procuring systems. However, it turned out that all candidates guarantee the required data autonomy. With the F-35A, cybersecurity in particular is very well ensured because cyber management, the security of the computer architecture and the cyber protection-oriented measures are comprehensively guaranteed.

As with all other candidates, Switzerland itself determines which data it exchanges with other air forces via data link connections or which logistical data is reported back to the manufacturer with the F-35A. In addition, the aircraft is operated and maintained in Switzerland by the Air Force and RUAG Switzerland.”

Dealing with the costs, as mentioned, the F-35A resulted as the cheapest (with a difference to the second cheapest candidate around 2.16B USD (2B CHF):

In addition to the benefits, the F-35A also achieved by far the best result in terms of costs. Both procurement and operation are cheapest for this aircraft. The procurement costs at the time of the offers in February 2021 amount to CHF 5.068 billion. They are clearly within the specified financial volume of 6 billion francs that the electorate has decided. Even if the inflation is added up to the time of payment, the procurement costs are within the credit limit.

The F-35A is also the cheapest aircraft of all providers in terms of operating costs. The total costs, which consist of procurement and operating costs, amount to around 15.5 billion Swiss francs over 30 years for the F-35A.

The difference to the second cheapest candidate is in the region of CHF 2 billion.

“We are honored to be selected by Switzerland and look forward to partnering with the Swiss government, public, air force and industry to deliver and sustain the F-35 aircraft,” said Bridget Lauderdale, Lockheed Martin’s vice president and general manager of the F-35 Program in a public statement. “With the selection, Switzerland will become the 15th nation to join the F-35 program of record, joining several European nations in further strengthening global airpower and security.”

According to Lockheed, the Swiss F-35 will deliver economic and technical advantages to the nation for decades to come. Swiss industry will have the opportunity to participate in research and development, production and sustainment opportunities that will extend their capabilities into the future. As a new participant in the F-35 program, Switzerland will benefit from Lockheed Martin’s dedication to autonomy and sovereignty in integrating indigenous solutions.

It’s not clear where the Swiss F-35 jets will be assembled: Cameri FACO (Final Assembly and Check Out) facility in northwestern Italy, where Italian and Dutch F-35s are assembled is quite close to Switzerland.

“To date, the F-35 operates from 21 bases worldwide, with nine nations operating F-35s on their home soil. There are more than 655 F-35s in service today, with more than 1,380 pilots and 10,670 maintainers trained on the aircraft,” proudly says Lockheed Martin. In the end, no matter the criticism or issues, the F-35 continues to win all around the world.

Global Patriot

Dealing with the Patriot, the offer for Switzerland was proposed by Raytheon Technologies, in partnership with Swiss-based Rheinmetall Air Defence AG and Mercury Systems, Inc. “We value the trust that Switzerland has placed in our team and in the advanced capabilities of our Global Patriot solution. Our Raytheon, Rheinmetall and Mercury team will work with industry to deliver the Swiss Patriot system to meet Switzerland’s air defense needs and safeguard its sovereignty,” said Tom Laliberty, Raytheon Technologies vice president of Land Warfare and Air Defense.

Patriot will be procured via the Foreign Military Sales process with the U.S. Army; when the sale is complete, Switzerland will become the 18th member of a Global Patriot network, which includes seven other European countries.

David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.