Fifth generation F-35 fighter jet is more and more active in the Middle East
WARSAW, (BM) – The American and Israeli F-35 pilots conducted joint exercises for the second time in the use of the latest fifth generation aircraft, learned BulgarianMilitary.com citing the Polish news agency Defence24.
The cooperation in the air included the cooperation of the F-35 itself, but also cooperation with, for example, flying tankers and machines intended for airspace control.
The fifth generation F-35 aircraft have their time over the Middle East, and recently numerous exercises with the participation of these machines have been conducted in the area of responsibility of the US Central Command (US CENTCOM).
Their striking example is the joint US-Israeli maneuvers “Enduring Lightning II”. On the part of the Israeli aviation, the F-35I “Adir” machines belonging to the 140th Squadron IAF and the Gulfstream machines of the “Nachshon” 112nd Suadron IAF appeared in the air.
The latter are intended to collect intelligence and support airspace command and control. The Americans launched the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing’s 421st Fighter Squadron F-35A Lightning II aircraft, supplemented by the KC-10 Extender flying tankers belonging to the 908th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron.
American and Israeli pilots practiced a number of different scenarios covering the key capabilities of the F-35, including aerial refueling. Both sides played their abilities in the area of command and control with the forces operating in the air. The exercises were carried out on August 2 in regions above the southern part of Israel.
Earlier, on July 30, US CENTCOM announced that the 421st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron flying the F-35A Lightning II at the beginning of last month was put into alert mode for the first time in the area of responsibility of this geographic command.
Allowing during the exercises to obtain the necessary information for the U.S. Air Force Central Command Air Operations Center. At the same time showing that the F-35A Lightning II machines have become a full-fledged tool in the entire range of American operational capabilities, in addition to such a specific region as the modern Middle East.
F-35 update news
As we reported on July 27 Lockheed Martin has published the F-35 Lightning II fighter upgrade program until 2030. The version will be called Block 4 and will be updated gradually – mainly due to delays in the development of the necessary software.
The aircraft will need a lot of programs, since one of the key changes will be the 25 times increased computing capabilities of the F-35 on-board computers. This is due to the processing of information from a much larger number of active and passive aircraft sensors.
The 2030 fighter will be able to carry in the fuselage compartment not four AIM-120 air-to-air missiles, as it is now, but six thanks to the new Sidekick launch system.
The aircraft’s arsenal will be replenished with AIM-260 missiles with an increased flight range and a specialized missile for destroying radars. They all have the same length as the AIM-120.
Another reason why Lightning II needed much more powerful computers is unmanned slaves with artificial intelligence. They, of course, are also not without electronic brains, but the fighter’s computer will develop general tactics and control their actions. The drones are planned to be used for both striking and defense. For example, they will distract missiles aimed at the F-35.
The new update is more than needed by America, but will it solve the financial problems?
America has for many years used the flagship F-35 as the most successful and high-tech stealth project in military history, not only for the US military but for the world as well. Last year, as we reported, information that is worrying about the future of the F-35 program is increasingly emerging.
In a recent hearing in the House Armed Forces Committee, it became clear that only one part of the aircraft is capable of performing combat missions, exactly one-third of the entire available F-35 fleet.
The problems are serious and have been around for many years. The Pentagon and Lockheed Martin are still litigating who owns and is entitled to the F-35 program codes and this is the one of the problems.
Washington’s political circles continue to argue that the state is making too much concessions to the manufacturer, which could prove to be a serious problem that would determine Lockheed Martin as a monopolist in the military market.
Also, the Pentagon was complaining of damages and defects, which are already starting to happen frequently. According to military analysts at the Pentagon, the F-35 has a long time to respond to military capabilities and targets for their implementation.
The source of this information was Bloomberg’s US edition and a statement by Robert Becler, responsible for US weapons testing. According to him, planes are failing more often than acceptable and maintenance costs are increasing significantly.
Increasing support costs are cited by increasing threats from Russia and China, as well as from Islamic terrorist groups. At least such an explanation was given some time ago by US President Donald Trump.
All this leads to a clear and long silent fact – the program has problems maintaining aircraft combat readiness. Spare parts for all aircraft are missing, many of them do not receive timely system updates due to poor, timely or lack of funding. There are even problems in the logistics that have to transport planes to accomplish tasks across the globe.
All of these internal conflicts are not good for the US F-35 Navy, but many partners are also likely to begin to hold the US accountable for the manufactured F-35s that are in service in many other countries.
Australia, for example, has found a problem with corrosion. We recall that on May 2019 the Australian defence officials have been urged to consider round-the-clock dehumidification systems at an Air Forcebase near Newcastle to curb the corrosion risk for its fleet of Joint Strike Fighter jets.
Auditing and consulting firm KPMG was tasked with doing a report on the “intergranular corrosion mitigation options” for the 72 F-35A fighter jets, bought by the Australian Defence Force for $17 billion.
Concerns over the risk of metal stress and cracking were raised in 2017, the year before the next-generation fighters were due to come to Australia.
The FOI report obtained by the ABC said of the three bases where the jets would be based, only Williamtown, near Newcastle, had been identified as having potential problems. The risk is posed by salt and other climatic conditions.
On the other hand, Turkey’s withdrawal from the program due to the purchase of the Russian C-400 proves to be an even greater challenge to the existence of the F-35 program.
Experts estimate that Lockheed Martin’s losses from this US government action would be close to $ 1 billion. The task of the US is to find a replacement for Turkey to produce with the same quality and at the same low price if it wants to keep the F-35 competitive in international markets.
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