Monday, February 25, 2013

My F-35 Question

A question on the F-35:

Perhaps more importantly, rules of engagement are inherently political. Civilian leaders, and their politically attuned senior military counterparts, will draw up guidelines for combat in context of political, not military, necessity. If the F-35 can only operate successfully in BVR context (and to be sure the networking capability of the F-35 make “BVR” a different proposition than with past aircraft), and if the civilians restrict the ability of the aircraft to operate under such conditions, then the utility of the fighter comes into grave question. This question is hardly academic, as potential peer competitors of the U.S. (including Russia and China) will undoubtedly take political steps to limit the ability of the F-35 to fight at full capability. Again, this may be even more true of the partner countries in the F-35 program, which often suffer from more rigorous political restrictions that U.S. forces.
Is the answer:

  • The surveillance capabilities of the F-35 and associated systems are so impressive that the politically problematic aspect of BVR engagement disappears.
  • The services expect to be able to muscle civilians into accepting their preferred ROE (perhaps using the F-35 as a cudgel in this effort).
  • The integration of technological means with political ends has not been fully worked out.
  • Some of the above.
  • Other.

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