National Interest has what (sorry guys calling it like I see it) a puff piece on F-35 upgrades. The Director of the F-35 Integration Office waxes on about how the airplane is being upgraded and is planned to be upgraded to meet advanced enemy air defenses. The problem is that he let slip an uncomfortable truth. Check this out.
“They have got these digital SAMS (surface-to-air-missile-systems) out there that can change frequencies and they are very agile in how they operate. being able to replicate that is not easy,” Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, Director of the F-35 Integration Office, told Scout Warrior in an interview.Interesting.
Surface threats from air defenses is a tough problem because emerging threats right now can see aircraft hundreds of miles away, service officials explained.
Furthermore, emerging and future Integrated Air Defense Systems use faster computer processors, are better networked to one-another and detect on a wider range of frequencies. These attributes, coupled with an ability to detect aircraft at further distances, make air defenses increasingly able to at times detect even stealth aircraft, in some instances, with surveillance radar.
We know that the planes raw performance is nothing special. It equals legacy airplanes (maybe) in speed, maneuverability and flying height. We know that its avionics is at BEST a mixed bag. EOTS is a couple of generations behind the latest SNIPER or LANTRIN pods. Its AESA MIGHT equal what is already flying on 4th gen fighters so tactics designed for it can be replicated by current aircraft with AESA setups.
Its vaunted information sharing is duplicated across the world by every airplane in frontline service. Networked warfare has moved forward while the F-35 has been in development Purgatory.
What the F-35 supposedly had (that was its saving grace) was stealth. Now we get a tidbit of truth from people inside the program.
Air Defense radars are getting good enough to see stealth...and we can expect that improvement to continue.
What happens when dogged determination turns into a religion and blind faith replaces sound defense policy? I don't know but we're about to see.