The US Air Force claims that the F-35 is “now ready to answer a combatant commander’s call for it’s unique capabilities to fight ISIS.” http://www.scout.com/military/warrior/story/1692143-air-force-f-35-is-ready-to-attack-isis
Which is really ironic, because what the Combatant Commander is actually calling for is an aircraft that entered service at least eight years before the longest current serving service member in the entire military, a U2 spy plane: https://www.defensetech.org/2017/02/03/aging-u-2-hits-milestone-gathering-intel-isis/
I would say that the “unique” characteristics of the F-35 really aren’t in that much of a demand, especially when the logistical footprint to keep the “Albino Elephant” in the sky are so extensive and the Combatant Commander knows that the budget for operations isn’t unlimited. Remember, when you request a capability the upkeep for that capability comes out of your operational funds. Makes the old U2 with all it’s known maintenance costs a much more attractive option for the Commander to request.
Then again, it’s not like we need a stealth pocket bomber to go after ISIS, as drones have pretty much uninterrupted access over the sky, and regular fighters have done just fine, only requiring an F22 escort when the Russians came to play. Notice no one is asking for F35 escorts…
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