90 Miles From Tyranny : F-35 over Washington: An excellent message to friend and foe

Thursday, June 13, 2019

F-35 over Washington: An excellent message to friend and foe

President Trump was right on Wednesday to order an F-35B strike fighter overflight of Washington, D.C. The display was a gesture to visiting Polish President Andrzej Duda. Poland intends to buy a number of F-35s.

But this flypast also sends a broader message to the world.

But first, it's worth noting why some in Washington were alarmed by the loud noise that the jets produced. That noise was a result of at least one of the jets employing its vertical lift capability. Specific to the Marine Corps-operated F-35Bs, this capability allows slower movement for more effective air-ground support. It also allows the Marine Corps to use Amphibious Assault Ships as de facto aircraft carriers.

Here was the view from the Washington Examiner's rooftop:

Yes, it's loud. But I suspect the F-35B operation in vertical lift mode was deliberate. Educated observers will know that the great noise and obvious engineering power sits alongside the world's finest combat aircrews. In that, the flypast reminds American allies that it's good to be America's friend. It reminds American enemies that it's risky to be our adversary.

The F-35s are now excellent aircraft. Yes, the program has significantly overrun in costs. And yes, the F-35s have had development problems for which their manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, should have been penalized more by the Pentagon. But the vast majority of these issues have now been addressed.

The F-35 fighter-bombers now mean an American ability to annihilate enemy aircraft and penetrate highly advanced air defense networks such as that of the Chinese navy's air defense envelope and the Russian S-400 system. In turn, the U.S. has new means of destroying adversary strongholds in the early stages of a conflict. As important, the shared purchase of F-35s by close American allies such as Poland means a more effective battle force. Operating alongside F-22 air superiority fighters, the U.S. military is now more able to...

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