The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter — a stealthy, high-tech, fifth-generation strike fighter — may also become a major player in close-air support (CAS) missions. Last week, Defense News-Intercepts talked with the U.S. Air Force general who is leading the testing and preparation for the CAS mission.
Let’s get the disclaimer out of the way: the military aviation community is divided as to whether the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II can be an effective CAS platform. A lot comes down to the relative merits of fast-jet CAS versus the kind of low-to-the-ground, persistent CAS practiced by the A-10 or AC-130. (We wrote more about this in January.) Neither side is willing to give ground — perhaps understandably, because the question can truly be answered only when ground troops, under fire, call for help.
For the complete story by Aaron Mehta of DefenseNews.com, click here.
Photo by USAF