Carlisle Expects F-35 to Join Anti-ISIS Fight

London Air Combat Command boss Gen. Hawk Carlisle said he has “absolutely no doubt” the F-35 will be deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. Speaking Wednesday during Defense IQ’s International Fighter conference in London, Carlisle emphasised the stealth fighter’s data-fusion and ISR capabilities could be key attributes in the anti-ISIS fight. “When you look at Iraq and Syria today, what’s going on on the ground, the players that are in the airspace—it’s like nothing we’ve fought before,” he said. “It’s incredibly complex. Airplanes like an F-22 or an F-35, because of the situational awareness that they provide, the information they relay, the real-time sensor suites they have, their ability to do things in airspace that other airplanes cannot do, makes them incredibly valuable in the fight. I see a very big place for the F-35 in that fight.”

Although the USAF has only recently declared initial operating capability with the F-35A, Carlisle said the platform is already in demand by other branches of the military. He also confirmed his intention to deploy the aircraft to other theaters at the earliest opportunity. “You will see that airplane moving around the globe as quickly as I can possibly get it moving around the globe,” he said. “It’ll include going to the Pacific, it’ll include going to the Middle East, it’ll include Europe. I’ve talked to [Gen. Michael] Scaparrotti [commander, US European Command], I’ve talked to [Gen.] Vince Brooks [commander, US Forces Korea], I’ve talked to [Adm.] Harry Harris [commander, US Pacific Command], I’ve talked to [Gen.] Joe Votel [commander, US Central Command]—every one of them is really eager to have that airplane out there, and I’m going to get it out there as soon as I can.”