F-35 Will Remain Advanced

Despite its very long gestation period, the F-35 will emerge as the most powerful air combat system in the world, Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall said Monday at the Farnborough Air Show. In a press conference, Kendall said “it’s important to recognize that this is not a one-sided game,” and that a dedicated team of Pentagon specialists have been red-teaming the F-35 from the start, trying to think of “ways to defeat what we are creating.” Their work has been folded back into the program on a regular basis, so the upgrade program now taking shape will not be the first time the jet’s capabilities will be re-thought, Kendall said. The US no longer can rest comfortably with the thought that its technology far overmatches any competitor, he said. “Those days are over,” Kendall warned, and it will require constant red-teaming to stay ahead of adversary surprises. He also said that anyone in government who believes that programs can be developed problem-free “just don’t understand this business.” Yes, the US could buy low-risk, off-the-shelf equipment “with no overruns. But we wouldn’t be the best” because US technology would not exceed that of competitors, he said. “You have to take some risk” to gain advances, he added.