Not Your Mother’s Jet

The F-35 strike fighter will be a lynchpin of security in the Asia-Pacific region in the coming years for the United States and its allies, said Robbin Laird, military and security analyst. “This is not your mother’s jet,” he told AFA’s Pacific Air & Space Symposium in Los Angeles last month in emphasizing how “radically different” the F-35 will be. In addition to the F-35’s sophisticated technology, it’s also significant that regional allies are acquiring the jet at the same time as the United States and will be establishing operations hubs and training ranges, said Laird. “You will end up with more F-35s in the Pacific being allied than American,” he said during his Nov. 22 presentation. The airplane’s capabilities will help to usher in new concepts of operation built around robust, distributed assets, he said. “We usually think of technology as the driver . . . but in fact we are entering a decade where the CONOPs changes are as important as the technologies,” he said. Appearing with Laird, Ed Timperlake, senior fellow with Technology Assessment and Security, said the F-35’s sensors and ability to share data would give each pilot access to unprecedented levels of real-time information in the cockpit.