Two academic studies based on the infamous Rand airpower analysis are out today.
Both illuminate both sides of the polarized debate about the F-35′s relevance as a future warfighting tool. According to these analyses, the F-35 is either the vanguard of a new way of fighting air battles or a woefully underachieving dog of a dogfighter.
The anti-F-35 crowd is represented by self-styled Australian airpower expert Carlo Kopp. He writes:
It is now abundantlyclear that the Joint Strike Fighter is not going to be viable in BeyondVisual Rangeair combat, just as it was clear from the outset that it would neverbe a serious player in Within Visual Range air combat.
But representing the pro-F-35 side is Robbin Laird, who has served as a close adviser to both former Secretary of the Air Force Michael Wynne and the US Marine Corps aviation leadership. His study is entitled, “Reflections on the RAND Project Air Force Brief: Air Combat: Past, Present and Future”, and here’s an excerpt:
In the new concept of operations driven by the 5th generation aircraft, the combat and strike power of a single aircraft within the operation is not defined by what it carries itself but by its ability to direct and rely upon network partners. Any assets within range of an identified target, which carries weapons, can be directed to strike by the 5th generation aircraft, whether this weaponry is carried by air, ground or maritime platform.