According to the concept presented during the MSPO 2015 event by Steve Over, Lockheed Martin’s director responsible for the international business development of the F-35 programme, the combat capabilities of the 5th generation jets cannot be compared to the previous generation fighters, such as the F-16.
Thanks to the stealth technology, and thanks to the fact that all of the elements of the fighter, including the armament, fuel or sensors, are concealed inside the fighter, the aircraft should have greater chances of surviving the combat conditions in a dense air-defence environment.
Another feature of the F-35 fighter is visible – according to the manufacturer – in utilization of advanced multi-spectrum sensors, including 6 infra-red cameras. The devices, along with the Rockwell Collins HMD III helmet, make it possible to observe the whole area around the aircraft, including an option of seeing “through” the airframe, e.g. to be aware of what is happening under the jet.
F-35 is also fitted with the AESA AN/APG-81 active phased electronic array radar which makes it possible to track air and land threats at the same time. The jets are going to operate using a “wolf-pack” tactics – within distances of several kilometres between the aircraft, which makes it possible, for a small quantity of fighters, to control vast areas. The F-35 Lightnings are going to penetrate the enemy defence systems, making it possible for the 4th generation airframes to carry out their tasks.
As it is being stressed by Lockheed Martin, the F-35 programme is very advanced at the moment. So far the cost is contained in an amount of USD 600 billion. In 2016 more than 200 jets of this type are going to be used. Until 2020 650 examples are going to be operational, more than 100 are going to be received by the foreign users. The price of the jet is being reduced, as the production progresses. Lockheed Martin offers the F-35A jets for Poland, and offset is not being excluded – similarly as in case of the F-16 jets – should the Lightning II fighters be selected by Poland. At the same time, the manufacturer declares that the jets sold abroad are not going to differ from those used by the USAF.