The pro and anti-F35 clash through media in the United States

The times are good for the American defense media. Indeed, after the US Air Force, and on hand the Pentagon, expressed their aspirations to reduce the volume of F35A ordered due to operating costs that are too high and performance inadequate to cope with China in the Pacific Theater, and that of American elected officials have shown much firmer positions vis-à-vis the Lockheed-Martin program, the F35 ecosystem is now leading a vast media offensive to counter the arguments put forward by detractors of the device and the program. And in all likelihood, the confrontation will be merciless.

Support for the F35 program is indeed numerous, in particular in the political sphere and in the corridors of the Capitol. Thus, 10 days ago, 130 Representatives and Senators, both Republicans and Democrats, published a column calling for maintaining F35 orders at their current level, and especially not to reduce it. According to them, the Lockheed-Martin aircraft displays incomparable operational capabilities, giving it a decisive advantage against Chinese or Russian aircraft. In addition, the F35 represents in their eyes a pillar of American military-industrial power, in particular vis-à-vis the allies of the United States, and renouncing the program would greatly alternate American power vis-à-vis these same allies. . As for those who campaign to reduce the scope of the program, or to suspend it, their objective would be above all to reduce defense spending, and therefore to weaken American power. It is true, however, that the vast majority of the elected co-signatories of this forum belong to the States in which the program has the largest economic footprint. From there to see there a relation of cause and effect….

As the Pentagon's Under-Secretary of Acquisitions during the Obama Administration, Frank Kendall has been an active part of the F35 program for much of the previous decade.

These arguments have been echoed by several articles and columns published on the main American defense media, such as Defensenews.com, BreakingDefense.com, DefenseOne.com and the very influential AirForceMag.com, sometimes with attached advertising campaigns, and sometimes going as far as ad hominem attacks against the detractors of the program, in particular against the Democratic representative of the State of Washington and chairman of the defense committee of the House of Representatives Adam Smith, targeted directly by some detractors, with arguments often irrelevant. And they carry, since the future Secretary to the Air Force proposed by the Binden Administration, Franck Kendall, explained to the elected representatives of Congress during his nomination hearing that the solution to lower the costs of maintenance and possession of the F35 was based on the increase in orders and the fleet of aircraft, much to the chagrin of Pentagon leaders.

Such strong support from the future political leader of the US Air Force will be very difficult for the US military to counter. Indeed, as stated by Adam Smith in an article published on Defensenews.com to explain his positions, a large part of the arguments put forward by those who, like him, militate against the extension of the F35 fleet, in particular in the field of the operational limitations of the aircraft, is today covered by secrecy defense, and therefore cannot be disclosed publicly. To be honest, it is true that this argument is a double-edged sword, since it is impossible to verify, in the same way, the reality of the limits the Democratic Representative is talking about.

Deprived of additional tanks, the F35A depends on in-flight refueling capabilities to increase its range and range.

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