Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Washington, DC, United States (4E) – The U.S. Air Force is speeding-up the upgrade of its existing fleet of Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters and is pushing through with its plan to buy more than 2,300 of the stealthy fighter.
Widely considered the most advanced fighter in the world, the F-35 will receive more sophisticated software; more firepower and added combat capability to cope with the nightmare scenario of a two-front war against China and Russia.
On the immediate horizon, however, is the need for the F-35 to lead a potential air campaign against North Korea should the U.S. make good on its threat to launch a pre-emptive military strike against the communist state.
Western military experts are united in saying North Korea’s radar systems are incapable of detecting the stealthy F-35s, which means the entire country will be at the stealth fighter’s mercy.
The U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine variant of the F-35 — the F-35C and F-35B — will be tasked with seizing and maintaining air supremacy over North Korea.
The F-35B was declared combat-ready in 2015 while the F-35C will attain combat readiness in 2018.
Delays during the F-35’s development stage forced Lockheed Martin to initially deliver 108 jets equipped with less advanced software and weapons compatibility. The plan now is to retrofit those jets with updated systems to maximize the F-35’s combat capability.
As for production, more than 900 F-35s are expected to be delivered over the next five years.
“The US is planning to buy more than 2,300 F-35s and does not need all of them to be combat capable,”said Joe Dellavedova, spokesperson for the F-35 Joint Program Office.
“Each service will be able to decide whether they want all their planes to have full capability or if some can be used for training or other.
The F-35 is the most expensive weapons system in U.S. history, with costs exceeding $400 billion over 20 years.
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