Ved Red Flag 17-1 var F-35 altså de andre fly overlegen. For hver F-35’er der blev ramt, fik flyet ram på 20 “fjender”. I første omgang oplyste US Air Force, at “kill ratio’en” kun havde været 1:15, men det er nu blevet opjusteret til 1:20.
Det sædvanligvis velorienterede site The Aviationist opsummerer indsatsen således:
“Three words summarize the role of the F-35A during this Red Flag exercise; stealth, integration and flexibility. To a greater degree than any previous aircraft in U.S. Air Force history the F-35A Lightning IIs from Hill AFB acted as sensors, guidance platforms and strike assets almost simultaneously, and they did so in a threat environment that would have been previously impenetrable without significantly greater loses. They also performed in an air-to-air role: although we don’t know the ROE (Rules of Engagement) in place for the drills nor the exact role played by the F-22 Raptors that teamed up with the Lightning II throughout the exercise, the results achieved by the F-35, appear to be impressive, especially considering the 5th Gen. aircraft’s additional tasking during RF.”
The Aviationist fortsætter sin gennemgang af F-35’erens indsats:
“The recently revealed reports suggest that large-scale F-35A strikes were conducted in a highly contested/denied aerial environment. Air Force F-35As penetrated denied airspace and directed standoff weapons from B-1B heavy bombers flying outside the denied airspace. Those strikes destroyed simulated surface to air weapons systems. This suggests some of the exercises were an example of a “first day of war” scenario where Air Force F-35As spearheaded an attack on a heavily defended target set both in the air and on the ground. The F-35As entered the denied airspace and engaged both aerial and ground targets, not only with weapons they carried but also with weapons launched from other platforms such as the B-1Bs as they loitered just outside the threat environment acting as “bomb trucks.”
Øvelsen havde særligt fokus på at teste de forskellige “5. generations-platforme” sammen.
“This is the first time we’ve taken the F-22, the F-35 and all of those capabilities the Air Forces of the U.S., the United Kingdom and Australia can bring to bear, and put them together in the airspace at the same time to fight together against a realistic threat,” siger U.S. Air Force Col. Peter Fesler, the Red Flag Air Expeditionary commander and 1st Fighter Wing commander at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia.
Det hele kan selvfølgelig vise sig at være det rene spin fra US Air Forces side. Men hvis det ikke er, så tegner det sgu meget godt. Så må vi bare håbe Lockheed Martin snart får styr på softwaren og de øvrige tekniske udeståender. For kæmpe og dominere himlen – det kan flyet tilsyneladende godt finde ud af.
I forbindelse med Red Flag 16-2 sidste år besøgte nytkampfly.dk Nellis Air Force Base, som danner rammen om Red Flag-øvelserne. Gense billederne og videoerne her.