The F-35 is going to be the real backbone of the US Defense in the near future. This is the most expensive weapons program, and there is a reason for this. The F-35 is key for the US to remain ahead of adversaries, in the sky, but also in the technological race. Testifying before the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Defense, Gen. Mark A. Welsh III said air superiority is critical to the nation’s security and how the U.S. military plans to fight. “The air superiority this nation has enjoyed for 60 years is not an accident and gaining and maintaining it is not easy,” Welsh said. “It requires trained proficient and ready Airmen and it requires credible, capable and technologically superior aircraft. I believe the F-35 is essential to ensuring we can provide that air superiority in the future.” The F-35 is an unprecedented fifth generation fighter combining stealth technology with fighter speed and agility, fully integrated sensors and network enabled operations, and state-of-the-art avionics. However, design issues and production costs have put the F-35 program in real jeopardy. Welsh said America needs the F-35 to stay a step ahead and to “make sure the future fight is an away game and to minimize our risk to our ground forces when conflict inevitably does occur.” “The F-35 is the only real, viable option to form the backbone of our future fighter fleet,” he said. “The F-35 remains the best platform to address the proliferation of highly capable integrated air defenses and new air-to-air threats.” One thing is sure, the F-35 is a real beauty.

After many months on the ground, we are pleased to see the F-22 Raptor resuming normal flight operations. Some modifications were completed, especially to life support equipment, and particulary breathing systems. Completion of this task eliminates the need to restrict flight operations to remain within a 30-minute flying distance from an airfield suitable for landing. F-22 crews have also resumed their aerospace control alert mission in Alaska after the Automatic Back-up Oxygen System was installed in Elmendorf-based aircraft. Altitude restrictions have also been incrementally removed for F-22s that have received the ABOS modification. Altitude restrictions for training flights remain for non-ABOS equipped F-22 aircraft; however, those restrictions will be removed as each aircraft is modified. The return to normal flight operations hinged on completing eight near-term actions identified by the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board, successful fielding of the modified Combat Edge upper pressure garment valve, and fielding of the automatic backup oxygen system. All actions identified by the SAB were completed in December 2012. Fielding of the modified Combat Edge upper pressure garment valve and related pieces was completed in January. The Lockheed Martin/Boeing F-22 Raptor is a single-seat, twin-engine fifth-generation supermaneuverable fighter aircraft that uses stealth technology. It was designed primarily as an air superiority fighter, but has additional capabilities that include ground attack, electronic warfare, andsignals intelligence roles. Lockheed Martin Aeronautics is the prime contractor and is responsible for the majority of the airframe, weapon systems and final assembly of the F-22. Program partner Boeing Defense, Space & Security provides the wings, aft fuselage, avionics integration, and training systems. The aircraft was variously designated F-22 and F/A-22 during the years prior to formally entering USAF service in December 2005 as the F-22A. Despite a protracted and costly development period, the United States Air Force considers the F-22 a critical component of U.S. tactical air power, and claims that the aircraft is unmatched by any known or projected fighter. Lockheed Martin claims that the Raptor’s combination of stealth, speed, agility, precision and situational awareness, combined with air-to-air and air-to-ground combat capabilities, makes it the best overall fighter in the world today. Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, former Chief of the Australian Defence Force, said in 2004 that the “F-22 will be the most outstanding fighter plane ever built. The aircraft was grounded after serious faults in its oxygen and breathing systems which caused pilots to black out. These problems are fixed now, allowing the aircraft back in the air.