Gen. Mike Hostage is Commander, Air Combat Command, Langley Air Force Base, Va. The command operates more than 1,000 aircraft, 22 wings, 14 bases, and more than 300 operating locations worldwide with 79,000 active-duty and civilian personnel. In this role, Gen. Hostage will command the largest group of F-35’s in the world.
Gen. Hostage recently conducted an extensive interview on Breaking Defense, outlining the capabilities of the F-35 in the early days of combat, as well as the aircraft’s cyber or electronic warfare capabilities.
In the first part of Breaking Defense’s coverage, Gen. Hostage discusses the effectiveness of the F-35 in the first 10 days of a combat situation, as well as the comparisons between the F-35 and F-22 when it comes to stealth and dog fighting capabilities. From the interview:
“The F-35 was fundamentally designed to go do that sort of thing [take out advanced IADS]. The problem is, with the lack of F-22s, I’m going to have to use F-35s in the air superiority role in the early phases as well, which is another reason why I need all 1,763. I’m going to have some F-35s doing air superiority, some doing those early phases of persistent attack, opening the holes, and again, the F-35 is not compelling unless it’s there in numbers,” the general says. “Because it can’t turn and run away, it’s got to have support from other F-35s. So I’m going to need eight F-35s to go after a target that I might only need two Raptors to go after. But the F-35s can be equally or more effective against that site than the Raptor can because of the synergistic effects of the platform.”
The F-35, critics say, can be spotted by low frequency radar (as can almost any aircraft, no matter how stealthy) and isn’t as good at dogfighting as is the F-22. But Hostage says, as do other senior Air Force and Marine officers, that an F-35 pilot who engages in a dogfight has probably made a mistake or has already broken through those IADS lanes and is facing a second wave of enemy aircraft. The F-35, he says, has “at least” the maneuverability and thrust and weight of the F-16. The F-35 is to the F-22 as the F-16 is to the F-15. The latter aircraft are the kings of air to air combat. The F-35 and the F-16 are the mainstay of the air fleet, designed for both air-to-air and air-to-ground attacks.
The two-part interview with Gen. Hostage can be viewed at the following links:
Please visit F35.com for more information on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.