By Wendy Rogers, Lt Col USAF (ret)
Horrific terror attacks on America and our NATO allies in recent weeks should serve as powerful reminders of the importance of maintaining our country’s edge in matters of national defense. As a career Air Force pilot who flew worldwide airlift and humanitarian missions, I understand firsthand the importance of ensuring our military is equipped with the absolute best technology we have to offer.
That is why, as a nation, it is critical we reaffirm our support to maintain full funding for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program. America’s air superiority remains critical, not only to protect our brave men and women overseas, but to effectively fight enemies like ISIS – a terror threat which is metastasizing.
As ISIS spreads globally, the battlefield continues to change, too. We’re fighting a new kind of war, one that will likely be redefined time and again throughout the 21st Century.
America must innovate and upgrade our defense capabilities to have a meaningful impact in the Middle East and elsewhere. The fifth-generation F-35 fighter jet is quite simply the platform of future, representing the culmination of years of cutting-edge innovation, research, and development.
But how does it take the fight to ISIS which relies on improvised weapons, social media, and religious extremism? ISIS doesn’t have jets, after all.
Never underestimate our enemy’s reach, even if its technology, military presence, and tactics are completely different from ours. The versatility and unmatched situational awareness of the F-35 makes it integral to fighting ISIS’s asymmetric threat. The F-35’s ground-breaking communications systems also allow for better coordinated missions with our allies who have invested in the program. The F-35’s interoperability between the US and our NATO counterparts enables us to instantly adjust strategies to respond to unexpected, real-time changes on the ground, giving us greater flexibility and control. Moreover, the F-35’s maneuverability and advanced missile detection systems safeguard our pilots from anti-aircraft fire for a distinct advantage.
In fact, Lt. Gen. Bogdan of the United States Air Force testified before Congress that “the combination of the F-35 being able to go where no other airplanes can go and its ability to see the battlespace in clarity, creates an advantage for the United States that is critical in future air dominance.”
We owe it to our brave men and women in uniform to provide the safest and most technologically advanced weaponry available. As the world’s greatest military force, we must continue to evolve to meet new types of threats that will no doubt emerge in the coming years and decades. The F-35 program is more than capable of helping us to accomplish both of these feats.
As a career Air Force pilot, I can say the F-35 is exactly what this country needs to not just keep up with – but to effectively combat – the threats we face on a global scale. I’ve been behind the program from the beginning as the vast majority of Arizona elected officials have been.
We must continue supporting the F-35 program in order to reap the benefits it will provide for decades to come. Anything less will be needlessly wasting a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to strengthen our armed forces to keep America safe and secure.
Lt Col Wendy Rogers and her husband are small business owners living in Flagstaff, serving communities in northern, eastern and southern Arizona.