‘Building Partner Capacity’ and Its Consequences
1:33 PM, Dec 13, 2011 • By THOMAS DONNELLY
The F-35 stakes could hardly be higher for the United States. Despite the Pentagon’s budget woes, it cannot walk away from the Lightning. There is no substitute for American forces. High-end unmanned systems or a new bomber – indeed, any of the muted substitutes for F-35 – are years if not decades away from being fielded. Nor is there any substitute for America’s allies. It’s not extreme to say that the commitment to the F-35 is as serious as any other test of American strategic leadership and will to preserve a measure of military technological advantage.
Or put it this way: Tearing apart the F-35 program – which may already be a result of the Budget Control Act and Obama policy – would be as corrosive a signal of weakness and decline as the withdrawal from Iraq or Afghanistan.