USs First F-35 Fighter Makes its First Landing at Aero India 2023

By siliconindia   |   Thursday, 16 February 2023, 17:59 IST
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US’s First F-35 Fighter Makes its First Landing at Aero India 2023

Some quarters believe the arrival of the F-35s in Yelahanka could be a signal that Washington was positioning an American fighter to win an ongoing IAF tender for 114 multi-role fighter aircraft.

Two US Air Force (USAF) F-35 fighters, arguably the most advanced fifth-generation fighters in the world, landed at the Yelahanka air force base and parked without fanfare in the static display area, sending the crowds at the Aero India 2023 exhibition outside of Bengaluru into a frenzy of selfie-taking. As a sign of support and unity, rumors circulated before Aero India 2023 that US military F-35 aircraft would fly over the event. The US government's direct announcement of the arrival of two F-35s surprised most people.

An official statement from the US Consulate General in Chennai states that the stealthy, supersonic, multirole F-35A Lightning II and F-35A Joint Strike Fighter, the newest fifth-generation warplanes for the USAF, will make their premiere at Aero India 2023.

The F-35A Lightning II Demonstration Team will demonstrate its exceptional aerial abilities after traveling from Utah's Hill Air Force Base. There will be a static demonstration of the F-35A Lightning II from Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska.

The arrival of the F-35s in Yelahanka was seen by many observers of the Indian Air Force (IAF) as more than a show of force. It was more likely an indication that Washington was preparing an American fighter to take home the prize in the IAF's ongoing competition for 114 multi-role fighter aircraft (MRCA). Many IAF analysts believe that the F-21 fighter, which is currently being offered by US aerospace supplier Lockheed Martin, is technologically outmoded. Furthermore, it is well known that the F-21 is an incrementally enhanced version of the F-16 Block 50/52, an aircraft that the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has used for many years and perfected in every way.

Given this, the IAF would support any attempt by Lockheed Martin to replace the offer of the F-21 with an offer for the F-35. The F-35's engine has a single-stage high-pressure turbine, a single-stage low-pressure turbine, a six-stage compressor, an annular combustor, and a two-stage low-pressure turbine that together create 43,000 pounds of thrust.

Major General Julian Cheater, Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of USAF International Affairs, stated that the F-35 represents the cutting edge of US fighter technology and that they had been dispatched to Bengaluru to demonstrate their superiority. The most sophisticated, capable, dangerous, and interoperable weaponry the US has to offer can be displayed at Aero India. This device and others are made to get past and destroy sophisticated air defenses used by enemies. Washington has made it plain that the F-35 will be unavailable to the IAF as an F-16 replacement. Instead, both aircraft would be placed in a competitive position.

The USAF will demonstrate the capabilities of a pair of F-16 Fighting Falcons each day from February 13-17, along with the F-35. The F/A-18E and F/A-18F Super Hornet are multirole aircraft on static exhibition. Seven twin-engine fighters are reportedly being considered by the IAF for the MRFA acquisition. The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and F-15EX Eagle II from Boeing, the Rafale from Dassault, the Typhoon from Eurofighter GmbH, the RAC MiG-35 and the Sukhoi-35 from Russia are all twin-engine aircraft. Additionally, the F-21 Super Viper from Lockheed Martin and the Gripen E/F from Swedish manufacturer Saab might both be fielded.