Here's why the F-35 could thrive in the South China Sea

As tensions mount in the troubled waters of the South China Sea, US might is considered crucial, and a weapon considered well suited for the region is almost ready for deployment: the F-35 Lightning II.

“It will absolutely thrive in that environment,” retired Air Force Col. John “JV” Venable told Business Insider.

At a cool $100 million per jet, Lockheed Martin’s “jack-of-all-trades” aircraft is America’s priciest weapons system, and its development has become one of the most challenged programs in the history of the Department of Defense.

An F-35C Lightning II on USS George Washington

An F-35C Lightning II on USS George Washington during F-35C Development Test III. | Lockheed Martin

Since its inception, in 2001, the F-35 has experienced setbacks that include faulty ejection seats, software delays, and helmet display issues.

In July 2015, after cost overruns, design modifications, and serious testing, the Marine Corps became the first of the sister-service branches to declare the tri-service fighter ready for war.

A year and change later, the Air Force also declared their version of the fifth generation jet initial operational capability (IOC). Currently the US Navy variant, the F-35C, is slated to reach IOC by February 2019.

An F-35C Lightning II comes in for a landing on USS George Washington

An F-35C Lightning II comes in for a landing on USS George Washington during F-35C Development Test III. | Lockheed Martin

“Having three different types of fighters working for you in that environment [South China Sea] is also an extraordinary advantage,” Venable, a fighter pilot and former commander of the celebrated Air Force Thunderbirds, told Business Insider.

With rival territorial claims by Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, the Philippines, Taiwan, and China, the South China Sea — rich in natural resources and crisscrossed by shipping routes — is one of the most militarized areas on the planet.

Public Domain | Voice of America

Overlapping claims in the South China Sea | Voice of America

Currently the US, with the world’s largest navy, dominates the region; however, that is poised to change as Beijing dramatically expands its naval capabilities.

“At some point, China is likely to, in effect, be able to deny the US Navy unimpeded access to parts of the South China Sea,” Robert Kaplan, senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security and author of  “Asia’s Cauldron,” wrote.

“The withdrawal of even one US aircraft carrier strike group from the Western Pacific is a game changer.”

According to Venable, the F-35, designed to marry stealth and avionics, would thrive in the armed camp that has become the South China Sea.

“The Chinese would be right to fear the United States Air Force, United States Navy, and the United States Marine Corps armed with those jets.”

TOP ARTICLES
SpaceX launching a third top-secret satellite

SpaceX is launching a secretive mission this month. The mission, shrouded in secrecy, has some considering it may be for the CIA or the NSA.

This is how the Air Force will use prop planes on high-tech battlefields

The Air Force is looking toward a light-attack aircraft program, known as OA-X, to produce a plane that meets its needs and gets the job done.

A retired SEAL commander on how to stop thinking and 'get after it' every day

This former Navy commander has some excellent advice on how to jump start your day, and "get some" in order to make it as productive as possible.

Marines return to battle in 'old stomping grounds'

The Marines recall their "old stomping grounds" as they return to Fallujah and the surround areas of Al Anbar Province to battle a new enemy.

How Chinese drones are set to swarm the global market

China has stepped up it's drone game, and even though United States technology can still compete, China's drones are kind of really in demand.

That time two countries' Special Forces squared off in combat

In an area the size of the Falkland Islands, British and Argentine special operators were bound to run into each other at some point – a lot.

5 times pilots got in trouble for having fun in the sky

When pilots decide to do some fancy flying in their high-performance fighters, it can land them in trouble once they're back on the ground.

This is why Nazis dubbed these paratroopers 'devils in baggy pants'

"American paratroopers – devils in baggy pants – are less than 100 meters from my outpost line. I can’t sleep at night," wrote one German commander.

9 ISIS weapon fails that you have to see to believe

Many bad guys just want record themselves laying rounds down range for social media purposes — and we're glad they did. Laugh away, America!

US Army recruitment campaigns, ranked from worst to best

Advertising can really impact recruitment for the military. For better or for worse, here are some of the Army's most memorable slogans...