While NATO countries have an edge on the quality of air assets, especially the fifth generation F-35, there is a concern about the overall number of high quality aircraft the countries are acquiring, the head of one European air force said. Lt. Gen. Dennis Luyt, commander of the Royal Netherlands Air Force, said at ASC16 that there is an “unparalleled situational awareness” the F-35 brings to the fight, which is “something that any opponent will regard as a force to be reckoned with.” NATO needs credible air forces, ones that are able to use its assets. But Luyt said he is concerned that NATO countries are not acquiring enough of these assets. “We have done acquisition at times of large budget cuts,” he said. “The operational requirement was driven by money.” This means limited numbers of F-35s will be fielded. However, Luyt said he has seen that changing. “What we see now is the tide is changing, we are going away from budget cuts,” he said. There is now a “more healthy discussion” about future acquisition.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.