Le Bourget, France—International partners on the F-35 will enjoy a stealth capability on the fighter equal to that of the US versions, according to F-35 program office officials. Maj. Gen. C.D. Moore, deputy director of the F-35 program office, gave a non-committal answer during a press conference here this week at the Paris Air Show when a reporter asked about the level of stealth available to foreign users. International reporters have long hinted that the United States would hold back some capability. However in a subsequent statement issued by the F-35 program office, officials said “the quick answer to the statement regarding partners being less stealthy than the US is ‘no.’ (Partners will have same capability).” The program officials noted that the stealth aspects of some partner versions will vary slightly due to their inclusion of some unique gear, such as drag chutes, but it is “a program objective to not impact [low-observable] characteristics. It is our intent to produce a common solution to ensure interoperability for coalition operations as well as production affordability.”
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.