Farnborough, UK Navy acquisition chief Sean Stackley wants everyone to know the Navy is “fully committed” to the F-35 program. At a Farnborough Air Show press conference Monday, Stackley took umbrage at a reporter’s assertion that the sea service has been a reluctant F-35 partner and has a preference for the F/A-18E/F. The Navy’s plan is to start fielding the F-35 in 2018, he said, and its initial operating capability in that year “has always been tied to the 3F” version of software that will be available at that point. In the meantime, though, Stackley said the Navy has been wrestling with fighter shortages, hence the F/A-18 adds to the budget. But the F-35 will replace older F/A-18 units “one for one” as the new jets become available.
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.