The F-22 Raptor was considered “too provocative’ to deploy after its IOC.  Not so for the F-35A; The USAF version of the JSF is expected to hit theaters as soon as Combatant Commanders want them.

Air Combat Command (ACC) General Hawk Carlisle is expecting to get the F-35A out to combat as soon as possible. He told reporters that the F-35A would deploy in combat operations as soon as Geographic Combatant Commanders wanted it.

This is in stark contrast to the F-22 Raptor’s path to deployment. Fears of it being “too provocative” by some US officials kept the Raptor out of the fight.

“On a couple of occasions, we were going to send [the F-22] to different theaters and we didn’t because there were at least a group of people who thought that it was too provocative to send,” he said. “It was less about us not being able to or at least not wanting to; it was more about the message. … We didn’t send it to the Middle East, frankly because it was considered to be a provocative move to send the only 5th-generation fighter in the world to that environment.”

But deploying the F-35A, a 5th Generation fighter, soon after it attained IOC is about sending a message as well, albeit a much different message.

“You’ll see it out there much quicker. You’ll see it operating with our friends and partners. We’re already seeing that occur,” Carlisle said.

The F-35 has had numerous setbacks and cost overruns.  Any chance the Department of Defense has to send the JSF into an operational role provides a positive note for the platform–even it if is too provocative.

You can read Hope Seck’s full article here.

Top Photo: A U.S Air Force KC-10 Extender refuels an F-22 Raptor fighter aircraft after strike operations in Syria, Sept. 23, 2014. These aircraft were part of a large coalition strike package that was the first to strike ISIL targets in Syria. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Jefferson S. Heiland)