A U.S. Air Force official has said the service branch has started to subject its F-35 fighter jets to combat mission tests against Russian- and Chinese-made aerial defense platforms through the use of “open air” ranges as well as computer modeling and simulation environments.
Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, director of the F-35 integration office, told Scout Warrior reporter Kris Osborn in an interview published Thursday the tests also aim to prepare the fighter planes for emerging threats.
“They have got these digital [surface-to-air missile systems] out there that can change frequencies and they are very agile in how they operate, being able to replicate that is not easy,” Harrigian said of Chinese- and Russian-built air defenses.
“One of the key reasons we bought this airplane is because the threats continue to evolve – we have to be survivable in this threat environment that has continued to develop capabilities where they can deny us access to specific objectives that we may want to achieve,” he added.
Harrigian noted that the Lockheed Martin-built fighter jet is based on “open architecture” designed to facilitate the integration of new avionics, software and weapons platforms.
According to Scout Warrior, the service branch plans to procure a total of 1,763 Joint Strike Fighter F-35As for integration with its fleet of approximately 2,000 fighter planes.