The announcement that a forthcoming US Air Force TacAir study will include an assessment of a new clean sheet design to replace the F-16 has led many to label the F-35 a failure. While it is certainly an important change in public messaging, the underlying dynamics do not support this interpretation.
Officials from Donald Trump’s administration have now announced that the US will formally withdraw in six months from the Open Skies Treaty. The viability of multilateral confidence- and security-building measures is called into question.
The two ISTAR types are expensive but remain some of the most operationally relevant and flexible capabilities in the equipment plan, with a vital role to play in support of the RAF and the wider joint force in both high-intensity warfighting and ongoing low-intensity mission sets.