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Why is the F-35 a Game Changer in the Pacific?

The F-35 is the one of the most well known, and expensive, defense projects in human history. With new capabilities just now hitting the battlefield, the full implications of its deployment are still be realized on the world stage. With Western air superiority established in much of the Middle East area of operations, the Pacific region stands to be impacted more by the F-35’s arrival to the scene.

Even more intimidating is that same carrier stocked up with fifth-generation US stealth fighters

An F-35B Lightning II assigned to the “Flying Leathernecks” of Marine Fighter Squadron (VMFA) 122 lands on the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6). America is currently underway conducting routine operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Vance Hand/Released)

Japan has been flying the F-35, right next to China, since early 2018. And just last month, the F-35 was officially welcomed into the South Korean Air Force. In the space of 24 months, the US and two of its allies deployed the stealthiest, and one of the most capable, fighter jets in the world, right in China’s back yard. Additionally the US Marines now operate the F-35 aboard amphibious assault aircraft carriers criss-crossing the South China Sea, pushing back against China’s advances and increasing territorial claims.

Two U.S. Marine Corps F-35Bs Lightning II with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 122, Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 13, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW), standby on the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) during routine training in the Eastern Pacific, Sept. 28, 2019. 3rd MAW is capable of conducting missions across the range of military operations and continues to promote the defense of our nation and its interests. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Juan Anaya)

As deliveries to allies continue to ramp up, along with the delivery of the Navy’s variant, the F-35C, pressure on China is only likely to continue increasing. When the F-35C is fully operational with the Navy, the US will also be able to employ its fleet of nuclear-powered Super Carriers to push US stealth fighters right where they need to be.

A U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 122, Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 13, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW), prepares to land on the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) during routine training in the Eastern Pacific, Sept. 28, 2019. 3rd MAW is capable of conducting missions across the range of military operations and continues to promote the defense of our nation and its interests. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Juan Anaya)
PACIFIC OCEAN (Sept. 30, 2019) Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 2nd Class Sabrina Bales, assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6, signals an F-35B Lightning II assigned to the Flying Leathernecks of Marine Fighter Squadron (VMFA) 122 to take off from the ship’s flight deck. America is currently underway conducting routine operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Vance Hand/Released)

A fully crewed Nimitz-class Super Carrier is an awesome and frightening sight to behold by adversarial nations. The only thing even more intimidating is that same carrier stocked up with fifth-generation US stealth fighters instead of their old Super Hornets. Much of the world’s attention is expected to continue looking towards the Indo-Pacific. The F-35’s arrival on the scene, only sure to continue increasing, will change the game in the Pacific region.