F-35B Joint Strike Fighter test aircraft BF-2 with an AIM-9X Sidewinder inert missile on the starboard pylon, a centerline 25 mm gun pod.

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CAS is not a single platform. CAS is a system of systems working together to provide support for a warfighter on the ground. As has been mentioned above, fast jets and bombers have been performing CAS for the past decade and a half and no one is complaining. F-16’s will generally roll in with 2 JDAM’s, 2 missiles (AMRAAM/Sidewinder), 2 drop tanks and a few pods to employ said munitions. Hmmm… sounds oddly familiar to a certain loadout the F-35 carries. The stealth aspect means it can actually provide air support for the troops on day 1. They can kick the door in with the guys on the ground, support them by employing weapons or passing ISR data along. They pass this data along with other air assets, such as AWACS, fast jets, and helicopters. Much like F-22’s do in the air, they can act like the quarterback of strike and support operations, coordinating strikes anywhere along the battlefield (what one F-35 sees, they can all see). Because of this, they can be more effective than 100 A-10’s for the guys on the ground. A-10’s got smacked around going against a second rate Iraq in 1993. And sure, the A-10 limped home after losing an engine and half a wing, thats all great and dandy. Did that plane ever fly into combat during DS again? No? So it was a mission kill for the rest of the war. Why fly down low and expose yourself to unnecessary risk if you don’t have to. The argument of target identification is old and false, A-10’s shredded multiple British and U.S. vehicles in DS but thats casually forgotten. There is a good argument that a dedicated COIN aircraft is needed, but that aircraft is NOT the A-10.

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