Mar 10, 2015

F-35 Will Not Reach Full Close-Air-Support Potential Until 2022

F-35 will have to wait until 2022 to fire the U.S. military's top close-air-support bomb after the Small Diameter Bomb II enters service in 2017.
The Small Diameter Bomb II (SDB II) is an upgrade from previous precision-guided air-dropped weapons because of its ability to track and hit moving targets from up to 40 miles. However, the F-35 will not have the software package required to operate the bomb loaded onto the fifth generation fighter until 2022.
The delay in getting the SDBII onto the F-35 will reduce the aircraft's ability to provide close-air support to ground troops. It plays a role in the debate over the aircraft's ability to adequately fulfill the mission of the A-10 Warthog if Air Force officials are allowed by Congress to retire the close-air-support aircraft.
Air Force leaders renewed their intent to retire the A-10 by 2019 in February with its budget proposal.

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