Brig. Gen. Abba Describes F-35 ISR Capabilities, Emphasizes SEAD/DEAD Role Written 10 March 2020


F-35A with weapon bay doors open. | U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alexander Cook | Wikipedia; public domain

Aviation Week reports that as “a series of Block 4 upgrades are set to elevate the Lockheed Martin F-35’s profile for the counter air-defense mission, a top program official shared an operational anecdote highlighting the aircraft’s latent capability against surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems.” While speaking at the Mitchell Institute March 9, F-35 Integration Office Director Brig. Gen. David Abba described a scenario in which two F-35As on a different mission picked up a mobile SAM on their cockpit displays. According to Abba, “We didn’t end up employing ordnance against that [threat], but it was fed back into the [command-and-control] structures in the intelligence community.” Though the F-35 is “not primarily an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft, Abba described this latent F-35 capability as ‘drive-by ISR.’” Abba ultimately highlighted the F-35’s importance in the “suppression or destruction of enemy air defenses (SEAD/DEAD) mission.” He said, “Make no bones about it, this aircraft is the preeminent SEAD/DEAD platform and that’s what we need to optimize it for.”
Full Story (Aviation Week)