The USAF has confirmed dispatch of F-35A stealth fighters to the UK as a part of the system that began in the era of President Barack Obama. This multibillion-dollar program was initiated to extend support to the European Reassurance Initiative of NATO following the annexation of Crimea by Russia. The stealth fighters are seen to be an integral part of the Pentagon's effort to reassure European allies because of Russia’s aggressive stand on the continent.

The purpose and utilization

According to CNN, the new acquisition would initially be involved in a time-bound training with other US aircraft and crews and those from NATO allies to enable integrating into a team to defend the sovereignty of allied nations.

The F-35A is a single-engine fighter, and there are three variants – ‘A’ is for the US Air Force, ‘B’ is for the Marines, and the ‘C’ will be for the US Navy. The F-35B are already in operation in Japan. It was done to bolster the US allies in Japan and South Korea.

Incidentally, before sending F-35s, the US had sent other types of aircraft to Europe and has now got an opportunity to make a sales pitch for these stealth fighters because some of the countries have already procured them or have plans to do so like the United Kingdom, Italy, Norway, Belgium, Denmark, and Turkey.

Would the cost justify acquisition?

The exorbitant cost of the F-35A aircraft has been criticized by President Donald Trump himself because the price tag is $400 billion for the 2000-plus planes either already delivered or planned to be delivered and this is nearly two times the original budget.

However, Secretary of Defense James Mattis looks at the F-35 as a means to show US air superiority. He also was all praise for it because of its ability to integrate with NATO allies who are procuring it.

The F-35A is a fifth-generation stealth fighter and is installed with the latest technological advances that include state-of-the-art sensors, interoperability, and a broad range of airborne weapons.

While the cost appears to be prohibitive, those who decide to acquire these will have to weigh all the pros and cons before investing. Since the manufacturers have already done research, the buyers can take advantage of that and would not need to invest separately to prove their products. In today’s world, a proven product is always a better buy. Therefore, prospective buyers of F-35A can take a positive decision because it would be the acquisition of a readymade product off the shelf.