Senior Air Force Conference 2018

Senior Air Force Conference 2018
May 22, 2018

Thank you, Colonel Hecht, and good morning.

It’s a pleasure to be back in Israel once again.

I want to begin by thanking General Norkin for the invitation to speak to this distinguished audience.

The Senior Air Force Conference has attracted leaders from air forces around the world.

For us at Lockheed Martin, we are honored to see so many partners here – partners we are privileged to support as you work to keep your citizens safe and your nations secure.

Conferences like this are an excellent opportunity for free nations to: share information, strengthen our alliances and ensure that air power is a force for peace and progress.

To this end, General Norkin has asked me to provide our industry perspective on the transformative impact of 5th-generation air power for achieving air superiority.

As the designer and manufacturer of 5th-generation aircraft – the F-35 Lightning II – Lockheed Martin has already seen how 5th-generation technologies are revolutionizing the battlespace for our customers … and creating a decisive strategic tool for meeting security threats.

So, I’m pleased to have this opportunity to present some insights from our work around the world.

This morning, I’d like to talk with you about the rapidly-evolving challenges and strategic imperatives in the modern battlespace and how 5th-generation aircraft can meet those challenges and transform a nation’s armed forces.

Before I begin, however, I want to take a moment to commemorate the historic milestone that this nation celebrated last Monday.

On behalf of the 100,000 men and women of Lockheed Martin, I congratulate the Israeli Air Force, the Israel Defense Forces, and the people of Israel on their 70 years of independence.

At Lockheed Martin, we are honored to join you in this celebration.

In fact, as a company, we are proud of the role our people and our technologies have played in the story of Israel’s independence and in the creation of the IAF.

One of those people was Al Schwimmer, one of the IAF’s founding fathers.

Schwimmer started his career in the U.S. aerospace industry in 1939 as an engineer with Lockheed. In 1948, the Haganah turned to him to help acquire aircraft for Israel’s War of Independence and Schwimmer answered the call.

Among several aircraft he acquired were three surplus Lockheed Constellation transport planes. They were the very same aircraft that Schwimmer had piloted for TWA during World War II flying troops and supplies across the globe.

Unfortunately, the “Connies” he purchased from the U.S. government were far from ready for service. He found them relegated to a remote corner of Lockheed’s airfield in Southern California, battered and broken from years of heavy use.

But Schwimmer was determined to help Israel so he put in motion an ingenious plan.

He made a deal with Lockheed to rent some space at one of our facilities in Burbank. He then found and hired a group of World War II veterans who had served as aircraft mechanics to repair the Connies and the other planes.

Despite the United Nations arms embargo in place at the time, Schwimmer successfully smuggled many of his planes to Israel.

The aircraft proved to be crucial to the nation during its earliest and most vulnerable days.

And they would go on to serve as the foundation for what would become the IAF.

Schwimmer’s contributions to Israel didn’t stop there.

He eventually founded Israel Aerospace Industries, which continues to make strong contributions to Israel’s economy and security.

IAI produces outer wings for the F-35, upholding Schwimmer’s life of sacrifice and service to the homeland he loved.

And his legacy will live on, as the F-35 is destined to play an indispensable role in the defense of Israel, as well as for many of the partner nations, friends, and allies in attendance here today.

Let me turn now to the modern battlespace.

Why is there an urgent – and growing need – for 5th-generation technologies like the F-35?

In my role as a representative of our company, I meet with our customers on a regular basis in nations across the globe.

Last year, I took 12 international trips to eight countries, and since the beginning of the year, I’ve met with customers in Europe and throughout the Middle East.

Every nation has security factors that are unique to their geopolitical context.

However, as I listen to customers, no matter where we are in the world, I hear a common refrain.

The threats they face are now more unpredictable, more volatile, and more intercontinental than ever before.

There is increased sophistication from near-peer nations and from non-state actors – with technology advancing at an exponential pace.

Security is being contested in every domain – on land, on and in our waters, in the air, in space, and in the cyber realm.

For the world’s armed forces, especially the world’s air forces, these hard realities have created a widening scope of mission demands and an increased need for speed and relevant information.

Now more than ever, warfighters need integrated technologies that enable them to act and react: quickly, effectively and decisively.

At Lockheed Martin, we know from history that emerging threats and persistent security challenges must be overcome with ingenuity and innovation.

The F-35 has proven that it provides the advanced capabilities needed to face the broad range of challenges our customers are facing – and will face – in the 21st century.

For the air chiefs and pilots who have seen its capabilities, the experience is eye-opening.

As Air Marshal Leo Davies, chief of the Royal Australian Air Force, put it: “The F-35 replaces nothing … because it changes everything.”

Let me tell you how this 5th-generation aircraft is transforming our ability to operate in all domains of the modern battlespace.

First and foremost, the F-35 is designed to operate in places 4th-generation aircraft simply cannot, offering unparalleled survivability.

Its speed and stealth capabilities, combined with advanced countermeasures and electronic-attack capabilities, allow it to overcome increasingly sophisticated defenses to provide an asymmetric impact.

Last year, for instance, 13 F-35As participated in “Red Flag” exercises at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada – the U.S. Air Force’s premier combat-training exercise for American and allied forces.

During these exercises, the aircraft faced the most advanced aggressor aircraft and simulated threats available.

The F-35A recorded an impressive kill ratio of greater than 20 to 1.

In one of the missions, a four-ship formation of F-35As destroyed five surface-to-air threats in a 15-minute period without being targeted once.

These game-changing capabilities make the F-35 not only an effective deterrent, but give sovereign leaders a decisive asymmetric strategic tool.

Its mere presence in a theater can send a strong message to the enemy: helping to quell threats, maintain stability and drive potential aggressors to re-assess diplomatic options.

Another key strength of 5th-generation aircraft is interoperability.

One F-35 is formidable all on its own. But its greatest value is the way its interoperability enhances other platforms, systems, and allied aircraft.

The F-35 has repeatedly demonstrated its ability to be a force multiplier for existing fleets of 4th-generation aircraft.

In advanced training exercises, the F-35 can serve as a central node in contested battlespace, directing other assets, improving communication and enabling integrated efforts to eliminate threats.

Last spring, U.S. Air Force F-22s and F-35s gathered with British Typhoons and French Rafales at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia.

The three services participated in high-end air combat exercises, flying more than 500 sorties over the course of three weeks.

One U.S. Air Force official said at the time that the 5th-generation fighters used their advanced sensors and stealth capabilities during the exercises to coordinate the speed and firepower of the Eurofighters and Rafales in combat against F-15Es and T-38s.

The F-15Es and T-38s were then forced to develop entirely new tactics.

“When you have these assets all together, it makes us all-the-more lethal,” he said.

The F-35 has also proven its value in coordinating with advanced air and missile defense systems.

In 2016, during a live-fire exercise, a U.S. Marine Corps F-35B acted as an elevated sensor and detected an over-the-horizon threat.

The F-35B sent data to a ground station connected to the Aegis Weapon System, which engaged and intercepted the target.

More recently, during a live-fire exercise in 2017, a U.S. Marine Corps F-35B once again acted as an elevated sensor – this time for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS.

The F-35B detected the over-the-horizon surface target and the targeting data was then relayed to the HIMARS, which engaged and destroyed the target.

Here in Israel, F-35s have shown they can work in concert with their IDF counterparts in the Ground Forces and the Navy not just as a force multiplier for the air force, but for the armed forces and senior leadership.

And with C4I technology integrated into the Adir, the F-35 is particularly critical to countering Hezbollah’s vast rocket threat through rapid identification and prioritization of targets for the IAF.

The F-35 is also marked by unmatched flexibility. Having an aircraft with such a wide variety of capabilities is precisely what today’s air forces need to manage an ever-expanding mission set.

Missions traditionally performed by specialized aircraft – such as air-to-air combat, air-to-ground strikes, electronic attack, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance – can now be executed by a squadron of F-35s.

In the early phases of a conflict, the F-35 can fly as the first fighter to penetrate contested airspace, providing air superiority and destroying double-digit ground threats, thereby clearing the way for follow-on legacy platforms to meet mission requirements.

On its very next mission, the F-35 can fly in what we call “beast mode,” carrying up to 18,000 pounds of internal and external ordnance, in a mix that can include 5,000-pound-class weapons.

And when the Adir itself is “Winchester,” its exceptional loiter time on station coupled with its unmatched sensor suite and situational awareness will allow the Adir to continue to “quarterback” or direct operations in the battlespace.

The F-35 also provides tremendous value for the money for nations and their taxpayers because of its economies of scale and commonality.

The F-35 has a common platform for all three variants: The F-35A, the F-35B, and the F-35C.

Operating off a common platform enables military forces to achieve service-specific mission capabilities, …while still taking advantage of the efficiencies and savings that flow from shared parts and processes.

We’ve seen the advantage of these economies of scale as we continue to make progress on our goal to reduce the price of the F-35A to $80 million by the year 2020, which is comparable in price to a 4th-generation aircraft, but with all the attributes that the F-35 brings to the fight.

For example, some nations have both the F-35A and F-35B to address different missions.

The F-35B is used for short takeoff and vertical landing in austere environments.

Its ability to operate in dispersed, forward-operational locations using rapid simultaneous operations significantly compounds an adversary’s targeting problems.

The bottom line is: with its stealth, speed, and survivability, its unrivalled flexibility, its interoperability and its increasing affordability, the F-35 presents game-changing technology for countering modern threats.

These strengths and the aircraft’s sensors, processing power, and adaptability will continue to grow in importance in the decades ahead.

Over the past 50 years, we have seen dramatic and far-reaching changes in the threat environment.

For this reason, we know that the world will be a much different place by the end of the F-35’s operational life in 2070.

That’s why we’re focused on developing new capabilities that can be incorporated into the F-35, so that the aircraft will maintain its technological superiority.

In the modern battlespace, the term “5th generation” already means an advanced fighter that transcends the air-warfare realm.

Simply put, the F-35 is the central node in a 5th-generation fighting force – built for multi-domain, network-centric warfare.

We already envision an F-35 flying with a group of semi-autonomous UAVs controlled by the pilot from the cockpit.

The UAVs would work in concert with the F-35 pilot to disable enemy radar installations and anti-aircraft batteries, jam communications, provide reconnaissance, and destroy targets.

We’re already working to incorporate laser-weapons systems on the F-35 that could be used to counter a multitude of threats … while reducing the kinetic-weapons payload aboard the aircraft.

And last month, the Director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency told Congress that in the near future, F-35s have the potential to become an important component of the Ballistic Missile Defense system by tracking and even shooting down missiles in the boost phase.

While it’s nearly impossible to predict the threats we may face decades from now, we know that the solution to maintaining the superiority of 5th-generation fighters, and the generations that will follow, lies in the ability to quickly modernize the aircraft through the rapid integration of new capabilities.

Aircraft that incorporate machine learning, artificial intelligence, and remotely reconfigurable systems will define the future of warfare.

As we reflect on all these changes and their implications for the modern battlespace, it is undeniable that there is an urgent and a growing need for 5th-generation technologies like the F-35.

It is also clear that each of us whether in government or industry, in politics, or in uniform – will have an important role to play in securing the full promise and potential of this 5th-generation moment.

We will need to strengthen dialogue, understanding, and collective action to ensure we can field 5th-generation aircraft and capabilities for the benefit of all our men and women in uniform and for our shared international security.

As senior air chiefs, you will have an important role to play.

You must continue to clearly communicate the threats and challenges you see. Your perspective, your voice, and your positions of trust help set the priorities for national security discussion and action in these uncertain times.

You can also partner with industry to ensure that research and development is closely aligned to your requirements.

You can continue to advocate for strong and sustained defense spending.

This is imperative for maintaining a robust and viable industrial base and for supporting readiness, training, and rapid mobilization.

You can advocate for acquisition rules that help government and industry respond to your needs with speed and agility.

You can continue your work to strengthen our alliances – by broadening defense cooperation and by expanding interoperability among services, technologies, and integrated systems.

Finally, you can provide your leadership and your insights to communicate the urgent need for every nation to support the pipeline of talent necessary to drive long-term innovation.

Innovation ultimately flows from the knowledge and ingenuity of people.

Without the right skills and talent, free nations will not be able to hold their technological edge.

Yet, the world is facing a growing gap in the number of scientists, engineers, and technological visionaries needed to solve the challenges we face in the 21st century.

Failing to act to address this talent gap will carry especially heavy consequences for national defense and international security.

Addressing this growing talent shortage will demand that governments, businesses, and academic institutions come together to work in concert.

We will need to find ways to promote, equip, and encourage students at every stage of their education to pursue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Long-term innovation will depend on the next generation of STEM professionals. They will be the ones who develop the platforms, sensors, and systems that will protect our nations and secure our hopes for shared progress.

Cleary, we stand at a historic moment.

The 5th-generation era is here and the future of air warfare and the entire battlespace is already undergoing fundamental transformation.

The challenges faced by air forces around the world are increasingly complex and wide-ranging.

It will be 5th-generation aircraft and integrated technologies that will enable nations to confront these rapidly-evolving threats.

And as new technologies emerge in the 21st century, it will be 5th-generation aircraft that will be best able to adapt with speed and agility to new realities.

I want to conclude by saying to all of you in this room, we deeply appreciate the trust you place in Lockheed Martin every day.

Serving you is a responsibility we do not take lightly.

As your industry partner, we’re committed to working alongside you to ensure that you will always dominate the air – and be secure in every other domain of the modern battlespace.

With the collective military and industrial power of the nations represented here today, I have great confidence that our future will continue to be defined by security, prosperity, and freedom.

Thank you for your kind attention.

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